Last week, I wrote a post about how I solve my dress shirt problem, specifically accommodating the list of “musts” I have with dress shirts. It turns out that my problem wasn’t totally solved to my complete liking.
When I wrote the post, I had just received four dress shirts from a company I wanted to try out. Prior to writing the piece, I put one on and was very happy with the fit. After I wrote and published the post, I washed and ironed them. The same problem that plagues too many dress shirts had plagued me again: the no-iron/easy-iron/wrinkle-free dress shirt problem.
Thanks to a tip from a reader on Twitter, my life was saved by Kamakura Shirts.
The Japanese shirtmaker makes beautiful handcrafted shirts that hit all the marks I want in a dress shirt. My ideal dress shirt must have…
- a plain white or pale sky blue color
- a slim-fit
- a classic, semi-spread, 3″ collar
- French cuffs
- 100% real, untreated, cotton poplin (no texture or special weave)
- a price tag of $80 or less
Kamakura Shirts not only hit all the marks for $79, but they have a feature I never would have expected with a shirt in this price range. Unlike most non-button-down dress shirts on the market today, which fuse the collar fabric and press it together to create a stiff and starched look, Kamakura’s shirt collars are not fused. The result is a more natural and genuine look and feel, without any chemical or adhesive “enhancements” one finds in many modern dress shirts.
I’m late to the Kamakura train, but the company is not new to discerning menswear afficionados. It’s a family run company that started in 1993 in Japan with a continued commitment to creating the finest quality handcrafted dress shirts made with luxurious cotton. The feeling of slipping on the finished result is like sliding into crisp, high thread-count bed sheets.
The only drag about Kamakura’s shirts is that the sleeves come in limited lengths. My real sleeve length is 35″. The closest Kamakura makes for me is 35.5″, which means I need them altered. Perhaps they will one day make a more refined selection of sleeve lengths or offer a free alteration, but an exquisite dress shirt with a $79 price tag that requires a minor alteration is workable for me.
As of this writing, their online store is under reconstruction and due to re-launch this month. Fortunately for me and any other New Yorker, they have a smart little shop at 400 Madison Avenue, between 47th and 48th Streets. (In addition to the ready-made shirts in the shop, they also offer made-to-measure.) Less than a week after I made my first visit to the store to purchase two more of their shirts in that fabulous pale blue, I received a handwritten postcard from the store manager, thanking me for my business, hoping that I was happy with the shirts and offering help with any problems I may have had. How fantastic is that?
Basically, Kamakura Shirts not only saved my life with a fabulous dress shirt, but they did it with a winning touch of class.
And to Mr. Mitsuzumi… Thank you. You’ve got a happy new customer.