Menswear

My Favorite Shirt Company Killed the Placket

My perfect dress shirt is a slim-fitting cotton poplin or broadcloth with an unfused spread collar, unfused French cuffs, no pocket, and a placket on the front of the shirt – all for an affordable price. On this quest for the perfect dress shirt, I found Kamakura Shirts, the Japanese maker of handsome, really well-made, reasonably priced dress shirts. Their “New York Slim Fit” in broadcloth was a godsend, hitting all the bullet points for my favorite shirts, until recently.

A few weeks ago, I went to the Kamakura website to purchase replacements for my light blue dress shirts, which are starting to show their age. They’ve held up beautifully for several years and are just now starting to fray a bit where the French cuff folds. I still plan to wear them, since I like a bit of distress to mess with anything that looks too perfect, but it was time for new ones.

As I was scanning the site, applying filters to narrow down the search for my size and desired color, I couldn’t find the exact shirt I wanted. The shirt that I wanted had a placket, like all the other New York Slim Fit broadcloth shirts with a spread collar and French cuffs that I’ve bought from Kamakura in previous years. But no dice this time. All the shirts on the website had a French placket, which means no placket.

This is the original shirt, with a placket on the front. It was a terrific shirt, and I would have continued to buy it again for the rest of my life.

For anyone who might not know, a placket is a narrow strip of fabric that is sewn onto the front of most dress shirts. It’s where the buttonholes live. An alternate design of dress shirts features a “French” placket design without the strip of fabric, creating a seamless, unbroken look with the buttonholes cut directly into the front of the shirt.

I’m not a fan of the French placket, and I much prefer the traditional placket.

Until now, my preferred dress shirts from Kamakura featured a placket. Well… not anymore.

The is the “updated” version Kamakura now sells. Note the French placket, i.e. the absence of a placket. I’m not a fan.

I thought that it must be a mistake or that perhaps the shirts I sought were simply out of stock. After contacting Kamakura, I received a reply confirming that they no longer make my dress shirts with a placket. This broke my heart.

I bought two of the new placketless versions of the shirt anyway, thinking I might like them. I don’t. I’ll wear them, but I’ll wear them exclusively with ties since I dislike the look of the French placket so much.

I’m extremely disappointed in Kamakura. They were the only resource for good, 100% cotton shirts (NOT the no-iron/wrinkle-free bullshit) with unfused collars and cuffs without charging an arm and a leg. This is very distressing for me, as these may very well be the last shirts I buy from a company I had liked and championed so much.

Thanks for letting me vent.

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17 Comments

  1. Roy Lonergan Reply

    George
    Can you get TM Lewin in the States? They do poplin, non-fused collars (“classic”), placket, and a double cuff. You just need to dodge the non-iron options.
    Roy

  2. Dain Forsythe Reply

    I totally relate. My food choices, my clothing choices, my choices in restaurants, almost always have a shelf life of a year or two at best. I know I’m an outlier, but isn’t this a niche economy? Shouldn’t I have enough fellow outliers to keep the product in the market? On for another grand six-month search! No ‘bar lowering’ if we can help it. Cheers!

  3. I feel your ire, George. As we get older it gets harder to cope with those damn changes to our routine. You must already know this: there are custom shirtmakers (Proper Cloth, Spier and Mackay) who’ll give you the collar and placket options you choose, in a fabric of your choice, and to your exact measurements, at the same price point as those off-the-peg Kamakura ones.

  4. Have you tried T.M. Lewin? They have unfused collars, french cuffs and plackets from 100% pure cotton poplin. I have few of their shirts and I like them much better than the ones from Charles Tyrwhitt, which has a similar price point.

  5. Try ProperCloth – I know, I know. They get a ton of press but I’ve been a customer there since 2012 and though I’ve had some returns for sizing issues, I dialed in the fit and now it’s the only place I’ll buy shirts.

    • Chris — Same here. If one goes through the customizing process, you’ll get exactly the fit and details you like. (May take one trial purchase, but almost sure to get it perfect on second and thereafter.)

  6. Theron Paul Stevenson Reply

    I’ve been really happy with the Luxire shirts that I’ve tried, and they’re reasonably priced. I thrifted mine (got lucky on fit) so I can’t speak to their customer service, but it’s worth a look.

  7. I like Kamakura shirts too but my beef with them is sizing. I wear a 17.5 x 36 which apparently they rarely carry. I’d be happy to purchase more if they’d make them for us larger guys.

      • Peter from DE Reply

        Well, yeah. They’re Japanese after all. (I saw this as an Asian American and a 1980s Ivy grad who never dug that style.)

  8. Peter from DE Reply

    George knows about all these other options (I feel certain) and some of them are affordable. But the quality of Kamakura’s cotton is so amazing that when they have a style in my size I actually prefer it to made-to-measure. Not having the option is a shame, although I for one almost never wear a dress shirt without a tie.

    • I’ve always LOVED the quality of their broadcloth and the soft, unfused collars, cuffs and placket (when there was a placket).

      • Peter from DE Reply

        It looks like they’ve added a “Cooper collar” (they call it Sciolto) which may make wearing a shirt without a tie more appealing. (That doesn’t help you of course, still no placket.)

  9. Personally -even though I own a few dress shirts with them- I’m not a fan of the classic placket. While it adds to the symmetry, I think it makes it unnecessarily busy and another benefit of the French placket is, that it looks a lot cleaner, less old fashioned and dare I say more ‘suave’, when worn without a tie.
    While Kamakura looked intruiging to me (and I’ve been recommended them from various angles), their sizing is unfortunately off for me (slim build, but w/ 15.75″ collar.). Suitsupply extra slim fit is amazing, fit-wise for me, but their selection of classic placketed shirts is extremely limited, should *you* want to go that route.

  10. Daniel Woren Reply

    Take a look at spier and mackay. They make beautiful shirts that have the specs you seem to be looking for

  11. I had a similar experience. I am a huge fan of the Supima Tokyo Slim shirt with the cutaway collar. After much work I found some only to be disappointed. The new shirts now have a much stiffer interlining with a very stiff collar and cuff. I was told this was by customer request. I returned the shirts. And now don’t where to find a suitable replacement. I feel your pain.

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