No one is going to reinvent the way men dress on any real scale in our lifetime, especially with tailored clothing. Barring variations in color and pattern, the problem of what to wear has essentially already been solved. Where a new entry in the menswear game can shine is in the way that problem is solved. A company called ShirtCycle is a new startup that presents a solution with real possibilities.
ShirtCycle does custom dress shirts. That’s it. Nice and simple, with no vain attempt at reinventing the form. I’ll cut to the chase by saying that the finished product is absolutely fantastic. The Sea Island cotton is wonderful, the construction and craftsmanship is solid and the custom fit is perfect. They also have a nice (but not overwhelming) range of colors and patterns. But this could all be said for a host of other shirt makers in the game, new and old. What sets ShirtCycle apart is how they provide the shirts.
Essentially, ShirtCycle provides online custom shirts on a subscription basis. The model is like a personalized combination of other online custom tailors and Dollar Shave Club. On their website, you get started by answering a few quick questions about your style, your work life and your size. Once you enter your size and your information, you select a free shirt in classic white or oxford blue. In three weeks, this free shirt arrives in a box along with a measuring tape, a measurement card and a prepaid return shipping label. If the shirt fits, you keep it and let them know. If it doesn’t, fill out the measurement card and send the shirt back. They’ll make the necessary alterations and turn it back around within 48 hours. (You keep the measuring tape, which is a handy tool that every man should have.)
With your free shirt fitting as it should, ShirtCycle will curate three new custom shirts for you based on your profile. If you like the shirts they select for you, let it rip. If you don’t, you can very easily choose fabric and style options that you do like. Your credit card is charged once you confirm your three shirts. In three weeks, your new custom shirts arrive. Every other month, ShirtCycle will curate three more for you, which you can, of course, change to your liking. You can skip a cycle, hit pause or break the cycle altogether anytime you want. The price tag for three custom shirts: $250. Incredible.
For my free shirt I chose the oxford blue, a terrific shirt for dress casual with a jacket or on its own. With my three shirts, I decided to gently step outside my comfort zone of solid white and blue shirts. One is a solid chambray-like blue; the other two were twists on traditional gingham. Now my shirt collection has a few pops of pattern and color for the right festive occasion.
ShirtCycle presents a unique model of delivery, for sure. The only real drawback of ShirtCycle’s system as it is now is that I couldn’t find a way to browse all the available fabric colors and patterns and styles until I actually enrolled in the system. A page on their site showcasing of all the patterns and colors would be helpful for men who are considering ShirtCycle. The only other possible issue might be the turnaround time. Some men who are used to the instant gratification of off-the-rack shopping might have a hard time understanding why it will take a total of six weeks for their first three shirts to arrive, and another three weeks for subsequent cycles. To quell any concerns on that front, let me say this: a three week turnaround for three custom shirts is really good.
Within the mess of startups trying to put a dent in the menswear universe these days, the ones with a chance are the ones who solve a problem in a unique, nicely considered and tasteful way. ShirtCycle is one of them. If you’re looking for very nice, well-made, beautifully fitting custom dress shirts that won’t break the bank, I’d strongly encourage you to give them a try.
Take $35 off your first box with the code georgehahn: http://www.shirtcycle.com/invite