Monday, December 29, 2014

MTailor Made-To-Measure Shirting Reviewed

Howdy folks! After a brief hiatus, we've taken advantage of some down-time from the daily grind to finally get this piece ready to publish. MTailor is one of the newer made-to-measure brands to hit the scene, and co-founder Miles got in touch with way back before I moved from Chicago to NYC to set us up for an in-person review. Here we go:

The Brand: As usual, we asked the brand to provide us with a little background. From Miles:

"At MTailor, we are bringing professional quality custom shirts into the modern era. We make it easy, convenient and fast while maintaining an amazing fit and quality shirts.

To do that, we measure you with your phone's camera using the latest in machine learning algorithms. We're 20% more accurate than a professional tailor. There's no tape measure involved (no need for a second person or second guessing yourself on all the measurements), and you're done in less than 5 minutes.

While we officially launched June 28, we've been working on MTailor since September 2012. Right now, we're just 2 people: Miles and Rafi. We spent over a year developing the core technology to make the measurement process easy and accurate. We then spent months testing over a dozen suppliers and shipping lots of beta shirts to customers, and we only launched once we and our customers were satisfied.

We really stand behind our shirts: if you dislike an MTailor shirt for any reason (not just fit), we'll remake it for free or issue a full refund, no questions asked."

The Ordering Process: This is probably the coolest feature of MTailor - or at least the feature with the highest coolness potential. Where other made-to-measure services require you to either measure yourself or a shirt you already own, MTailor uses a cellphone app to digitally scan your body type, requiring no actual measuring at all. Pretty damn snazzy, right? And the feature is really cool - it takes a few minutes to set up, and took me a few tries until I got myself framed properly in the camera (the process involves propping your phone to fit the image of your body inside an on-screen frame), but it was painless and actually kinda fun.

Now, all that said, there are a few things I wish were a little different - the largest of which being that MTailor is only available via app. As in, you can't browse the fabrics or customization options on your computer. I'd imagine there's an iPad version as well, which would be better, but as I just have an iPhone, I was limited to selecting a fabric off of my small phone screen. Not the worst thing in the world, but it would have been great to be able to check out some larger pictures. I'd also love to see a wider range of casual fabrics, although there is something to be said for simplicity as well!

To that point, I actually enjoyed the more limited variety of customizations that were offered - seemed to cover all the bases without overwhelming you with a million choices. In the end, I ended up choosing a dressier fabric in a blue and brown small-scale tattersall, with a widespread collar, one button cuff, the longer 'tucked' cut, and a slim fit. Though MTailor was kind enough to provide the shirt free of charge for this review, the final price would have been just $69 (their base rate), which is really quite reasonable (and affordable).

The Fabric and Construction: Starting off on a very good note, the fabric and construction are pretty entirely beyond reproach. As a matter of fact, I'd consider this one of the best fabrics I've gotten for a made-to-measure shirt. Even my Thomas Mason fabrics have come just a bit stiff and...shiny - but this shirt feels far softer and just more natural, as I'd expect a 'luxury fabric' to feel. The weight is perfect for a relatively year-round shirt. It's not flimsy by any means, but not a heavy robust flannel either.

As for construction, the bases are all hit - smooth stitching, clean button-holes, sturdy and well-attached buttons, removable collar stays and stitched (as opposed to fused) collar and cuffs.

The Fit: To be perfectly honest, when it came to fit, I was a bit disappointed when I first received the shirt. The MTailor app lauds itself as 20% more accurate than a professional tailor, and with promises like that, I expected a darn-close-to-perfect shirt on the first try. Things weren't horrible, by any means, but just not quite up to snuff. Thankfully, MTailor offers a complementary remake of your first shirt in order to nail your pattern.  This is pretty common with MTM shirtmakers, and I've actually come to kind of expect to have to tweak things throughout the first order - and for any other company, I wouldn't have been as upset. It's just that those promises made by the high-tech scanning system were so...promising! Ah well, not the end of the world, but just know their model has some kinks to be worked out.

Anyway, back to the specifics. Mainly, the cut was just a bit big throughout, with slightly long sleeves, and too low of armholes.

Just a bit too big throughout, and some funky draping.
The sleeves in particular were long and baggy.
Low armholes definitely contributed to the draping and general fit being off.

Now that we were past using the digital scanning, I decided to compare the shirt with another custom shirt of my own in order to give Miles the most precise directions for adjustments.

After sending him some measurements and talking things over, we settled on the following changes for the second time around:
  • Shoulders: -.5 inches
  • Sleeves: -.5 inches (-.75 inches net with shoulders)
  • Chest: -2 inches for full circumference (-1 inch when flat)
  • Waist: -2 inches for full circumference (-1 inch when flat)
  • Hips: -2 inches for full circumference (-1 inch when flat)
  • Biceps: -2.25 inches for full circumference
  • "We have edited how we calculate biceps and this is the new measurement we would make you. The shirt we sent you must have been way too big in the biceps! Shrinking this will tighten the armholes and the forearms."
The Fit (Part 2): And here's the good news, fit-wise! After a remake, the shirt fits almost perfectly. Nice and trim through the body and waist, sleeves falling at just the right length, and a comfortably snug collar and cuffs. Boom. 

Much trimmer, an a far better drape.
Sleeves hit right at the wrist without excess pooling fabric.

My only complaint is that the armholes are still just the slightest bit restricting - minor enough that I wouldn't complain for an OTR shirt, but a bit too noticeable for a custom shirt. Really, you can't even notice it with my hands at my sides - just when I raise my arms, the fabric pulls from the armpit across the chest.

Still some slight tightness across the chest.
The Customer Service: Gotta say, I was pretty blown away by just how attentive Miles was throughout the ordering process. I'm usually all over shipping tracking myself, but he saw that the shirt was scheduled to be delivered before I did, and shot me an e-mail to make sure delivery went smoothly. When my post office mixed things up, he stayed right on top of everything until the package was in my hands. Even more importantly, he seemed eager to hear my impressions and feedback, and legitimately interested in leaving me with a great shirt, rather than just making another buck. Two thumbs, way up. Beyond that, processing and shipping came in at just under 3 weeks (not exceptionally short, but also not exceptionally long), and all communication was quickly and promptly responded to by either a customer service agent, or more often Miles himself.

In Conclusion: All around, I'd say MTailor is definitely worth a try. The ordering process is admittedly cool, and if they can continue to work out kinks in their digital-fitting model, it could end up being one of the more convenient options available. Past ordering, the customer service and product quality leave these guys right up with some of the best shirts that I've had, and all with a price point that isn't too painful.

This was a sponsored review, and the products reviewed were provided to me free of charge. The article, however, remains objective and unbiased and is published without prior editing or review by MTailor. While I love to be given products to review, don't worry, I will never endorse a product I wouldn't wear myself.

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