Monday, May 20, 2013

Upon close inspection: The J. Hilburn experience

Editor's note — This is part of a continuing Pinstripes and Tweed series on custom clothing

It has been a week since my new custom shirt from J. Hilburn was delivered.

As I previously explained, J. Hilburn is different from other internet-based shirtmakers in two ways.

First, an entire range of clothing, including “personalized” suiting — essentially made-to-order — is sold. Second, the style consultants (mine was Lena Piskorowski) employed in cities across the country do more than just sell clothes. They take your measurements — an invaluable service — to ensure an accurate fit, which, after all, is the whole purpose of custom clothing.


As an overview, I commissioned a slim-fit shirt out of light blue herringbone cloth with an English-style cutaway collar and French cuffs. Monogramming is offered, though having your initials anywhere except the inside back of the collar incurs an extra charge.

The cloth from Italian mill Tessitura Monti was very soft to the hand and easily surpassed what one would find at upscale department stores, where off-the-peg shirts are at or near J. Hilburn’s price range of $99 to $169.

The shirt is somewhere between made-to-measure and bespoke. It is tough to accurately categorize because bespoke, according to the classic Savile Row definition, requires at least one fitting. (J. Hilburn makes a pattern for each customer, but doesn’t offer a fitting.)

The bottom line: Though it would be nice if the shirts were made in America and not Malaysia, the quality is superior to what is found in stores. And in terms of internet-based shirtmakers, its only rivals are Neronote and Ratio Clothing.

J. Hilburn offers top-quality custom shirts at an affordable price. Using genuine mother of pearl buttons, a non-fused collar and ending the complimentary monogramming limitation would move the shirtmaker to the top of the list.

— Dennis Lennox

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