Manufacturing in the U.S.A.
Over the years, many manufacturers have moved their manufacturing overseas, primarily in an effort to reduce costs. Despite some of the apparent cost advantages this can provide, we are convinced that, when everything is considered, manufacturing in the U.S.A. is the right thing for The Shirt Store.
For years, I have subcontracted cutting and sewing to the Barnesboro Shirt Company in Barnesboro, PA. The factory,which is 300 miles west of New York City, is close enough to allow me to regularly inspect the quality of the work
being done at the factory. And, believe me, manufacturing one of our shirts is a complex process — 52 sewing operations, including 13 or 14 for collars alone. And that’s for our stock shirts, not custom-made!
Even more important, having the plant this close makes it possible for The Shirt Store to be a fashion setter instead of a follower. When I have an idea for a new shirt, I can work closely with the factory and see the results in weeks,not months, as is usually the case with plants overseas. By working directly with Yale Shanfield, who owns the plant, I can adjust my product line to quickly respond to new fashion trends and immediate customer needs.
How Do You Know If Your Shirt’s Well-made?
You should get the best shirt for your money. Here are some
features to look for in a well-constructed shirt:
The seams are stitched down one side, then down the other side, each time with one needle to form a lock stitch. This is the finest and strongest formation that can be used. Double needle stitching, which sews both sides of the seam at the same time, using a double needle, is cheaper and faster for the manufacturer, but can cause the seams to pucker when laundered.
Tight, Close Stitches
The tighter the stitch (the more stitches per inch), the stronger your shirt will be. The stitches should be difficult
to count, but if your eyes are good, you should see at least
18 stitches per inch. If there are fewer, the seams will open
Vertical Seam on the Yoke
Custom shirt makers use a split yoke so they can adjust the height of each shoulder separately. A good ready-made shirt will be styled with a vertical seam on the yoke to follow this tradition. This feature is called a “split” yoke.
This button that closes the gap on the sleeve used to be called a gauntlet button. It was originally used so the cuffs could be rolled back when washing. This
handy button now closes the gap at the wrist and is considered a sign of a well-
Pleats at Cuff
Look for a couple of pleats where the sleeve meets the cuff.This is an extra touch that is more difficult to achieve, but adds style to the shirt, and also a better fit in the arm area.
Exact Sleeve Lengths
Buy only shirts that are sized to your exact length. They will fit you better. Avoid the average sleeve length shirts that are sized 32/33, 34/35, etc.
Buttons should be well secured so that they stay on during laundering.
A Front Placket/Center Pleat
A plain closing is not as strong as one with a stitched-down fold of fabric down
the front, called a placket or center pleat.
Cotton shirts should use 100% cotton linings so that the shrinkage factor is the same in both lining and fabric. Resin is added to the lining to hold the finish and keep the shape.
The choice of a soft lining on the button-down, and the heavier lining on the non-button-down collars will help insure a proper look. I use a fusible lining in the collars of my non-button-down stock shirts to help eliminate the laundry problem of creasing collars. The lining is fused to the top of the collar leaf, using an adhesive resin applied with heat and pressure. This process makes it much easier to iron the collar smoothly after laundering.
The choice of the correct width and weight of top-center lining is important to make the shirt hold up through many launderings.
The weight of the French cuff lining and the button-cuff lining can be the difference between a crisp finish and a limp cuff.
Finally, or perhaps first of all, choose a shirt made of 100% cotton.
Polyester blends will not hold up as well and will never be as crisp looking after laundering as 100% cotton.