To build a great American brand, we knew we had to start with a truly great product. We'll be sharing through a series of blog posts a glimpse into the process of starting from scratch.
We had a great starting point. Our goal was to combine the best of performance fabrics with refined look of a traditional dress shirt. Our unique approach to a dress shirt didn't stop at a new fabric and intricate construction methodology. We were meticulous about the fit. The best clothes in the world mean nothing if the fit isn't perfect. Most high end male shoppers hate the finding process to begin with. Add to it the frustration of a key staple of your wardrobe never fitting off the rack, and a bad situation gets worse.
Work began with our pattern maker while fabric selection was still going on - this was going to be a lengthy endeavor. You can't just tell a pattern maker "make me a dress shirt" - every detail must be selected, from the length of the body and sleeves, to the width of the waist, chest, and arms. This is still drastically simplifying the number of variables that are decided before we even begin making our first shirt. When it comes to the cuffs, beyond just the diameter and width, there are a large number of cuff styles available. Of course, collar style is important too, along with the nuances of the collar fit itself. Easy so far, right?
We spoke to countless friends, family, strangers, shirting experts, tailors, merchandising managers at companies both large and small, and studied up on consumer sentiment and frustrations. What works? What doesn't? What are the biggest shortcomings? Why aren't other companies addressing these problems?
Our focus was on not only creating a (much) better dress shirt, but a (much) better fitting dress shirt as well. We knew that our shirts would have an athletic cut to them because there is simply nothing that caters to men who want to find something other than a (insert generic brand name here) blousy dress shirt that makes guys either a) look terrible or b) deal with extensive tailoring on an already expensive item. Life shouldn't be this complicated.
We went back and forth too many times to count with our pattern makers. Fix the sleeves here. Bring the waist in a bit more from here to here. The yoke needs to be wider at these points. The buttons should be spaced a little different. Make the plackets a bit longer. Change the stitching. You're probably getting the picture at this point. Our pattern makers may have not loved our extensive attention to detail, but they loved how much work we sent them. Oh, and all of this was to create the first shirt, a medium.
From here, we had to grade the shirt pattern smaller and larger for the rest of our sizes, and repeat the whole process for each size. Making the process that much more interesting at each stage is the fact that our unique fabrics have significant stretch to them. An inch is not always an inch when dealing with our fabrics in terms of preparing our fit, so we had to be sure to get it right accounting for even more variables.
We get many questions as to why size a dress shirt with the label S - XXL. Simply put, the fabrics are so unique and fall so beautifully on different body types, that we felt it was best to let people pick their general size and watch as the shirt fits them perfectly, off the rack. This is a preferable process for all parties rather than have our customers worry about 0.5 inch measurements that don't apply universally with our fabrics.
Of all the things most rewarding in the construction of this one of a kind dress shirt, hearing customer after customer express shock, and gratitude, for the incredible fit off the rack is the best. Athletes - whether of the NFL, NBA, or the CrossFit Games - who already know and love performance fabrics, are surprised at first to see the fabric used this way but are downright amazed when they see how well a Mizzen+Main shirt fits. No high end men's shirting brand ever fits an athlete off the rack. Until now.
This was so much more than fabric + sewing = shirt. Every element of the fit was specifically chosen. Mizzen+Main is a labor of love.