- Have Your Own Designer Shirts, a startup founded by two Danish guys, Michael Yang and Peter Crawfurd, lets you to design your own custom dress shirts with an online tool. It’s possible to select from several fabrics, combine with different cuts, thread colors, collars, cuffs, pockets and buttons and fit the shirt with your own measurements. You can order several or just one shirt with your own custom design and pay only for the base fabric.

shirtsmyway-sshotThe shirt design and order process is pretty nifty and you get a visual proof of every change. Co-founder Peter Crawfurd mentions about developing the site: “Not only is the programming of the site difficult, we had to make about two thousand images to make the shirt model work.”

In any case, the actual concept is far from simple, since the company is dealing with over 7 trillion different possible designs of an actual physical product. “This also means that we have a very detailed quality control check to make sure everything is as it should be.”, Peter continues. Founders believe that tackling a hard and unique problem is a key edge in a market as completive as clothing.

Company is actually headquartered in Hong Kong has been in business for a month. Founders tell us that they’re planning and making continuous improvements on the site but still gathering data deciding where to focus their efforts.

ShirtsMyWay’s concept is somewhat similar what we have seen with other on-demand online services like Lulu for book publishing and with those endless t-shirt stores. It's interesting to see if the concept can be profitably transferred to other sectors as well from clothing and printing.

When mass-markets are ruled by big players producing standard products, is there a cap for small startups to deal with customers that want something different? ShirtsMyWay seems to believe so and shows it’s also possible without huge resources.

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Dan, March 21, 2009

A fair word of warning to people interested in I wish I had read one before I ordered.

I was very excited to find an alternative to ordering bespoke shirts from my tailor. Not that he doesn’t deserve the mark-up – it’s just that as a post-doc I can’t really afford his spectacular service. So imagine the euphoria, when I thought I could get shirts matching in quality, for a quarter of the price, straight from the Internet.

I meticulously measured the required lengths with the help of my wife. I could’ve done something wrong, but it really was in the right ballpark – at least compared to the received outcome. The shirt arrived in just 6 business days – despite me skipping the more expensive 9 day-delivery and opting for the free 15-day one. That is where the positive surprises ended.
Firstly, the fabric. I ordered the basic white option, described as ‘medium thick’ cotton. I kid you not – I own towels and rugs more suited for use in a formal dress shirt! The coarseness, the thickness, hardness of the fabric – tt would be unimaginable to wear the shirt on a hot, sunny day. I do not know, what they did to the collar – it is thicker than the lapels of my suits. The overall finish quality is appalling – stitching is a bit sloppy and over the place – lines aren’t straight, there are a couple of loose threads hanging here and there.
Even if one could live with the fabric, or assuming the other fabrics are better, I found lots of disappointing details.
Starting from the top: collar stays. I ordered the removable ones – the opening for them is non-standard (at least mine do not fit), and none were shipped with the shirt.
Amount of buttons. 6? 6?!! My dress shirts have 8-9 buttons on the placket. I can just imagine the charm of my chest hair sticking out of the shirt.
This relates closely to the length of the shirt and form of the bottom cut. The shirt is 4cm too short, despite the measurement being made according to the instructions, following a perfect exemplary bespoke shirt. The variance of the lengths of the side and front of the ‘tail’ cut is almost twice as big, as I’ve used to. Result: On the sides, the lower seam of the shirt isn’t covered by my suit trousers!

The same applies to the length of the sleeve and the cuffs. I don’t need to unbutton the cuffs to put the shirt on. And when it is on, the cuffs are 10 cm above my knuckles. Despite best efforts to make the measurements right, once again.

And finally, even if I could live with all this, the fit of the shirt is awful. The tailor obviously had problems with understanding the ‘slim fit’ option. Despite being a tall guy with big bones, I sure as heck want to show off my athletic build, in which my previous bespoke shirts have definitely helped – try finding a slim fit dress shirt with a 112cm chest and 87cm gut! The result of attempting those measurements: the whole shirt looks funny and a bit skewed. And it isn’t even close to my definition of slim fit – it hangs loose.

I deeply regret spending 59$ on this shirt. Perhaps this was just an unfortunate accident, and all other customers are satisfied – I will be more than glad to see this business and the business model evolve into something usable.

Karri Saarinen, March 21, 2009

@Dan, thanks for sharing and sorry to hear it didn't work out so well. I hope you contacted the company regarding your experience, if there is something they can help you with.