measuring tape lg Bespoke 2.0: Get him a custom shirt for Valentines DayOnline shopping is wildly convenient if you’re tight on time or live out in the boonies, miles from a mall. But often with convenience, comes compromise– on both quality and tailored fit because it’s hard to tell from a picture, especially of a supermodel, what the clothes really look like and how they will fit on you.

Three of today’s hottest fashion start-ups, recommended to me by none other than the founders of Of A Kind, are defining a niche for themselves by selling custom-made men’s shirts online. How do they compare? TNW takes out the measuring tape.

Proper Cloth

Screen shot 2011 02 03 at 10.26.28 AM Bespoke 2.0: Get him a custom shirt for Valentines DayFounder: Seph Skerritt
Location: New York City
Launched: October, 2008

Proper Cloth provides customers with various methods for determining size to help them create “the perfect size.” Customers can follow video tutorials on how to measure their body, answer a “smart sizes” survey, choosing from a database of other brand sizes, or by just going with simple standard sizes.

Screen shot 2011 02 03 at 10.26.42 AM 260x248 Bespoke 2.0: Get him a custom shirt for Valentines DayCBM: How could a girl get her boyfriend’s size?

Seph Skerritt: If you’re going to buy your boy a shirt and you want it to be a surprise, you should sneak into his closet and measure his favorite shirt when he’s not around. I will gladly send out a measuring tape to help with this. She could also just measure his body directly with his cooperation. Folks in New York are welcome to drop by their office for a fitting too.

Proper Cloth also offers gift cards. For gift certificates over $120, they include a cool gift box with fabric samples and a measuring tape.

Proper Cloth guarantees a perfect fit by giving every customer complimentary alterations on his first shirt. Expect an updated version in another 2 weeks after emailing the company. They have something for everyone – lots of cool, trendy casual styles that aren’t too expensive and more high-end looks. The combinations are endless and each shirt can be shared on Facebook and Twitter. They’re currently showing 80 fabrics, 4 collar styles, 3 cuff styles, 4 button options, 80 accent options, monogram options, and more. Shirts start at $89 and go up to $300 and delivery is guaranteed 2-3 weeks after purchase, shipping is free. Shirts are manufactured in Malaysia.

CBM: Your thoughts on 2011 trends in men’s fashion?

SS: Slimmer cuts continue to be popular, which makes custom fit even more important. For casual styles, tailored oxford cloth button downs and plaids are definitely going to be big this year.

Biased Cut

Screen shot 2011 02 03 at 11.40.04 AM 260x36 Bespoke 2.0: Get him a custom shirt for Valentines DayFounders: Jonathan Cheng, Annie Tai, and Eric Bertelsen
Location: Headquartered in NYC, offices also in Hong Kong
Launched: December 2009

Biased Cut asks customers to provide 11 different body measurements, including their height and weight. They provide detailed instructions with images, as well as a video guide and our available for questions. Biased Cut keeps an experienced tailor on staff who sometimes makes adjustments based on his expertise, and if anything looks to be too far off Biased Cut’s staff will reach out directly to the customers. And if for some reason the shirt is anything less than a great fit, they personally work with the customer to ensure it gets there.

Screen shot 2011 02 03 at 11.40.34 AM 260x302 Bespoke 2.0: Get him a custom shirt for Valentines Day CBM: How could a girl get her boyfriend’s size?

Eric Bertelsen: Aside from measuring him in his sleep (assuming you have ninja-like qualities), the only way to really surprise him with an actual shirt is to sneak into his closet and measure one of his best-fitting ones. Of course, this gives you a new shirt that only fits as well as his existing one.

Alternatively, we’d suggest taking the measurements under his consent, which is actually a pretty simple process and only takes 5 minutes (and we’ll send you a free measuring tape). Or, you can purchase a gift card from us, and then let him have more input in the process.

Shirts are priced at $85 or $95, and first time customers receive a $20 store credit just for signing up. The online store typically carries 15-20 styles, with variations on collar and cuff type. “We prefer to keep our collection a little more curated and make the little decisions for the customer, things like pleats, pockets, stitching, button type, etc,” says Bertelsen. Most of their shirts are available in limited quantities and they rarely restock fabrics.

Everyone from the team contributes to the design process. We source fabrics from around the world, so we’re constantly searching for the best that’s out there. We have an exhaustive selection process, always taking in consideration things like quality, value, durability, season, and (sometimes) current trends. -Eric Bertelsen

Their shirts are tailored by a modern tailoring shop in Hong Kong that has experience with numerous internationally renowned brands. Two of B.C.’s team members, Cheng and Tai reside there permanently, allowing the company to work personally with the tailors on new designs and adjustments and do onsite quality control.

Shirts are delivered within 3-4 weeks from order date. Shipping within the US costs $5 per order, and $15 for international deliveries.

CBM: Your thoughts on 2011 trends in men’s fashion?

EB: We won’t go outside of our comfort zone of shirts, but we expect men’s shirting to see a lot of carryover from 2010 trends. Brightly colored ginghams will likely remain popular, perhaps with an emphasize on the smaller checks (aka microchecks). Chambray was and continues to be popular for the more casual shirts, but that may run its course in 2011. Some interesting bright and bold solids have also been appearing recently.

Other design features to watch for are a shrinking collars and club collars. We aren’t big fans of the thin collars, but we love the club. It’s a cheeky, smart touch to an otherwise traditionally styled shirt that still has roots in classic men’s style.

Deo Veritas

Screen shot 2011 02 03 at 3.46.18 PM Bespoke 2.0: Get him a custom shirt for Valentines DayFounder: Vinnie Sikka
Location: Chicago
Launched: 2007

Deo Veritas was founded on the principle that hand made clothing should not be a luxury afforded only to the affluent. The platform ensures a great fit by offering 3 measurement methods which addresses most body types and proportions.

CBM: How could a girl get her boyfriend’s size?

Vinnie Sikka: Measuring an existing shirt out of a man’s closet is the easiest way to get his measurements, particularly if you can find a shirt that you know fits him well. If you’re not intending to make this a surprise, taking his measurements for him would also be a great option.

Screen shot 2011 02 03 at 3.42.10 PM 260x317 Bespoke 2.0: Get him a custom shirt for Valentines DayDeo Veritas offers a basic ‘tester’ shirt for $45 for those new to e-tailoring. Their most expensive line is the premium, silky smooth Thomas Mason line, which tops out at $144 a shirt. They offer 80 different fabric choices, 6 different collars, 5 different cuffs, 3 placket styles and 3 back pleat styles.

They offer monogramming, options for collar stays, matching pocket squares, contrasting fabric (for the inner collars and cuffs) and an option for sewn collar. Their shirts are produced at their central production facility in Hong Kong, which is a major destination for travelers looking for inexpensive, high-quality tailored clothing.

The typical shirt delivery time from order placement is 28 – 31 days, so a little slow if you’re looking to buy your honey a shirt for the big V-Day. For an additional cost of $40, shirts can arrive in as little as 10 days should customers select the rush delivery option. Delivery is free to the US and Canada. Worldwide shipping is available for an additional, nominal fee — calculated at checkout based on geographic region.

CBM: Your thoughts on 2011 trends in men’s fashion?.

VS: Tapered (not super slim) cuts that accentuate the shoulders and chest, shorter collars, solid grays, gingham checks, and bold stripes have been trending up for sometime. Stay away from ridiculous contrast options, i.e. black and white check pattern on a maroon striped shirt — subtlety will win you points. The ‘flowback’, aka cocktail cuff has also been making a bit of a resurgence — for any film buffs these are also known as the “James Bond” cuffs, popularized by Sean Connery & Roger Moore back in the 60’s and 70’s. A bit flashy, but they can work with the right outfit.

While Deo Veritas doesn’t have a store, it has started offering an ‘off the rack’ collection in select stores in Chicago.

Just to engage in a little skepticism I reached out to two of my favorite well-dressed men.

zebra 260x202 Bespoke 2.0: Get him a custom shirt for Valentines DayLife enthusiast, CJN says, “On some level,  sending your measurements makes sense. On another level, being measured by someone that has made lots of shirts and understands the subtle details of fit, etc. is another. There are lots of little details that, in aggregate, add up to a lot. I don’t think you could ever really get a perfect shirt from one of these sites.”

Graphic designer, Allbriton Robbins suggested you check out Alexander West (and tell them he sent you) because he will measure you in person and offer custom cuts.
^man chic.