Online Shirt Experiment and Review [Part Two]

Words by: Andrew Hodges

While continuing my experimentation with ordering made-to-measure dress shirts online, I discovered a relatively new Hong Kong company called Cottonwork.

Cottonwork offers a selection of over 750 different fabrics in three levels of quality.  Shirts in the Superior Collection, priced at $59.00, are 80 to 100 thread cotton.  Shirts in the Executive Collection, priced at $69.00, are two-ply 120 thread “Sea Island Quality” cotton.  And shirts in the Luxury Collection, priced at $79.00, are two-ply 180 thread “Sea Island Quality” cotton.  I understand that most of their fabrics are produced in India and Southeast Asia.  Cottonwork offers a free starter kit that includes a tape measure, pre-selected fabric samples from each of the three collections (so that you can get a feel for the quality of the fabric) and a discount coupon.

Once you have selected a fabric, the screen changes to a slick graphical vizualization tool.  You are presented with an animated picture of your shirt that changes as you select options from the multiple pull-down menus.  Those menus include fit (normal, slim or loose), collar style (seven options), cuff (six options), cuff style (beveled, round and straight), placket style, and pocket options.  You can also select an option for white collar or white cuff for no additional charge.  A second tab provides additional options including collar height, back details, bottom cut, sleeve width, and split yoke.  A third tab gives you options, priced at a nominal fee, for monograms, buttonhole thread colors, and contrasting fabrics inside the cuff and collar.

I ultimately ordered (on August 3 for those testing the speed of the process) a shirt made from a gray and white striped fabric from the Superior Collection.  I would have preferred one of the higher-quality fabrics, but the pattern I was seeking was unavailable in those collections.  I opted for a white collar and French cuffs.

I understand that the Cottonwork website is a work in progress, but I have a few gripes.  First, once you get to the checkout stage and review your order there is no way to make any changes to the details of your shirt.  It would be nice to be able to go back and edit at that stage.  Second, there is currently no option for a button upgrade (but I understand that is in the works).  Plastic buttons are apparently the standard.  Luckily I had a coupon code to upgrade to MOP buttons so that was a non-issue for me.

I do like the layout of the website, especially the vizualization tool that really gives you a good idea of the scale of the patterns.  I appreciate that additional fees are limited to the few options I previously mentioned.  The biggest boon is that shipping, from Hong Kong, is free.  So the final tally for my shirt was a mere $59.00.

I also found Cottonwork to be very responsive to communication via email.  After placing my order I realized that I had forgotten to specify a split yoke.  I also wanted to confirm receipt of the coupon code for the upgraded buttons.  Within about an hour I received a response to my email assuring me that both of those issues would be addressed.  I received another helpful email from Cottonwork questioning one measurement that I had inadvertently entered incorrectly.  Kudos for their customer service.

Expect a future review of my Cottonwork shirt.