Review Of Hockerty Custom Dress Shirts
Note: See important update at the bottom of this post as of 1/15/19.
As a reader of this site, you are no doubt well aware that the world of online made to measure clothing companies is experiencing quite a boom right now. There are too many to count, and too many to keep track of. We’re here to do our best in trying, though, and so, today, we are taking a look at a custom dress shirt from Hockerty ($59+). We’ve taken a look at Hockerty before, because they are one of the few online MTM companies offering custom outerwear — and quite an extensive range at that. This time, though, we’re looking at online MTM’s bread and butter: custom dress shirts.
Style & Design
We went with a 100% linen shirt since we started this process way back when it was summer. We chose a nice light blue and white striped shirt, and opted for a cutaway collar, and no chest pockets. The result was a refined, yet casual look, perfect for sitting by the pool, but something that would work just as well tucked in, under a navy blazer. This was exactly what we were going for when we placed the order, and so the shirt really came out just how we wanted it to, as far as the design and styling.
When you’re designing your own shirt through Hockerty, you’ll notice that they do have quite a nice selection of fabrics. They have the classic, plain colors, but they also offer a number of great patterns, plaids, stripes, and more. It’s not a seemingly infinite amount of fabrics, nor is it super curated. In our opinion, it’s the perfect middle ground. Not too much choice, but not too little either. For the most part, if there is a dress shirt fabric you want, you’ll be able to find it, or something close to it, on Hockerty. A
Hockerty has, hands down, one of the best online ordering experiences out there. There is an intricate and adaptable live-updating render of the garment you are designing, and it instantly updates to reflect any customization options you choose. It’s wonderful, and truly fun to use and design clothing with. As you move through the design process, everything updates live as you go, allowing you to see everything from the collar choice, to the button and cuff choice.
Filtering fabrics to find the one you want is also super easy and functional, and this is especially important with a place like Hockerty since, as they occupy the lower end as par as prices go, and are quite a bit cheaper than most other MTM shirting companies,
As far as options, you have quite a few, and I have actually seen them add some in the last few months. They have tons of collar options — any you might want — and even offer soft collar and cuff options. They have plenty of cuff options as well, and just about any customization under the sun, you’re able to do with Hockerty. They only thing we wish they offered as a popover option for shirts. While they do short sleeves, popovers is something that they do not (yet) offer. A
The Fitting Process
Once you place the order, shipping is amongst the fastest times for online MTM, arriving in under 3 weeks, and sometimes closer to 2. In fact, they also offer a rush shipping option — for those times you truly need it — at an up-charge. This is nice to know that they have this, and something most other places do not even offer. The shirt arrives via DHL in a double bag, but nothing special beyond that. Super minimal packaging. This is, obviously, an area to cut costs, and I would much rather a simpler, cheaper shipping bag and pay less for the shirt than a nicer box, but have shirts be close to double the Hockerty starting price.
But, of course, the most important aspect of MTM clothing is how it fits. So, how did Hockerty do? Well, it seems that their algorithms are not quite as good as other online MTM companies we have tested, as, despite using all the same measurements that I usually do, the result was definitely pretty off. It wasn’t a total disaster, but it needed a lot of work. As you can see, the shirt was much too long, the chest and waist too roomy, and the hip area oddly flaring out, with a measurement close to 4.00” larger than any other shirt I have ever owned.
Still, the key aspect to MTM is the relationship with the tailors, or, at least, the company sending it out to the tailors. This allows a feedback loop where you can tell them what you would like tweaked, and they can make the adjustments for a remake, and then tweak with each subsequent order, refining and further refining the fit, making it an ongoing, and continually improving process. Each subsequent garment should fit even better than the one before, as you make minor adjustments perfecting your fit. While this process has been super easy with most other companies we have tried, Hockerty’s “feedback loop” is, despite loving so many other aspects of the service, its weakest point by far. There is no phone number to call, and emails take at least a day to receive a reply. Once they did reply, they pushed me to have the shirt tailored instead of offering a remake. A tailor could not have easily remedied all that was wrong with the shirt, but, more importantly, you want to be able to order with confidence, and know that the company can produce a garment for you that will not need any tailoring. MTM companies should be very forthcoming with remakes the first time you order. MTM almost never comes out perfectly the first time, and a remake is almost always necessary. That is why true bespoke tailors use basting garments for this phase. While I don’t expect basting garments, I do expect a willingness to remake the shirt, to prove that they can nail it without the need for tailoring, and an understanding that if they do, then they have secured a long term customer. In short, it took quite a bit of fighting with Hockerty before they agreed to do a remake.
Then, despite my telling them exactly what to change over email, the remake arrived and still was not correct. They improved upon the fit, but it was not actually what I told them to adjust. And this, truly, is the issue with Hockerty. There is no easy way for you to update your fit profile, or speak to an expert and go over tweaks. While they do have a fit profile online, it’s not explained or easy to understand like a place like Proper Cloth. Even I, who is pretty experienced with these things, was too scared to change anything, unsure if I was changing garment measurements or body measurements. Say I put on a couple pounds over the next year — it is super easy to call up Proper Cloth and ask them to update your measurements. Hockerty, not so much. You can email them, they’ll say “okay, we got it,” but then there is no way to see exactly what is being changed, or know exactly how it will come out.
Now, I was assured by their product marketing team leader that the fit profiles are soon being updated to make this process a bit easier, but I think they are way, way away from a system like Proper Cloth or Indochino. There just isn’t an assuring relationship with the “tailor” in this scenario. It’s hard to know how it will come out.
I must also say that I was assured that the unwillingness to process a remake was a mistake, and they do 100% stand behind their products, and will remake the garment until it is perfect. Indeed, they did run through yet another remake until they arrived at the final fit that is shown in the pictures throughout this review. However, even this final fit needed a few tweaks that I would like made to future orders. I emailed them with what they should be, and ordered a new shirt from them, and we shall see how that turns out.
(Also, further confusing things, now that my measurements have been updated for my shirts, they are going to be different for outerwear. So, even though they nailed that fitting on the second try last time, this time, they cannot make a coat to the old specifications. They only maintain a single measurement profile for each user, not per garment. Again, I ordered another coat, and we shall see how it comes out.)
The final fit of the shirt was, like I said, pretty close to perfect. Chest, waist, and length was all quite nice. The shirt also does not suffer from a disproportionately long tail, allowing for untucked, casual wear (I’m looking at you, Proper Cloth!). Sleeves fit nice and trim, as does the high armhole. I still need the hip measurement to come down just a touch, though, and the waist and chest need the slightest tweaks, too. Overall fit, though, is very solid, after the second remake.
In all, Hockerty did, in the end, deliver. But it was not nearly as assuring or easy as other MTM companies we have tested. It’s not at all a horror story, and, like I said, they do seem to, in the end, stand behind their product. But the process is not as simple, clean, or easy as other MTM companies. However, the cost savings has to come from somewhere, and considering just about every other element of Hockerty is super impressive (as you will continue to see), it clearly came from here. B-
Quality & Construction
First, the not-so-good. Hockerty offers many fabrics that are polyester, or similar synthetic, blends. Look out for these, and try to avoid them. If you click the little “i” button on each fabric, you can see the makeup very easily. Hockerty absolutely does not try to hide it. But if you can get a 100% cotton shirt for the same price as a blend, you absolutely should. This aside, though, you can get some wonderful shirts from Hockerty. Many of their fabrics are 100% cotton, or linen, or other natural fibers, and the linen shirt we got felt really great. It was not the nicest linen I have ever felt, but it was absolutely on par with something you might find at Uniqlo or Banana Republic. The construction itself was very solid too. While the buttons were plastic, they were substantial and well sewn. There was no misplaced or unfinished stitching, and the shirt has held up perfectly, with no shrinkage, after multiple wash and wear cycles. For $59, color me impressed! A-
Value & Conclusion
Hockerty Dress Shirts — $59+: There are not many online MTM companies that offer shirts starting at this price point. Hockerty gets to that price point by cutting costs in packaging (who cares?), offering some blended fabrics (just avoid them), and not having the best customer service (we’ll get back to this in a second). The fabrics that are not blends are plenty good for the price, and hold their own against shirts more expensive from other MTM companies, even. (I actually ordered two shirts from Hockerty, and one is the exact same fabric I see offered at another online MTM company at almost twice the price.) Construction is solid, as well, and their website and ordering process and experience is truly second to none. However, in MTM, the relationship with the tailor is paramount. And Hockerty doesn’t have the best in this regard. They’ll stand behind their products, but they do have work to do to make the ordering process something more confident. I have been promised they are working on this, and I hope to see it soon. We also ordered a suit from Hockerty, and we shall see how that comes out as well. In the end, the value is certainly here. You’re getting more than what you pay for, and, if you are able to nail down your fit with them, you’ll get a tremendous value. Just know that it’ll be more difficult than somewhere more expensive. How you balance these things in your personal evaluation of where to order from is up to you. At the lower tier price point, though, Hockerty is the best we have seen by far.
UPDATE 1/15/19: We recently placed a new order for another shirt using the updated measurements profile, and the result was a disaster. The fit was totally wrong, way too large, and it was as if they reverted to an older, wrong version of the fit. We’re not sure what wrong, but despite trying yet another time, the shirt still came out wrong. Either Hockerty’s system is severely flawed, or their production is wildly inconsistent. Worse, they support was quite difficult to get to agree to a remake and then, finally, a refund.
Given all that, we absolutely cannot recommend Hockerty for online MTM shirts. Their quality, support, and consistency is all too suspect to be justified by their slightly lower price. Spending just a few more dollars get you a much better overall experience.