We Tried Topman “Muscle Fit” Shirts!
Topman is not exactly known for their superb quality or high-end lines of clothing. They’re not super respected, per se, as far as those things are concerned. Still, they seem to occupy an interesting space somewhere above H&M or Zara — though not by much. Their clothes come from the UK, and so their styling leans a bit more in that direction. While you can order directly from their site, it’s likely easier for more guys to get their stuff through Nordstrom’s. Why buy their stuff, though? Well, we can think of a few reasons. For one, it’s slightly higher quality fast fashion. If you like the designs of H&M or Zara garments, and are willing to pay a bit more for slightly better quality, then Topman is the answer. They have pretty extensive lines with lots of options. But the most likely reason a guy would be interested in Topman is because of their fits. They cater very heavily towards taller, slimmer guys, and offer shirts, suits, pants, coats, etc that are all cut quite slim off the rack. So, no tailoring, and it makes everything very easy.
But, in our experience, you’ll have to put up with quite a bit. For one, if you’re not interested in the “fast fashion” look, then Topman is not gonna be for you. Their suits are cut short, for instance, and their general look is one that leans super trendy. Still, they do offer many pieces that aren’t quite so blatant. The problem then becomes quality and consistency. Allow us to explain…
One of the fits that Topman is most famous for is something called their “Muscle Fit.” It’s designed to be extra trim through the waist, as well as through the sleeves — two famous problem areas for taller, slimmer guys. And when they say slim here, they mean slim. This is not your typical slim fit. This is a really, truly, very slim cut shirt. And, again, for many guys, that is what the desperately want. So, great, we thought! We ordered a bunch to give them a go and see what we though.
For starters, the quality was, as is to be expected, not too great. The fabrics are scratchy and feel like something out of Zara, not Uniqlo (just to give a point of comparison). They’re also on the thinner and wispier side, and all have rather cheap-feeling buttons. We found a hole through one of the shirts as well. So, from a quality perspective, you’re getting fast-fashion quality. It’s not H&M level cheap, but it’s not Uniqlo level solid either. It’s in between. Livable, if you must, but far from ideal. If you really love that Muscle Fit, we suppose, then these might still be a good bet.
So how is that Muscle Fit? Yes, it 100% does what it claims to do. It is super trim through the waist, as well as through the arms. We also loved that all the shirts had added stretch, keeping them extra comfortable and movable despite being cut so slim. They also do a good job balancing the chest measurements with the waist, making sure nothing is too constricting, and that the shirt really only slims down radically in the waist specifically. This is something many shirts have a hard time with — and, when making a shirt slimmer, most companies end up making the chest and armholes impossibly tight. Not so here with Topman. So, from that vantage point, these are, then, excellently fitting shirts for the truly slimmer guy. They’re too tight on me; they would work great for a guy who can never find shirts slim enough for him.
But there are a couple problems here. For one, the cuffs do not really slim down. This is an oversight with many shirt companies that we complains about time and again. If you’re making a shirt that is super slim, you have to slim down the cuff opening too. That was hardly done here. They’re on the slimmer side, yes, but not by much. Then you have the weird styling, like the mini cuffs or the lackluster collars. But perhaps the biggest issue of all is just how wildly inconsistent this “Muscle Fit” is. We tried four different shirts, and each one fit differently than the next. Three were the same size Medium, while one was a Large. Each Medium fit differently than the others did, and the Large was actually not at all bigger in many measurements than the Mediums. If Topman is to have a flagship fit like this, and champion it as the ideal shirt for slimmer men, then said men have to be able to buy the shirts without thinking. If they were to try that, each shirt would fit radically differently. And we’re talking full inches here, not millimeters or something. That is just no good. It’s unacceptable. And while it is par for the course with fast fashion, it further reduces the value proposition here.
And then we come to the price. At full retail, which is usually what these things go for, these shirts hover in the $50-$60 range. They are just way overpriced! Fabric is lackluster, fit is inconsistent, and there seems to be quality control issues as well. For $60 from just about anywhere else you can do way, way better. Which leads us to the point we always make here, which is that the world of menswear is different now. For $60 (okay, just a few bucks more), you can get a custom made shirt that will fit you even better, is designed to your specifications, and will be way higher quality. We don’t know who Topman thinks they’re competing with here, but it’s a new world out there. And not one that we think has a place for $60 “Muscle Fit” shirts that are inconsistent, cheaply made, and don’t feel so great. We’re not inherently knocking them, though. And if you like them, more power to you! We just think that there is better value out there. And we hope, at the very least, that Topman recognizes that sooner rather than later.