A Review Of J Hilburn Custom Dress Shirts — They Send A Stylist To Your House!
Welcome to the latest installment of our series on online custom menswear. Today we are taking a look at J Hilburn, an online MTM company that does things a little differently than most. They’ve been around for quite some time, and their unique take on online MTM has set them apart from the start. As is well known, the most difficult part about online MTM — the achilles heal, so to speak — has been the measuring process. Naturally, not everyone ordering an online MTM suit or shirt has any idea how to measure themselves properly for custom clothing. This is why things will often come out oddly or fitting poorly, and requiring a remake, or worse, a refund. On top of this, even those that do know how to properly measure for MTM, and are experienced in the realm of online custom clothing, still don’t know how each system and each company interprets those measurements. Thus, even if everything is done correctly on the part of the customer, the end result can still be a poorly fitting garment.
J Hilburn’s approach has therefore been to actually send out a personal “stylist” to your home or place of work to measure specifically for their system. That is right — over the years J Hilburn has built out something of a fleet of stylists, which means that most areas in most places have coverage, and you will be able to arrange to have someone come over to you and take your measurements and place your order.
In our experience, this is both a huge plus, and a significant negative. On the positive side of things, it takes all the pressure off of you. You don’t have to worry about measuring correctly, or entering in your numbers the right way, and so on. You get a much nicer experience being able to sit and look at fabric books to make your selection, and then just tell an actual human person what you want, as opposed to trying to figure out whatever online ordering system the specific company is using. So, that is all super nice. The downside, though, is that if you do know a nice amount about menswear and MTM, you will likely know more than your J Hilburn stylist. The reality is that these people are very lightly trained in online MTM, and J Hilburn’s system specifically. If you start asking any more complicated questions they will likely have no idea what you are talking about. For the first-timer, this is no big deal, and is actually an excellent thing to have someone suggest things to you and guide in what is at the very least a good direction. But for those more advanced, you will immediately recognize the fact that you know more than this “stylist” does. Finally, the whole order has to go through the stylist. Any reorder, if necessary, has to be approved by the stylist. All customer support and shipping updates all go through the stylist. So, that is neither inherently good or bad, but will largely depend on the stylist you end up with specifically.
Style & Design
J Hilburn offers quite a range of fabrics, as well as customization options. They have them all nice and neatly divided on their site so you can easily find the sort of shirt you are looking for. You can then either show this to your stylist, or, once you have ordered once, you can place the order online in the future, and then consult with your stylist as needed. We went pretty plain for our shirt, with a plain white fabric, no pocket, but we did choose a rather unique curved collar. We hoped it would be more of a curved cutaway — it’s more of a point collar — but it is still quite cool and unique, and looks especially great unbuttoned under a blazer.
The first shirt that came in fit decently, but needed to be taken in a bit, and have the sleeves and armholes adjusted. Additionally, it was a bit too long. In honesty, though, these were all relatively minor adjustments, and for a first fit was truly quite good. This is no doubt due to the fact that a stylist was the one that took the measurements, and was someone who knows the system and how the numbers need to be entered in. I requested a remake, and was told to speak to my stylist. She obliged, and put in a request for a remake with the new measurements. Oddly, they seemed not to be able to dart their shirts, which means that even the remake fits a bit poorly in the back of the shirt, but overall, is quite a solid fit, as you can see.
Quality & Construction
The fabric I chose was a stretch fabric, and I absolutely love it. It cost about $150, which is somewhat reasonable for a stretch fabric, especially a custom one. It is super comfortable, moves fantastically, and washes and wears very well. I have been wearing this shirt about once a week or so now for many months, and if it had a collar that I liked a bit more, would be one of my favorite shirts right now, hands down. I do wish they could dart the back, and I would likely slim down the sleeves and waist just a tiny bit on future orders. Overall, though, the shirt fits and wears excellently. All the finishing details are well done, and I really have no complaints as far as quality goes.
The two downsides to the fabric would be that it is certainly on the more see-through side, and it also wrinkles super easily, especially with little “micro wrinkles” that are quite hard to get out with an iron, and seem to always be there. Once the shirt is on, though, and under a blazer, we don’t much mind these issues.
Value & Conclusion
J Hilburn MTM Dress Shirts ($100+) — If you like the idea of a stylist, J Hilburn is pretty much the only place to go. It’s a unique system that has some great pros, as well as some cons. Their selection and quality is quite excellent for the price, though we do wish they have a bit more flexibility in their design for things like back darts and armhole adjustments. We could definitely see ourselves ordering from J Hilburn again, but given that they don’t have any less expensive options, and there are other options out there with cheaper prices and just as good fabrics (like Proper Cloth), we’re not sure that they would be our first stop. Overall, though, they are certainly worth checking out, and do deliver an excellent final product.