October 16, 2014

A Letter To Our Customers: Handmade In Portugal

We've always wanted to offer fine shirting as part of our collection of men's essentials. Surely, you think our shirting is quite fine already and are a little confused by our language.

Think Turnbull and Asser, Brioni or even our own custom collection produced by the Gamberts. Our criteria of "fine" is met when exceptional cloth is handled by a maker whose needles and hands are trained only to produce the pinnacle of their craft.

We have tried to produce this level of shirting at our small sew shop in San Francisco but the the results have not been quite right. The factory here that we have worked with for the past five years produces exceptional quality. The nine seamstresses are able to sew our casual shirts wonderfully but they were never trained in nor have they specialized in fine shirting. Versatility has served them well and kept them in business for decades. They have been a vital part to the early success of The North Face, Esprit and many others.

We have always played to their strength and focused on producing rugged oxfords and everyday shirting. It has taken us some restraint not to force through a finer shirting offering.

This past March we traveled to Portugal to meet with the fabric mills we work with. While there, the owner of one of the mills strongly suggested we visit a small shirtmaker located outside Lisbon.

Our flight was leaving in less than 24 hours, so we piled into the car and sped off toward the small town. We hoped hoped to pay them a visit before they closed for the day.

Upon arriving, Luis, the owner greeted us warmly despite us. His shirt facility was deep in the countryside and hard to find, tucked behind an old stone wall on a windy street.

The scene inside was astonishing. A small but immaculate floor whirled beautifully crafted shirts around with precision. He handed us a finished sample of his work and we all smiled. We've always wanted to offer a shirt like this. The collar turned, folded and ironed to perfection. The button holes were beautiful and there wasn't a stitch out of place. We were standing on hallowed shirting grounds.

After dinner with Luis, we learned that he and his father have been running this factory for over forty years. Luis worked beside his father during summers while growing up and took over the business ten years ago. Throughout the factory's history they specialized in only one thing, fine shirting.

For the past five months we have been patterning, sampling and perfecting our first dress shirt offering, The Hyde.

We know many of you feel strongly about made in the U.S.A., as do we. Understand that Luis and his small operation are a welcomed addition to what we do here in America. His exacting standards and dedication to his craft have allowed us to offer you an exceptional shirt at a great value. We are quite excited for you to see and feel the result of our work with him.