A few months back I was contacted by Kelvin Lam, one of the gents behind CottonWork, one of the many internet based custom shirt operations. Kelvin offered to send me a few shirts to review. I accepted and decided to purchase a third shirt with my own money. Anyway, CottonWork has been around for a few years and has established itself as one of the better online shirt endeavors. And as I now know, this reputation and respect is well justified.
As I noted, I ordered three shirts. I ordered a third shirt because there were too many things I wanted to test at CottonWork for just two shirts. This was also partially driven by the fact that I wanted to test the ability of CottonWork to meet my often high maintenance requests (I should also note that they have an extremely extensive selection of shirts at every price range). Anyway, I provided the exact measurements for the shirts and the relevant specs for the three shirts were as follows:
Thomas Mason blue houndstooth ($145) – full spread collar, french cuffs, thick MOP buttons, monogram on the sleeve placket, 3.25″ collar points.
Luxury collection white poplin ($85) – spread collar, Neapolitan cuff, MOP buttons, monogram on the sleeve placket, 3.125″ collar points.
Executive collection pink oxford ($75) – button down roll collar, button cuff, MOP buttons, monogram on sleeve placket.
After a few weeks time I received notification that the shirts had been completed and shipped and then a week or two later I received the shirts in the mail. And this brings up my only critique of CottonWork, the slow shipping. I personally would prefer a shipping time of a few days, which I feel is more the norm, as opposed to a week or more. But in the long run a few days of not having a shirt is inconsequential and it is more important that the shirts are of a good quality than the shipping.
Upon opening the package the shirts came folded and presented in a presentable manner. Upon initial review each of the shirts were made to my specifications. Both the measurements and details. Which this may mark the first time an online shirt/suit maker has gotten all of my specification correct; so CottonWork gets huge points for that. Additionally, the measurements were consistent across all three shirts, which is a good sign for CottonWork’s quality control and consistency. You can see the fit of the shirt in the photos below, which is not as relevant considering I provided all of the measurements for the shirts but it is important to realize how you can get a shirt to look using custom measurements (the shirt has been washed a few times so I do not expect any more shrinkage).
The construction quality of the shirts was also on point. The quality was the same for each of the shirts, that is, there is no difference in construction quality and method for shirts of Thomas Mason fabric over shirts from the executive collection; which is considerably less expensive. The stitching along the sides was clean, consistent and most importantly sturdy. The buttonholes were clean and the buttons themselves were quite nice; both the thick and thin mother of pearl. Each of the three shirting fabrics are nice, the Thomas Mason has the nicest feel, however, the two less expensive fabrics were also nice and I do not see myself ever complaining about them.
So the question arises, is it worth it to pay twice as much for a shirt from Thomas Mason fabric as opposed to the lesser collections. In short, if spending the money is not an issue than it is worth it. But if you are on a budget, I doubt you will be let down by Luxury or Executive collections; from what I have seen.
I would like to make particular note of four things that CottonWork did a particularly good job of impressing me with. The first is the roll on their ‘button down roll collar,’ as you can see in the photos above it indeed has a nice roll to it; which is even better when worn with a tie. Second, the Neapolitan cuff, which is sometimes referred to as a cocktail or James Bond cuff (Connery wore them in his early Bond days). From what I have seen CottonWork is the only online shirt maker that makes these cuffs and they are badass cuffs. I plan to order some more shirts with them. Third, in the additional notes section of my order I specified the collar point length for the turndown collars, and to my delight this request was met without error. Fourth, also in the additional notes section I requested that my monograms be placed on the sleeve placket; which is not a standard option. And again, my request was met without error.
To conclude this CottonWork shirt review, I give a strong recommendation for CottonWork. Although the shipping time does not mesh well with my impatience it is more than overshadowed by CottonWork’s ability to deliver a consistent product at a very reasonable price. And by very reasonable I mean as good of prices as I have seen anywhere. Additionally, CottonWork has proven its ability to meet special requirements, which for a more discerning customer like myself is crucial. If you have any questions, comments or would like to share your experience please sound off in the comments.
Justin L Jeffers
Note: FYGblog did receive compensation in the form of free product, however, the utmost effort is taken in holding an unbiased and objective position on the brand in review. Additionally, it is noted that shirts were also purchased at retail price.