Spier & Mackay: not one size fits all
Photography by Marcus Kan
Perfectly fitting, tailored clothing is a form of art. Buying off-the-rack works for the vast majority, but for people like Marcus and Stephen-Thomas, it can be a challenge to find the correct fit.
To put it in perspective: Marcus is 5’3’’, and Stephen-Thomas – 6’4”. Talk about extremes! Neither of them is remotely close to “average” height, so off-the-rack is usually a bust when it comes to dress attire.
Spier & Mackay is one of the well-kept secrets in menswear today. This Canada-based company has a range of products, including suits, sport coats, blazers, trousers, polos, and, of course, dress shirts. They offer both off-the-rack and custom options. Their custom shirt program not only allows customers to get exactly what they want with a precise fit, but it also feeds measurement data into their off-the-rack program, allowing Spier & Mackay to improve their shirt blocks (designs/fits).
Other tailors carry stock patterns (think designs or blueprints) that they, to some extent, can adjust based on your measurements. Spier & Mackay, however, draft a custom pattern just for you. They take into account many details when drafting the pattern, and the client can choose from several fit styles. The company does all of this directly for their customers, who save money by not having to deal with a middleman, the retailer. Prices are $79-$130 for custom pieces, with further savings of around $20 per shirt when you buy a total of three.
To further make your shirt stand out, Spier & Mackay limit the number of custom shirts they make out of each fabric by buying enough to make only a handful.
One of the brand’s customers only wears white dress shirts and dislikes going to the dry cleaner. So once a year, he orders 50 new white shirts. That’s enough to wear a fresh shirt five days a week for a month, while another month’s worth are at the cleaner’s.
“I was skeptical at first, to be honest. I had tried made-to-measure shirts before, and let’s just say it did not turn out well. During our meeting with Rikky Khanna, president and creative director at Spier & Mackay, he explained that his team was going to make a pattern just for me. I was instantly impressed. I also discovered the pricing was actually less than what I had paid for at my previous made-to-measure experience.
“Khanna walked us through his small showroom in Mississauga, Ontario, where the boys of Bay Street have been flocking for custom shirts. He quickly added that location number two is opening in 2016 at King and Yonge intersection in Toronto.
“Next, Khanna took us into a meeting room and laid out a collection of books of fabrics. Each book was clearly marked with the prices your custom shirt would cost. The options were plenty, but not overwhelming — unlike my made-to-measure experience where I spent 45 minutes trying to decide which of the 47 billion blue fabrics I wanted.
“I flipped through the books and instantly discovered a tight black and white micro plaid. It was casual for a dressy denim look, while still dressy enough for me to pair with my suit jacket.
“Then came the details. Looking at sample shirt components, I was able to choose the exact cuff, collar and placket option I wanted. To truly make the shirt mine, I chose a contrasting thread colour to be used for monogramming my cuff with STM.
“Unfortunately, when my shirt arrived, it just felt too tight to me. Khanna explained that this was probably due to it being cut in their contemporary cut and me not being used to fitted clothing. The fix was easy: now that they had my pattern and measurements on file, they could recut the shirt in their classic cut, which is slightly roomier!”
“As a person who has a small body frame, it is always a challenge to find a perfectly fitted shirt. Most of the pieces I find in stores are too big, even if they are extra small. Therefore, when I was invited to Spier & Mackay for the custom-shirt experience, I knew this would be my chance to get my perfect shirt.
“At the showroom, Khanna introduced us to the brand, and I was fascinated by the details of each shirt and suit. Khanna told us that a lot of customers would ask for custom-made shirts, but ended up leaving the store with off-the-rack products because the fittings were perfect. The price point was very affordable and this may explain why, according to Khanna, the company is selling 1,000 shirts per month.
“There were four tiers of fabric for us to choose from, and each fabric could make only eight shirts. As a person who loves colour, I chose a blue diamond-pattern fabric with orange threads for the buttons. I also asked to have my initials embroidered on the shirt (orange thread as well). After choosing both fabric and design, Khanna took my measurements.
“A month later, I received the shirt. As expected, it fit me like a glove, and I loved that there was no excessive fabric around the armpit area. The orange thread created a nice contrast against the blue-diamond pattern, and I felt like a millionaire when putting the shirt on!”