The Handmade Shirt by Mercer & Sons

Editor’s note: I am admittedly biased about this product. I once walked into a Brooks Brothers store wearing a Mercer & Sons rolled-collar, red-and-black tattersall, and was immediately greeted by a wide-eyed salesperson whose first words to me were: “Nice shirt!”

Its geography may have changed multiple times during the past 30 years, but there’s been one constant at Mercer & Sons:


The company first started making bespoke shirts in Boston, then moved to Rhode Island, then to Maine, where it stayed for 10 years. More recently, it put down roots in Montana, though its shirts are still made by hand back east.

And they’re near-perfect.

“The biggest complaint we get is that the shirts last too darn long – people say they’d like to buy more, but they don’t wear out,” says David Mercer, owner of the company.

That’s because Mercer is picky about the kinds of cloth the company chooses for the shirts it sells. The basic button-down is a six-ounce, two-ply, yarn-dyed, pima cotton oxford cloth. There’s a pinpoint with the same weave, and a broadcloth with a smooth finish and a tighter weave. They range in price from $125 to $175, with a 25 percent discount for first-time buyers.

“The cost of the shirt relates to the cost of the cloth,” says Mercer.

Their rolled collars makes them worth every penny. The button-down collars are unlined, and the straight collars are only lightly lined and unfused. So they’re ideally suited for both dress and casual wear. And, they are distinctive.

“When you look at somebody, it’s the collar that’s the first thing you see,” he says.

Besides, they fit well and adapt to the individual. “They’re comfortable,” he says. “Making a good collar is really an art, not a science – it’s not like a shirt made by an engineer. It has character.”

Their cloth is cut with scissors, not computers. And once the measurements are taken, they require some patience. Depending on the choice of cloth and collar, it might take three weeks. If the timing’s bad, it’ll be six to seven – but most take four to five.

“Most of our customers understand,” he says. “Ten years later, when they have to order again, they’ve forgotten how long it took.”

You read that right: he said ten years later.

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