Hamilton, America's oldest custom shirt maker, is now offering up the world's softest shirts in their Platinum Collection with Thomas Mason, the venerable (formerly British, now Italian) fabric maker. We're talking 2-ply yarn with an unheard of yarn count of up to 300 (yarn count is based on the length and thickness of the thread, not like the "thread count" per-inch measure associated with sheets). You just pick your fabric from the book and then Hamilton dispatches your order off to Italy where the Thomas Mason folks cut just enough for you and send it back to Houston where all the Hamilton shirts have been made since 1883. You can go full Bespoke or opt for the slightly more simple made-to-measure.
I met with the newest generation (the fourth) of shirt-making Hamiltons at Barneys last week to see the fabrics and hear the story. Kelly and her brother David took over the family business a couple years ago. They never felt pressure to grow up and make shirts. "In fact, it was just the opposite," Kelly said. David started at Lehman, ("It wasn't my fault," he said); Kelly started recruiting for oil and gas and then worked in development for the Houston Ballet. But they eventually came back to 5700 Richmond Ave., the company's HQ for the last 31 years.
(Above: The original Hamilton Factory on Main Street near the landmark Rice Building in 1883).
Hamilton customers come in all forms, they said. Simon Doonan from Barneys wears nothing else. Big Texas ranchers often order theirs Western-style. New Yorkers even order black. "In Connecticut, it's all blue and white," David said. As expected, the Southerners are more colorful.
(Above: The pattern library)
I've gone all Connecticut and ordered a classic blue and white stripe with two buttons at the neck (for extra popping height) and an HHH monogram on the right cuff. Am practically shaking in anticipation! Given that my men's shirt collection comes from years of trawling thrift stores for old Thomas Pink, Brooks Brothers and Polo at around $3.50 a pop, this is a tremendous leap forward.
...storefront, early 1900s...
...a fabric assortment.