In The Know: Stephan Haroutunian Shirts
Wednesday 22 October 2008
I’ve been chomping at the bit to tell you about this find. But I first had to wait the 5 weeks for my shirt to be made, and of course I buggered off to New Zealand for 3 weeks. Now I’m back and have the shirt, which turned out perfectly, I can spill the beans.
Just The Facts
Stephan Haroutunian Shirts
A proper independent shirt maker providing men’s made-to-measure and off the peg shirts as well as underwear and nightwear. Shirts, boxer shorts and nightwear are all made by the family’s own workshop.
Who you’ll meet:
Stephan Haroutunian (owner)
Made-to-Measure Shirts £69-79 (cloth dependent), off the beg shirts £39, Boxer shorts made from stocked shirting fabrics, made-to-measure and off the peg men’s nightwear.
95 Moore Park Road, Fulham, London, SW6 2DA
10:30-6pm Tuesday to Friday and 9:30-6pm Saturday. Closed on Sunday’s and Monday’s.
So, why the excitement? Put simply, £69 for an Egyptian, two-fold cotton, made-to-measure shirt, no minimum order, and beautifully made to boot. That combination puts good quality personal tailoring within almost everybody’s reach, and that is something very rare, and something to shout about. Ironically, therein lies something of a sticking point.
The owner of the shop, Stephen, is a friendly professional gentleman in, I guess, his mid to late 50’s and is understandably proud of his business. Conversely, for reasons I couldn’t quite fathom, Stephan is extremely publicity shy. I asked if he would like to do a full interview for one of our reviews, but he declined. So telling you about it I find myself in something of a quandary, but on sober reflection, I thought, sod it.
My guess as to his reluctance is that he has enough work and a loyal customer base, and therefore likes his relative anonymity. The details are therefore based on my experience and those I could gleam from our telephone conversation beforehand.
Quite simply this is a proper old fashioned shirt maker providing a good quality product and charging a reasonable price for it. The shop itself is as discreet and reassuringly old fashioned as its owner. There is nothing flashy about the decor, in fact it with the dark blue shag pile carpet under foot I almost felt like I was stepping into somebody’s living room; no fuss, no gleaming chrome or glass shelving, no superfluous frippery or grandstanding, and no snooty shop assistants. The shop even has a wonderfully old fashioned attitude to business, closing on Sunday’s and Monday’s. In short it is a very comfortable experience, which is hard to describe it just somehow feels right.
Not only does Stephan have the made-to-measure side of the business, but he also stocks a large array of off the peg shirts, complimentary ties, pyjamas, socks and boxer shorts. All bar the ties and socks are made in Stephan’s family owned and run factory in Cyprus. This in part accounts for the competitive price.
In fact the Cyprus connection is how Stephan ended up in London. Originating from Cyprus his father had a small shirt making business on the island. Officers of British regiments garrisoned there, or in transit, were amongst their first cliental. When the regiments stopped passing through, Stephan came to London and opened the current shop. His original clients beat a path to his door, and by word of mouth business has continued thereafter. The family still own and run the shirt making factory in Cyprus and that’s where both the made-to-measure and off the peg shirts are made. His cliental is something he was particularly proud of, it includes officers from some of Britain’s oldest and most prestigious regiments, a list of which is pinned to the wall by the till.
My made-to-measure shirt cost £69 (standard price) and the off the peg one £39. I confess he was having a sale at the time so I’m not sure that’s the normal price for off the peg, but the differential would be about right, so it’s a sound enough guide. Regardless, there were some very good deals at the time for multiple purchases, i.e. 4 for £100, 3 for £79 and 2 for £60 (off the peg). The boxer shorts were 4 pairs for £20, and many are made from the same fabrics as the shirts.
And the price doesn’t mean you have to skimp on anything. Stephan described his service as made-to-measure and not bespoke because he doesn’t do multiple fittings. But unlike other made-to-measure offerings from the more commercial names he isn’t just sticking different collar sizes onto basic body shapes. The collars and cuff are individually made to your specific requirements. These are always the most important details, from my perspective, as I like deep collars and high neckbands, as well as a cocktail cuffs. More expensive shirt makers have rarely been able to satisfy me on that score. Likewise you are consulted as to how you like the body shape so a nip and tuck here and there seemed no problem. You can get pretty much whatever your heart desired. Normally collars and cuffs are unfused, but he will do a fused collar and cuff if you ask. My recommendation would be to stick with the unfused collar as they are made so well as to be substantial enough to sit well on you neck while being wonderfully soft and comfortable.
He carried a very good range of swatches in two fabric ranges, one costing £69 and the other £79. There are no hidden charges for extra design details. The only additional charge you may face is £8 to cover the cost of additional cloth should you be a very large size. The make time is roughly five to six weeks.
Just a note of caution, if you’re contemplating making that move from off the peg to made-to measure, it is a fact of life that the first of any made-to-measure or bespoke product is never going to be absolutely perfect. The reasons are when you think about it understandable. You will essentially have two men encountering each other for the first time, one trying to describe to the other, usually in imprecise language, what he wants, and other trying within the realms of possibility to comprehend him and make it happen. My shirt had just a little bit more cloth around the waist than I normally go for, but apart from that it was exactly what I envisioned. Now I have that template the rest, and there will be many more, will be perfect.
And there you have it. Just don’t tell him who sent you. Enough said....
Posted by Stealth