• New England Shirt Company Factory

    Miscellany  

    Bob Kidder believes in American manufacturing. So much so that when it came time to put his money where his mouth is, he actually bought a shirt factory—the famed former Alden Street Shelburne Shirt factory to be exact. Although the 200 year-old mill has been caught in the crossfire of multiple custody battles, it has remained in continuous operation for the last 75 years. Kidder, no stranger to menswear with stints at high-end brands like Hart Schaffner Marx, bought it in 2009 when its future was anything but certain. Now he, along with a group of skilled, dedicated craftspeople using vintage sewing machines, nurture a healthy private label business under the appellation New England Shirt Company. “It’s all single needle shirting,” says Kidder. “A slightly modern version of classic American style—it’s not fussy.”

    In addition to their own label, Kidder and company manufacture for upwards of 150 men’s labels and click n’ mortar shops in the U.S., Jack Robie being one of them. I had the pleasure of designing two popovers for Jack Robie this summer—a blue oxford cloth and red bengal stripe poplin. I trekked up to Fall River, Massachusetts last spring to put the final brushstrokes on them. Both turned out beautifully and can be had at the One Orange pop-up shop on Nantucket as well as at JackRobie.com.

    Jun 5, 2013 | Permalink (12) Total Comments

    Brooks Borthers left a comment on 10/14/2013 at 10:32 AM:

    I afarted mommy


    Alex left a comment on 6/18/2013 at 5:44 PM:

    Wharf makes has their shirts made here if I am not mistaken, and they are very nice. I have not found a better Oxford considering the brands mentioned above.


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/15/2013 at 1:12 PM:

    @Cam—I’d be surprised if J.Press York St. or Gant were making shirts in the USA at this point.


    Timothy left a comment on 6/15/2013 at 10:53 AM:

    @F.E. & CL—My comment re: Gitman Bros. shirts was just one part of my more general statements. That said, Gitman, like most makers these days, produces a range of fits….from slim to Big and Tall - so, I’m sure with a little trial and error (which is required with any maker), the desired fit can be found.


    cam left a comment on 6/14/2013 at 6:39 PM:

    fwiw, j press york st and gant have some ocbds on sale currently for under $100. although i couldn’t find any information on these being made in america. do you happen to know mr. castleberry?


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/14/2013 at 6:27 PM:

    @Cam—Good find!


    cam left a comment on 6/14/2013 at 6:08 PM:

    mr. castleberry, they are on their web-site for purchase http://www.brooksbrothers.com/Classic-All-Cotton-Regular-Fit-Oxford-Dress-Shirt/E482,default,pd.html?dwvar_E482_Color=BLUE&contentpos=11&cgid;=


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/14/2013 at 3:05 PM:

    @Cam—I’d need to see proof of this claim.

    @Timothy—Gitman Brothers shirts can be purchased from SierraTradingPost.com as you have shared. I would argue that spending over $100 on a Made in America shirt is not always “needlessly overpaying.” There is a point of view in design. Some resonate with some more than others. Not once did you mention how Gitman Brothers shirts fit—and that’s an important factor for a young gentleman like C.L. Young.


    cam left a comment on 6/14/2013 at 2:33 PM:

    @CL Young - i’m not sure what you would consider “well under” the $100 mark but i do believe brooks brothers offers an ocbd for around $70 or $80 that is made in america.


    Timothy left a comment on 6/14/2013 at 2:17 PM:

    @CL - yes, made in the USA shirts can certainly be had for less than many retailers sell them for. Even among New England Shirt Co. shirts there is a wide price range. Fred/Jack Robie charge around $135 for theirs, while L.L. Bean charges $105 for theirs. I’ve bought a couple solid NESCo. oxfords for $90 from Portland Dry Goods in Maine. Gitman Bros. made in the USA oxfords can be had for under $60 at places like sierratradingpost.com. And so on. Part of it is marketing and profit taking, part of it is a lack of education from the consumer’s standpoint. Folks need to shop around and resist the trumped up romance of needlessly overpaying simply because of the made in the usa tagline…


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/14/2013 at 12:23 PM:

    @C.L. Young—You raise a good question. A “Made in America” shirt can certainly be produced for well under $100…it’s being done now! Of course, by “produced” I mean manufactured. Now, can a “Made in America” shirt retail for under $100? Possibly. That business would have to sell a high volume of shirts (hundreds a month) from an online shop (in order to minimize overhead and fixed costs). Even then, the quality of the shirt could suffer by using cheaper cloth, cheaper buttons, fewer details, etc. By then, who would actually care that it was made in America…the shirt itself wouldn’t be something you’d be proud to wear (and I certainly wouldn’t be proud to make it).


    C.L. Young left a comment on 6/13/2013 at 6:29 PM:

    This is a great feature! Although I embrace “American-made”, it doesn’t always embrace my pocket book in a more affordable way. But in saying this, I realize that products typically run the gamut of econo, standard, and top of the line. These shirts are excellently made (I can tell).
    Frankly, it would be nice if one can have excellent quality of workmanship and materials in something mundane as a button-down without spending the amount that a custom-made shirt might cost.
    I understand the dynamics of factoring in cost of labor, materials, workmanship, etc. but can an “American-made” shirt be produced for well under the $100 mark?


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