"The original idea was pretty simple," recalls founder Seph Skerritt. "Use the internet to make it easy for men to buy perfect fitting dress shirts." Proper Cloth. We caught up with Skerritt to learn more about the custom brand.Of course, there are a lot of sites these days that let you make a made-to-order shirt, but few brands do it with the precise execution and sense of modern style as
Take us back to the beginning ...
It was a humble start. We didn't have any background in fashion or industry connections. We didn't have much financial backing. But we found a small shirt factory in North Carolina that agreed to make shirts for us and in the fall of '08 we launched a first version of the site that enabled customers to design and order custom fit dress shirts.
We weren't an over-night success, but we stayed focused and listened to our customers to continually improve on what we do. For example, in 2010, we introduced a new size method called "Smart Sizes," that can create your first custom shirt size based on your responses to 12 simple questions about your body and how you like your shirts to fit. With continued optimization, Smart Size's algorithms have become incredibly accurate and our customer's are continually shocked with how perfect their shirts fit when they use this size method. Perfect fit is very important to us, which is why we're more than happy to complimentarily alter or remake a clients first shirt to get the fit as dialed in as possible.
And now you've got a house collection as well as the custom program.
Exactly. In 2012, we started developing our own designs and put them into collections. We're increasingly showing our own sense of style with our collections. Last year, we opened our first showroom in New York, where we've been able to show off our collections as well as help clients get their custom sizes setup in person.
Any plans to go beyond shirting?
Yeah, we recently expanded our product line to include some accessories like beautiful handmade silk ties from Italy that are really incredible. Eventually, we'd like to expand into a full menswear designer line, but we're not rushing into anything too fast. We want to make sure that we maintain the same level of high quality products and customer service that our clients have come to expect.
Our style is classic American with Italian sensibilities. We love spread and cutaway collars, and have become known for our soft unfused versions. We like to keep things simple and understated as much as possible. We don't chase trends or rely on gimmicks. We're much more interested in high quality, carefully selected materials and a perfect custom fit.
The number of individual fabrics on offer for shirting, including many from renowned Italian mills Thomas Mason, Albini and Canclini.
How would you describe the Proper Cloth man?
Our guy appreciates how he looks and how his clothes fit and realizes that off-the-rack shirts are always going to result in an unnecessary compromise. He's generally a professional of some kind, a bit tech savvy and he appreciates the value of having a quality product. He's not interested in driving around town trying to find something that fits him OK off-the-rack and really appreciates the convenience of having his custom shirt size saved so that he can easily order shirts in whatever style he wants and be certain they will fit perfectly.