The made-to-measure shirt, by Hermès
Thirteen measuring points, 14 collar designs, 13 cuff designs, five pocket designs… The Hermès made-to-measure shirt spans a palette of 300 hundred exclusive fabrics pre-designed in the studio. There are hand-made embroideries and buttonholes, with the option of choosing the typography, the size of the letters, the color of the threads, shaded or unshaded letters, and, of course, the placement. “Many of our customers ask for a larger wrist on one side (to hide their watch or to protect it…),” says Mireille Leroux, director of the Hermès Homme custom studio. The Hermès hand knows how to “adjust its gesture according to the material.” It is a regular, precise gesture, like a choreography: “There is no tension, silk would be considered too supple, and if you tighten the thread too much, the buttonhole won’t be regular. On poplin, twill, the hand is more “tailored”, the process is flexible. The role of the studio begins. The pattern is in kraft paper at first. It will be stored in archives to follow the evolution of the customer, everything is referenced, as in a library and the fabrics are kept five years to replace identically the collars or cuffs considered as “tired”. First-time orders take between a week and ten days for the fabric to be sent back to the store and to be tried on; then six to eight weeks to be made. The realisation of a shirt varies between 12 and 18 hours for a cotton shirt model, with a musketeer cuff requiring additional buttonholes. Five 90-cm silk squares are needed to make a shirt.
Leroux continues, “These require more time, as it is necessary to work on the placement – sometimes proposing several – to find the form of the square through the shirt. The topstitching must be transparent, and the thread change is done stitch by stitch. We stop at the intersection of the colour. There is a lot of hand stitching, the collars are folded by hand, as well as the armhole so that it follows the movement of the arm, these are the ‘selfish’ details mentioned by artistic director of the men’s wear, Véronique Nichanian. The craftsmen embroider the buttonholes, the gesture is rooted in them. We are expanding our teams to meet the increasing demand.”