Customer satisfaction is at the heart of the customer service experience in any industry. Now, what do you get when you have a style conscious gentleman, an old world bespoke suit and shirt tailor, and a glaring gap in the market? You get none other than Louis ii Shirt Maker. This is a partnership between two gentlemen that goes back many years. In days gone by the founder of Louis ii Shirts, David Elton, was still a client of bespoke suit and shirt maker Louis Gwatkin. When Gwatkin retired from the bespoke tailoring business, David lost touch with the old man because he had 'disappeared'.
This was pretty much the genesis of Louis ii because David didn't have a trusted shirt maker anymore and the Jermyn Street merchants he purchased from while living in London had become too expensive, owing to the currency rate. Long story short; David decided to track down Gwatkin, and when he eventually found him, in Cape Town, he propositioned him about starting a shirt making business. His initial advances were declined, however, a little while later Gwatkin agreed and thus Louis ii Shirt Maker was born. Not long ago I was offered a shirt for review by the company and after scrutinising their website, I came to an agonising decision and settled on the Sky Blue Striped shirt.
I can honestly say that this is probably the best shirt I have. Simply because all my shirts are off-the-rack. With Louis ii Shirts you get a combination of bespoke and made to measure. You choose a shirt that you like (they offer a range of patterns and styles), choose a cuff style (single or double cuff) and then input your neck size. Through some email interaction I was also able to send them my sleeve length as well, so that the whole shirt making process would be complete before the start. The neck size that I chose was 39cm. I have been doing a lot of road running, just 10-12km, and I have burned some fat and lost some weight. So the neck size wasn't just a gamble or estimate because I knew that anything higher would be an ill-fit. I was slightly apprehensive when the shirt arrived (in a beautiful rectangular box replete with a thank you note, product description and David's business card), because I anticipated a problem with the sleeve length. Well, the above picture shows everything about this shirt and as you can see there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I was aghast at the sleeve length and how it came out.
The sleeves hit just at the base of the thumb and this allows for the proverbial two inches of cuff to show under a jacket. It is a placket front and also features a red square tag which is a Louis ii Shirts trademark.
This shirt has a few peculiar features which harken back to the old world of tailoring. It's also the right fit through the body especially from the chest to the hips; there is absolutely no unnecessary extra material and bagginess. The features I am talking about are the fuller/ classic fit and the extra long tail. There is a reason why the tail is this long; it's because it's meant to be tucked at all times. If you start wearing it out then you'll start looking like you're wearing a sleep shirt. Now how's that for harkening back to the old days? The extra long tail is a practical and relevant feature because it's meant to keep the shirt tucked in regardless of any kinds of movement.
More features of the old school are the chest pocket, this means that the Louis ii Shirts company still believe in men's clothes being practical. A two button cuff ensures that the fit around the wrist can accommodate those who like wearing watches or have slim wrists. Another quality mark of good handwork on a garment is the pattern. This is an awning stripe shirt, and when you look closely at the detail on the breast pocket you can see that not a single stripe is out of line. That's the mark of a quality shirt. This means that the company takes times and effort in the construction of their shirts. Everyone plays a pivotal role, the head cutter and seamstresses, in the process.
I just had to try it with a tie and I experimented with two different knots. The orange tie was a four-in-hand knot, which I think came out okay. If only I had pushed the knot more into the point spread. The knot on the right is a half-windsor. Long time readers of this blog will know that I am not fond of this knot but over time and considering its usefulness, I have slowly gravitated towards it. I think the half-windsor is better suited to the shirt and the collar style. The collar is full spread and this allows for the shirt to be worn with an open neck under a jacket as well.
A close-up of the fit throughout the upper body and how the neck-tie knots compare. The shirt is made of two-fold long staple Egyptian cotton and finished with Mother of pearl buttons. There are removable collar stays and I was also wonderfully surprised by another pair of Mother of pearl collar stays. For me, this is a solid garment which would complement any style conscious gent who is given to quality. This is a proudly South African garment I am very proud of and will enjoy wearing.
This shirt retails at R2300 including VAT and it is a product I would definitely spend on given the variety of styles and patterns on offer. The Louis ii Shirts company will definitely find a home in many gentlemen's closets simply because of their dedication to quality and expert handwork. As a temporary measure these shirts are available only in South Africa.
PG: Man to man, generation to generation.