"Most men live their lives in shirts that don't really fit them - too tight in some places and too big in others", says Liz Tahawi, Piedmont resident and mother of three. "When I learned about J.Hilburn and their business model - offering Zegna quality shirts at a J. Crew price - I was immediately sold on the concept." Liz feels that Bay Area innovation and entrepreneurship goes beyond just tech and she is ready to bring this new twist on men's retail to Piedmont.
It came as no surprise, that Chad Olcott of Mulberry’s was an early adopter of this new way of shopping. Chad says “I went crazy at first. I loved the idea and the clothes. I’ve even bought a tux!” Other Piedmont guys were curious and open to trying this new, modern version of the old idea of custom clothes. “Liz took my measurements. Then she showed me the fabrics, and I got to choose what I liked best. I picked collars, cuffs, even the color of the thread,” said client Andy Filler. The initial meeting with a client involves measuring and selecting. Three weeks later, the customer’s shirt arrives. Liz delivers the first shirt--or suit and trousers--in order to ensure fit and satisfaction. “It’s easy and, ultimately, saves me time and money,” added client Dinsh Guzdar. “I put in an order, forget about it and then a couple of weeks later, perfect-fitting shirts arrive for a great price.”
All fabrics are sourced in the Biella region of Italy, famous for its mills. Master tailors are employed: suits are sewn in Portugal, shirts in Hong Kong and Malaysia. Liz also noted “Our company leadership visits every tailor. These craftspeople are paid a true living wage and it’s one shirt, created for you - not a boat-load mass-produced in a factory that then go sit in a retail store. I know it’s just shirts, but in a small way, this business helps reduce overall consumption by replacing it with customer-initiated quality.”
The company is based in Dallas, TX and can still be considered a start-up from its 2007 beginnings. It was challenging at first and the prestigious Italian mill owners, Guabello, Thomas Mason, Vitale Barberis, some of whom have been in business since the 1600s, barely gave the J.Hilburn founder a second glance. “Now, the Italian guys fly a team to Dallas. We are the number one customer shirtmaker in the world,” says Liz. "Guys are smart - why pay $250+ for a custom Italian shirt when you can design your own for as little as $99."
“I also appreciated this opportunity, as I am able to run my own business,” Liz shared. “And, importantly, I love the clothes. Every time a new piece is designed, it’s like giving a guy a special gift.” Once the shirt, or suit fit--and the company guarantees they will, or they fix it or you get your money back--men can order as they please, knowing the clothes are going to fit perfectly and be exactly how they like them. “Guys never need step foot in a department store or try anything on again.” Liz says. “It’s also easier for partners and wives to choose a gift, knowing it’s going to fit.”
“Nobody thinks twice about James Bond wearing beautifully crafted, well-fitting suits. It’s part of being a gentleman and a grown-up,“ Liz says. “No matter what you do for a living, you should have a go-to jacket and a few shirts that actually fit. You’re going to look great and it’s a like losing an extra ten pounds without trying.”
Maybe it’s time for Piedmont guys to go through their closets and drop off their baggy Gap shirts at Dressed Best for Less and give a new idea a try. Liz Tahawi certainly hopes they will.
(10% of all November trunk show proceeds will be donated to Piedmont’s Education foundation. For more information, visit http://liztahawi.jhilburn.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org)