Of late Fashionising.com has been looking at having the key elements
of a gent’s wardrobe custom produced, and as such I’ve been reviewing made to measure shirt
manufacturers. Having something custom produced is, however, quite
different from the regular shopping experience. Regular shopping is
dominated by impulse and desire. Bespoke and made-to-measure pieces are
all about creating garments that serve a purpose; each manufacturer
often being better at creating a particular style of garment than they
are at others.
Having already looked at creating the perfect, custom white shirt,
I accordingly turned my attention to creating something else that is
quite elusive: the perfect travel shirt. Despite the fact that millions
of shirts make it to thirty-thousand feet each day, actually finding a
shirt that is easy to travel with and doesn’t come off as looking solely
corporate is still no easy task. The average men’s shirt often creases
too much, and when you’re travelling on a tight schedule you don’t
always have the time to send your shirts off to be pressed by room
service. Thus comes the need to create a shirt which is travel friendly
but doesn’t attract the ghastly ‘iron free’ label.
For a made to measure shirt that I can take with me on my next overseas jaunt, I turned to Nialma.
Nialma are an Australia-based company who produce
and ship their shirts from the city that is one of the last bastions of
tailoring: Hong Kong. While by no means unique, Nialma do have something
of a rare product offering: they cater to both men and women.
What is certainly unique, however, is just how adept Nialma at the
art of selling shirts online. When all is said and done, the one thing
that is likely to prevent any online shirt manufacturer from selling
their goods it that we as customers don’t have a an accurate enough
gauge of the shirt’s fit or quality. Thus we’re hesitant about placing
our first order. Nialma have turned this problem on its head with a long
term special offer that, if it’s still running at the time that you
read this piece, you should certainly consider: they’ll send you your
first shirt for free. Problem solved.
Aside from breaking down the mental barrier that lies between
fantasising about a custom made wardrobe and actually purchasing it,
Nialma have a massive offering that you could spend days of your life
reviewing. While a great many of the other shirt manufacturers seem to
pigeon hole themselves into a particular style (often with corporate
overtones) Nialma have no less than 294 fabrics that you can choose
from. 294 – that figure guarantees that you can pretty design whatever
shirt you want, be it the sharp or the ridiculous. Thankfully their
ordering process allows you to refine the details enough that you can
quickly break that figure down into something manageable, and browse
fabrics by colour, pattern, weight and price with ease.
Away from the fabric Nialma’s other options aren’t as excessive;
their 9 collar and 9 cuff styles are certainly desirable and some of the
better ones on the market, though their button options are a little
light on the ground.
Nialma’s shirts start at the $89 mark.
Reviewing the shirt I ordered
Shirt ordered and what I considered
As I said in the introduction, from Nialma I was looking for the
perfect shirt to accompany me on my travels. That meant having a clear
idea of what I needed in a travel shirt even before I sat down and
reviewed Nialma’s fabric offerings. I settled on a shirt with blue
tones. Blue tones will take a chap from day to evening. While a blue
shirt won’t work with a black suit, provided its tonality is right it’ll
certainly work with grey and navy suits. They’ll also work with smart
denim, which makes a blue shirt something of an all rounder for
What else did I decide made a shirt perfect for travelling with? The
right cloth, one that is both light-weight and durable – after all, the
shirt has to keep up with my pace and roll with the knocks it’s going to
endure in the course of travel. I also came to the conclusion that the
perfect shirt for travelling is one devoid of a French cuff – as much as
I love a French cuff and tend to solely wear shirts that sport them,
I’m also forever forgetting to pack cufflinks with me when I travel.
Thus from Nialma I opted for a dark blue and white houndstooth shirt
with barrel cuffs and contrast stitching. I personalised the shirt with
thin, shell buttons, and finished it off with side pleats and rear darts
for an extra slim fit.
The ordering process
While their checkout process won’t give you a great visual indication
of what you’re ordering (hint: it’s a shirt), you won’t click away from
Nialma’s site without a very good idea. The gem for me here is the
ability to select a fabric according to any number of specifications,
and should you shop with Nialma I’d implore that you make great use of
this option. When it comes to selecting a fabric here are the things you
should definitely know and consider:
- Nialma offer three ranges of cloth: Classic, Premium and Black
Label. The classic offers a cotton from Japan, the premium offers a
cotton sourced from Italy, while the black label range offers cottons
from British brand Thomas Mason. I went with the latter, not because I
fear that the former are bad or average, but because I know that Thomas
Mason produce great cloth. That’s what they do, and for a long time
they’ve been a brand you can trust.
- You have the choice of cotton and linen: linen is great for humid
countries and summer months. Somewhat rare on the streets, I certainly
favour it when the mercury pushes past 100 degrees fahrenheit.
- You can filter the cloths by thread count and thickness, which
aren’t necessarily the same thing. So be certain to pick a weight and
thread count that suits the season and the reason for the shirt.
Personally I opted for a 100 thread count and a medium weight – such
measurements will take me through all seasons.
Elsewhere in the ordering process you’ll find that Nialma offer you a
standard array of customisations. Only one piece of advice is necessary
here: ensure that you upgrade to shell buttons – don’t cheapen the look
of a custom made shirt by picking average looking buttons.
The shirt itself
As I did with all made to measure shirts I’m reviewing, I based the
measurements of the Nialma shirt upon my favourite Tom Ford shirt. And
from the measurements I gave them to the shirt I received I certainly
can’t fault what Nialma have delivered. If anything, it doesn’t feel as
taught as the Tom Ford shirt but from a quick comparative measurement
that seems to have more to do with the differences of the fabrics used:
Nialma’s certainly feels far less rigid.
What I’d do different next time
I’d do one thing differently next time: I’d order the thick, shell
buttons over the thin, shell ones. While there’s nothing particularly
wrong with the thin buttons, they’re too fine for my personal taste.
What you should consider before buying
Have a clear understanding of what kind of shirt you want or browse
Nialma’s existing styles for inspiration – without doing this I fear you
might have trouble navigating your way with the multitude of fabric
colours and patterns on offer.
The all important question
The all important question: would I’d opt to shop with Nialma again? I
certainly would. The fit I was after along with such a wide fabric
selection means that I wouldn’t having a problem doing so.