Welcome to Volume 1 of the Battle Royale of the American-Made Shirt. The idea behind this article started with a simple purchasing conundrum; there are plenty of great brands out there and with a few parameters set forth, how can we really narrow down what shirt is the best for our needs as a consumer? Our rules were simple:

  1. We wanted a shirt that would appeal to the masses, though showcased each company’s best effort, that fit the average cut guy very well.
  2. The shirt had to be made in the United States of America.
  3. If it could be helped, the shirt had to be under $200.00

After doing research, this proved to be far more difficult than we had anticipated. When it comes down to it, many brands aren’t familiar with the origins of their fabric or didn’t make the shirts themselves. Most of our favorites – the really distinctive patterns – were typically beyond the allotted price point. You will see that we did make a few exceptions along the way but stayed true to these rules for the most part. Most of the brands were quick to point out that in differentiating between most labels with the exception of a very select few American makers, all shirts are essentially the same. The variables are in the fabric and the cut with only slight variation in construction seen across the board. Once you’ve seen one shirt, you’ve seen most of them; or so it seemed.

We have taken the approach to looking at these shirts as someone who puts average wear on clothing with occasional days working in the field on creative projects and more frequent days sitting behind a desk. We tested all of these shirts and combined our opinions with those of the fit models who wore them for the photo shoots. The first brands we will review are Taylor Stitch from San Francisco, CA. and Rogue Territory from Los Angeles, CA., hence the Californian imagery in our masthead. Click below to view the full article and photos.

Taylor Stitch

383 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA. 94103
Contact: Michael Maher, co-founder of Taylor Stitch

From Taylor Stitch

“We started the whole company because we thought most all shopping experiences for men were terrible and we couldn’t find shirts that fit. We studied traditional shirt making under the tutelage of the Gambert’s in Newark, NJ. They still make all of our custom tailored shirts and have been doing such things for 3 generations; over 85 years in fact.

The standard Taylor Stitch fit was developed by chest because we thought the body of the shirt was the most crucial point that needed to fit. We took a large amount of measurements from our customers for the tailored shirts and averaged those out and made small tweaks to truly develop a fit we loved. There have since been many small iterations and tweaks to the point where we are completely happy with the fit of ours shirts. The shirts are also cut and sewn the traditional way a shirt should be. Single needle construction with French seams and everything is hand turned.

Now onto the Utility Shirt. We wanted something sewn just as nice as our fine shirting in a rugged manner. We turned to our denim maker to do this for us. Taking lighter weight denims and canvas we started triple needle chain stitching these shirts to give them the feel of old work shirts. We then added our same denim hardware to line the design up directly with our denim and finished them with our leather interior label.”

Our review

Taylor Stitch sent us a 7.5 oz. black Cone Mills denim shirt (the Utility Shirt mentioned above) to review. This shirt, though lightweight on the denim spectrum, is quite a hefty specimen. While you absolutely could get away with wearing this shirt by itself, I don’t think I’d be able to tolerate it without having something under it. The fabric itself is quite soft and has a dark, almost grey-looking weft to it that really makes the shirt stand out against the all-metal hardware. It’s held together at the seams using  triple needle stitching: impressive craftsmanship to say the least.

Fabric: This is a really nice non-selvedge black denim. It’s not going to bleed like unwashed indigo and is fairly soft overall. It weighs 7.5 oz so is nearly half the weight of many of Cone’s denims used for jeans. The fabric itself has a very even tone to it that almost shines under the right type of light. If you’re looking for a classic or “heritage” look to your fabric, this probably isn’t it. It’s the type of material I’d be thrilled to see blanket-lined for a jacket eventually or beefed up to really turn this thing into something hefty.

Fit: The shirt fits a little boxy. That lends itself to being worn as an overshirt or even a light jacket if layered properly. If you like a fuller fit (or as I’ve seen it called recently, “workwear fit”), you’ll be all about this shirt. It’s tapered enough so that you’re not going to look like you weigh 30 lbs more than you actually do but generous enough to let you breathe while you’re theoretically putting in some manual labor (desk jockeys, you know what I’m talkin’ bout).

Construction: This is a very durable shirt. Probably more durable than it needs to be. I can only imagine that the average consumer who purchases from Taylor Stitch doesn’t need a shirt that’s triple stitched across the shoulders; one who does will probably spring for something a little more disposable. I would be more concerned about the fabric falling apart from too many washes (not saying it isn’t durable stuff) than I would the craftsmanship of this shirt failing before you’re through with it. This shirt features all metal hardware. This was an extraordinarily impressive point for me as I inevitably have bad luck with cheap plastic buttons. They knocked it out of the park with holding this thing together in every way. You will not be disappointed.

Taylor Stitch sent us a second shirt (their white standard Oxford) to be reviewed as well. This thing is pretty solid, we dig the fabric – it’s very soft – and it has quite a bit of weight to it which makes it even better. When it comes to oxfords, the main ingredient that we look for (or really lack thereof) is to be NOT non-iron. The chemically treated non-iron shirt is an attempt at introducing controlled perfection to something that was never meant to be perfect anyway. This shirt is NOT non-iron so we’re already paying more attention. The shirt fits well across the chest and in the arms, though stops a little shorter than we’re typically used to. One detail that really perplexed our models (and us when we really thought about it) was the location of the bottom grey button. I like details such as the one-off colored button but this one was so low to the bottom hem of the shirt that our models struggled to tuck it in. It was a solid inch to inch and a half lower than the average location on most shirts.

Overall we really like Taylor Stitch’s offering. If I were shopping for a basic oxford, while theirs is very nice, I’d go to another company first. If I were shopping for a uniquely printed shirt or something with an interesting pattern to it, this is the first place I’d come. Their offering in the “Jack shirt” line is astounding including patterns with dots, anchors, stars, waves, and more. All of their indigo shirts and utility shirts are amazing as well. They’ve also expanded into the denim, neckwear, timepiece, and footwear departments as well. Certainly check out all they have to offer on their website.

Rogue Territory

Los Angeles, CA
Contact: Karl Thoennessen, owner of Rogue Territory

From Rogue Territory

“Fabric: Striped Oxford made in USA 6oz 100% cotton. Slim fit. Design specs: left chest pocket, button down collar, scoop front (great for tucking in), double needle patch placket, faux pearl buttons, all french seams.”

Our Review

The Rogue Territory shirt was an interesting one to say the least. The fabric’s a slightly yellowed/faded green and white striped oxford cloth that’s lighter weight than the denim one we showcased from Taylor Stitch but heavier than their oxford. This thing feels like it could stand the test of time and maintain it’s integrity along the way. I really dug just how gritty it felt. It’s kind of like when you air dry your clothes on a line and it has that untreated feel to it except this thing’s brand new and is already full of all kinds of character. There’s a lot of interesting points pertaining to construction and fit we’d like to highlight below.

Fabric: As stated above, this is a faded green and white striped 6oz Oxford cloth that feels quite a bit heavier than it’s listing would let on. It’s not itchy but it’s certainly not nearly as soft as other oxfords we’ve tested. If you have sensitive skin or don’t like a crisper, heavier feel to your shirts, this isn’t the one for you. I particularly enjoyed the uniqueness of the fabric and thought the faded nature of the stripe really made it a versatile shirt. You can dress it up and be the only one in the room with a shirt like it or dress it down without looking like you’re wearing your Dad’s oxford from college.

Fit: This thing is definitely slim fit. Our model said he loved how it fit through the chest and the lower part of the body but the armpits were something he fixated on. He’s a slim guy and really had trouble getting his arms into the sleeves because of how tight the armhole was. He found this also limited his range of motion when he was doing simple tasks like putting a bag on his shoulder or putting on his seatbelt in the car. It has a really interesting cut at the bottom thats sort of clubbed rather than squared at the end of the placket (the line of buttons) like most shirts. The curve made it a little easier to tuck in and keep that way without feeling like there was a ton of extra fabric in the front.

Construction: It’s a well made shirt, there’s no doubting it. The double needle stitch on the placket, around the collar, and on the cuffs really makes this feel durable and for once the fabric matches the construction in feeling rather than overcompensating in one or the other. The only complaint we really had in construction was the tag which was itchy if worn without an undershirt.

This was a peculiarly killer oxford. I wouldn’t call this thing “standard” by any means, like I said this ain’t yo’ Daddy’s oxford, but the timelessness of the pattern will help it stand for seasons to come. You won’t find this fabric anywhere else and if you’re already familiar with Karl’s great work in the denim department, you’ll understand the mindset of craftsmanship and detail that’s brought over to the shirting line as well.

Between these three shirts, we found Rogue Territory’s oxford to be the overall best choice for everyday wear. The combination of more tailored fit and the distinctiveness of the fabric really caught hold of our favor. For overall diversity in the offering of their line and for a better colder weather offering, Taylor Stitch is the clear winner. The sheer number of fantastic looking, unique prints they offer both in-store and online is incredible. Round 1 is a draw, it seems. While Rogue Territory wins in the Oxford department (their only offering against Taylor Stitch’s second shirt), Taylor Stitch wins with product diversity.

You can find the oxford shirt lent to us by Rogue Territory here.

You can find the Oxford shirt lent to us by Taylor Stitch here.

You can find the denim shirt lent to us by Taylor Stitch here.

The series continues as we look at Lumina Clothing Co., Brooks Brothers, Hamilton 1883, New England Shirt Co., and more. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.