If you are looking for good quality menswear on the internet, in particular men’s business shirts, you could do far worse than pay a visit to the Charles Tyrwhitt website. Whilst the quality of the shirts sold by Charles Tyrwhitt cannot compare with the finest Italian made shirts, their standards are quite high. What is great about them, however, is their user friendly website, which makes buying a cinch (unlike many online retailers who make it a near impossibility to buy from their site) and the frequent sales, which substantially reduce the price of some items.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself as a consumer is a high level of brand loyalty. I wonder if all consumers are as fickle as they are perceived or whether they remain steadfastly loyal to their favourite brands and companies, despite the incredible change we see in the world, particularly in the retail sector. Perhaps, dear reader (I know, that sounds Charlotte Brontëish, but how else can I say it?) you can leave a comment on whether or not you are loyal to your favourite brands.
According to a book I once read (something about one key business systems?), brand loyalty is based on a number of factors. It could be the quality of the product or service one purchases on the first dealing with that company – first impressions are powerful and take a long time to overcome. Similarly, emotion may take the ascendency over reason in the decision to favour one brand over another. But I think the perception of quality, whether imagined or false, has a lot to do with our consumer choices and the adherence to a chosen brand. Consistency is also crucial. If we enter a restaurant and enjoy quality food on Monday and return on the Tuesday for an equivalent experience, only to find the quality of the food of a much lesser standard, we feel cheated and our allegiance to that supplier is tested.
So for years I’ve shopped exclusively at Coles, though many suggest to me there is little difference between Coles and Safeway, or that Safeway (can you believe it dear reader!) is even a superior store (sacré bleu!). when people are so bold as to suggest this I am roused to indignation and reel off, to their amazement, a series of reasons for my preference, while they smile and avert their eyes from someone who gets so wound up over something most people don’t give a second thought to. Or there was my Reebok buying. For years I had an aversion to Nike and only bought Reebok runners, a practice which lasted up until recently when I found I could exist with the cheaper Puma and Slazenger variants. Of course I am well known for my frequenting of McDonald’s restaurants, where once again, when I protest I value their food safety standards and the superior training of their staff – compared to say Hungry Jacks, whose hiring regime leaves much to be desired, I again get those bemused expressions that look at me as if to say, ‘you sorry fellow, God help you.’
But all that aside, I am wanting to refer especially to the English menswear store Charles Tyrwhitt, from whom I buy about half of my clothes and whose online trading platform has been one of the best I have seen. This deep brand loyalty I harbor for CT stems from my positive first impressions. Not so much of the clothing itself, but the attractive presentation of their shirts, ties and other garments on their website and in their catalogues. I remember staring for hours at these images and longing for these fantastic shirts. When I bought some cufflinks, a shirt and a tie from them for the first time – and I still have the first ever tie I bought, I was less than impressed. Whilst the English-made shirt was nice enough, it was not exceptional and did not look as nice as some of my other shirts. The tie was good and of an acceptable quality though the cufflinks I purchased didn’t fit properly and before long rusted!
My next purchase was much more successful and brings together two of my favourite aspects of shopping with CT. I bought two shirts with cutaway collars for little over $60 Au apiece for shirts that would sell for over a hundred dollars here of a comparable quality. The best aspect of CT is their regular sales and the genuine savings one can make buying items during the sales. I also fell on love with the cutaway collar shirt with French cuffs, the best variety of shirt available at that price anywhere. That being said, the shirt is a little bit pricey when not on special as it sells for roughly $120.
If you can purchase one of their suits when it is on special, you would have invested wisely, however, they strike me as being too expensive ordinarily, considering where they are manufactured and comparable items for sale in Australia at a similar price. The suits are produced in disparate parts of Europe such as Romania, Czechoslovakia and most of them sell for close to $1000, which is coming close to what you would expect to pay for suits made in England or Germany. That being said if you want to buy quality Italian suits you will be paying in the thousands. The quality of the Charles Tyrwhitt suits will be better than most suits sold in retail stores in Australia, most of which are made in China, and hence not worth the loom they were threaded on, so it’s worth paying the additional price for the quality. I have purchased a cotton suit from them and these are probably to be avoided, given they crumple easily and don’t have the same ‘serious’ look of their woollen suits. The ‘fit’ of the suits is actually quite good even one has to buy them without the privilege of trying them on. The suit I bought required no tailoring whatsoever, which is more than I can say for suits I have taken to our local tailors, which need more work after I have seen the tailor than they did before I took the suit to them.
As I say though, the non-iron cutaway collar shirt has been a great addition to my wardrobe. It fits moderately well, though he sleeves are not of an ideal length. One of the frustrating aspects of buying shirt online is that in order to modify the sleeve length you will need to pay extra for that. That being said, however, the standard sleeve and collar lengths are adequate for all but the most fastidious buyer. The other problem with sleeve length is that the French cuff sleeves are longer than the single-button cuff sleeves, even when sold under the same measurement.
Their products are not the world’s best. They certainly lack the elegance of the best Italian brands, but their clothing exudes a certain style and elegance (particularly the dignified white shirts). Charles Tyrwhitt have retained my loyalty through special prices, their quality shirts and ease of accessing and shopping at their site; it certainly beats going to Myer.