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Hands On: Camicissima’s Package Deal

— Mon, 3rd May 2010 —

Late last year, word traveled fast that Italian shirtmaker Camicissima had opened its first U.S. boutique on Madison Avenue, and was shopping for additional real estate downtown. Selling shirts in packs of four (for $99.90), the company combined Italian craftsmanship — or so the rumors went — with Costco-like efficiency!  Several month on, we had man about town, Eating Brooklyn editor-in-chief, and Beggar contributor Sam Jacobs put Camicissima to the test.

I view dress shirts as disposable items.  You may get a year or two of good wear out of a plain white one, but that’s about it.  The collar develops that permanent yellow hue, button holes begin to stretch, and — let’s face it — our bodies tend to change a bit.  Which is why, when a store like Camicissima comes around straight out of Italy — with its 4 shirts for $99.90 — I approach it with excitement… and a certain amount of skepticism.

While well-organized, the store itself is fairly bland with generic press-board fixtures clad in laminate.  “Try-on” shirts are available, which have already been to the cleaner, and therefore let customers experience the true fit and craftsmanship of the garments. You’ll also find a decent selection of colors and patterns in straight or button-down collars; barrel or French cuff sleeves.  (You’ll find even more options online — but no ecommerce option yet.) Shirt sizes range from 14 ½ to 20 ½. Unfortunately, the store only carry one cut, and one sleeve length per neck size.  I usually run either a 16 ½ or 17, 33-34” sleeve, depending on the maker and cut.  The store’s 16 ½ comes with a 34” sleeve, while the 17 is probably 35”.

Alas, neither shirt fit well.  In the 16 ½ — the better fitting of the two — the neck was too snug, while the sleeves were still long, and the body loose and saggy.  Slim fit these are not.  The 17 was better in the neck, but huge everywhere else.  Worse still, I noticed the button holes were already stretching and tearing — hardly a surprise given the cheap fabric, and mediocre machine stitching.

If you’re a 6’ tall full-bodied American looking for dress shirts to wear for a season, and then discard, Camicissima might be a good option. For the choosiest of beggars, however, these shirts are not a viable option.

- Words and photography by Sam Jacobs

  1. I like CEGO a whole lot better but quite a bit more expensive. Brooks Brothers sale is coming up on the 5th.

  2. I’ve found that getting custom made shirts is the way to go. I get mine at Leung’s Tailor at 91st and Lex, a great place. The shirts are made in NYC and cost $100 with tax, using English cotton shirting. The fit and finish are always perfect, and once you get one made and put it through a few washes, you don’t need to get measured again, you only need to choose the fabric.

    Anonymous

  3. Beggar, I hope you start doing more reviews such as the one above, and the one for Gant Rugger a while ago. They are tremendously helpful. I hope they are one of the new features you hinted about adding.

  4. Beggar- I agree this type of stuff is extremely valuable. thanks. just a suggestion, have you considered doing your own sophisticated version of a “best of” list for men’s shops in NYC, something like best dress shirts, best suits, etc-that you continually update, ala eater’s list of 38 “of the moment” restaurants? most “Best of” lists that are on the web are either stale and outdated or not really specific enough. would be great to know where you consider the first place to check out if you want to buy a winter hat, for example, or a new tie.

  5. How about the best Tailor in New York? Given that I’m always renewing the wardrobe via this site, I always find myself looking for good tailors to fix things up. Except, to this point, I haven’t really found one I’m happy with.

    I know that’d be tremendously useful for me, and probably for other bargain hunters as well. When you save $2500 on the suit, you don’t mind spending $250 to make it look great.

  6. Josh – my father used to buy shirts from CEGO regularly. Still has a bunch from the 80′s. They last, and they’re resonably priced.

  7. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  8. Good morning Choosey Beggar,

    I currently live in Italy. Several months ago while I was out shopping I came across one of the Camicissima stores. Of course here in Italy the price is 99 euros for 4 shirts instead of $99.00. With the current exchange rate that is about 130 bucks. But in Italy they also offer “sartorial quality” shirts at a price of 2 for 99 euros. After spending some time looking through the selection of shirts I ended up purchasing the sartorial quality shirts, one of which with french cuffs Thinking that sartorial meant better quality and fit. Well, I ended taking them to my tailor to have them adjusted, which cost me another $60.00. Simply put, worst shirts I ever purchased with the worst fit ever. I made the mistake of assuming the sizes were correct. The shirts are shaped like a box and are huge. Also, just like the article above says, the collar and sleeve length sizes are way off.

  9. I was quite pleased to hear that Camicissima was opening a US store – then dismayed to read your take on their merchandise. I have shopped at the Camicissima stores in Italy for the past several years and have had quite the opposite experience: huge range of size selection; a “slim” fit line that fits my size perfectly (and flatteringly); a huge variety of colors and patterns; the fabric smooth and soft (almost polished); and craftsmanship certainly above average. [I will say that the stores in Italy sell the shirts at 4 for 99 EUROS, making them about $32.75 at today's exchange rate...maybe we are getting the economy line over here?]
    In any case, i am quite pleased with my finds at Camicissima and would hope that some of these “plus” attributes can be found in the merchandise at the NYC store.

  10. folks wake up and look for quality and not price.There is no way in the world that you are going to get a true custom shirt for 32.00 per shirt as stated above..There is no way you are even going to get a ready to wear shirt for that kind of money..I personally think you must go for 195 and above for a shirt of fine quality..You can always find a lower price but the quality will most likely be commensurate with the price…
    Have never understood why the average man is so consumed by the price….It costs money to look good and it’s very important for your career to look as good as you possible can..Stretch and get better clothing—it will pay off….

    horace greely

  11. Without having any opinion of the brand reviewed, I say this review is a mess. There are several reasons. 1. The reviewer does not know how to care for his own shirts. Collar rings can be removed with any peroxide cleanser, among other methods, and are no reason to discard a shirt. 2. He says they are ill fitting without reference to his own body type or noting it is the Euro standard to sell only one arm lenth per neck size. Different brand and different markets have different cuts; even many international makers will cut fuller for the US market, because we are fat and wear things loosely. This said, the best part of the review is the note on workmanship. Yes, you get what you pay for. Even shirts that feel nice at first may have cheap interlining that will shrink and render the shirt unwearable in time. Best value is to find (or commission, from CEGO or elsewhere) a shirt that fits you, and learn how to care for it. Good shirts can last for decades, there is no reason to treat them like disposable diapers.

  12. It seems they are many range of opinions here that are good however i would beg to differ most on the opinion of “The Choosy Begger”, i think that response is highly questionable and lacks some integrity. The value of the Camicissima shirt hands down is the best value you will find. In a trending market where high-end and custom shirt buyers are moving into more of a streamline fit and better value Camicissima is the place. My Camicissima shirts have lasted 2 years now and are in great condition. Im not sure there is another shirt that exists that is comparable in value. The catch is the shirt has to fit right. Camicissima seems to fit the majority of people with their standard sizing scale. A 100% cotton shirt with minimal shrink, built in collar stays that don’t crease and hold a fresh look wash after wash with italian styling who can go wrong with 4 for $99.90. If you have short arms like The Chooser begger its best to size down and wear the shirts with out a tie. The button hole stretching that is mentioned in this article are from the sample shirts that have been tried on hundreds of times.

  13. jcapital – Did you purchase the Luxury line, 2 for 99.99 euros, or the 4 shirts? Also did you have the shirts fitted by a tailor afterwards? By the way where did you pruchase your shirts? Just curious.

  14. THEIR SHIRTS ARE NOT 100% COTTON!!!!!
    The tags are false representations!! I took one to an expert after breaking out in a rash around my neck and wrists (I AM ALLERGIC TO SYNTHETIC FABRIC). he de-constructed the fibers and tested them in a solution 4 different swatches, 4 times.
    SOMEBODY SHOULD SUE THEM!!!!

    J Daniels

  15. I live in houston and iam trying to open aspecial type mens service to please call me a.s.a.p at 832~969~1048.
    Please for nick anytime please iam very interested

    nick mitchell

  16. I was passing throught the Rome airport last week and saw Camicissima. Being a difficult size to fit I was skeptical. After a few try-ons, I found that I could wear the largest sie they carried, a 50 european. I usually wear about a 19″ 36″ and have to have the body heavily tapered or order asian custom. To my surprise, their off the rack 50 fit very, very well. And unless they are selling different shirts here than in Europe, the quality is impeccable.

    Jay Edelstein

  17. The WORST purchase I ever made. Their sales person guaranteed me that their sizing was based on standard European sizing charts. I wear a 17 1/2″ neck. Standard European sizing calls for a 36/37″ sleeve. They do not allow refunds, only exchanges within 14 days. The fabric is flimsy at best. I purchased 5 shirts, and told a few buddies about the store. They were going to go tomorrow. I am happy I tried on my shirt before I sent them out to be laundered. I called all my buddies and told them to stay far away. Their staff is not honest, their return policy is horrible, and the quality of the shirts is bad at best. DO NOT BUY!!!!

    You will do better for your money at Paul Fredricks (www.paulfredricks.com).

    E. Williams

  18. I think these shirts are fantastic! I bought 3 of them at Rome airport and wished I had bought 6 more for my son. He has recently started working in the City of London and needs to look smart without spending a fortune. Since then we have tried so many different shops in London and they are all too long in the sleeve and wide in the body. He is a size 15 and half and slim build so they fit perfectly, have wonderful designs and are very well made. We can’t wait for them to be available online.

  19. I wish I read your review before my wife found this store. Besides the sleeve length, I didn’t like that you could not put any collar stays on and that there was only one button in the cuffs and the cuffs were way too big.

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