We recently had the opportunity to test a variety of online MTM shirt retailers. Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing our experiences with you about them. In the first round, we bring to your attention European MTM shirt retailers.
To ensure consistency across the shirt makers we use the following methodology. We award 10 points for its website and ease of use; 10 points for its fabrics range; 10 points for its customer service; and another 20 points for the overall shirt in terms of fit and construction. The construction and fit part of the shirt is weighted more since we believe its the single most important component in a shirt. We attempt to find the same or similar fabrics to equalize the fabric variable across all retailers, to focus on fit and construction.
Bivolino: Belgian MTM Shirts
Bivolino, founded in 1954 is a Belgium based online shirt retailer, which manufactures its shirts in Tunisia. The company utilizes a propiertary biometric sizing technology for which it has a patent. As such they do not ask for a wide range of traditional size inputs. Instead one enters only five inputs: height, age, gender, collar size, and weight. The company has been expanding across Europe and now also offers shirts throughout the UK.
When one first lands on the Bivolino webpage the site is not impressive. It appears to be somewhat dated, especially given the range of newer sites that employ a cleaner and easier to use design. That said, the site is highly functional and allows for decent 3D rendering of the shirt. There is nothing quite like seeing a shirt yourself when doing MTM, but Bivolino's attempt is acceptable. The company also offers an iPhone app which we thought was very innovative, although the app was somewhat buggy.
What makes Bivolino distinctive is not its business shirts, but its art and informal shirts. The company offers a vast range of Liberty prints, and others to make a colourful contemporary shirt. Yet, this can also be found elsewhere. What, however, cannot are the company extremely unique art prints, fabrics that feature a painting that one can wear as a shirt. While certainly not for everyone, it certainly makes the company unique. While the company offers a decent range of traditional fabrics, the range is somewhat limited. The company does carry higher end "Thomas Mason" and "Soktas" fabrics, but again in limited quantities. The image quality of the fabrics were high resolution and certainly gave you a real sense of what the fabric looks like. We opted for a Thomas Mason fabric shirt.
We reached out a few times to Bivolino to help us answer questions regarding collar options and the like and found the service to be good and timely. While nothing beats speaking to someone, email is the next best thing. We received the shirt in ten days from the date we ordered it. The first few shirts needed to be altered and the company worked with us to ensure the final shirt was near perfect.
Fit and Construction:
With only five inputs, Bivolino produces a very decent MTM shirt. The shirt length, and overall fit was acceptable. The shirt was not too snug, nor too baggy. The silhouette was also flattering. In our experience the fit was not perfect, in a few areas. Specifically, the arm hole was far too large for a MTM shirt, and more similar to an off the peg shirt; the cuffs were also too large for the single button, but reasonable when using the second.
After a few times of going back and forth with the company we were able to get a near perfect shirt. Of all the shirts, the cut away collar of the Bivolino shirts was by far our favorite.
Interestingly, every shirt features the company's squirrel logo. Initially we tried to remove it to only learn that each shirt has one and all one can do is move the logo to the bottom of the shirt. We originally selected the logo to be stitched in white to be indiscernible, but after having received the shirt, the squirrel has grown on us and we wish we had selected a more colourful animal.
Bivolino makes a very decent MTM shirt, beginning at a reasonable €45. The company has a good fabric range which allows one to choose from the basic business shirt fabrics. While the biometric sizing technology was not perfect for us (we had to contact customer service with our unique size inputs), it may work for men that are closer to having a traditional size. That said, if you're willing to work with Bivolino they'll make you a a great shirt.