Virtually Bespoke: Sid Mashburn Shirts, Via Skype

Can the custom universe breach the cold, impersonal void of Wi-Fi? Horacio Silva logs on.

These days it’s possible to order customized versions of nearly everything online. T-shirts and sneakers, baseball caps and bed sheets, even cars and cigars—more and more mostly mass-market companies are allowing shoppers to create their own designs with a tap, swipe, and click-to-buy. But digital customization has largely bypassed high-end fashion. And the slim pickings become emaciated in designer men’s e-commerce. (Monogrammed Burberry poncho, anyone?) Enter Skype Bespoke.

Sid Mashburn is using the app as well as FaceTime for its made-to-measure program. The designer (formerly of Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger) turned retailer, and now e-tailer, promises me the opportunity to order his shirts wherever I am and to my specifications.

“If you have the time we definitely recommend interfacing with one of our staff,” said L. J. Slan, an affable sales associate in the Atlanta store, who walked me through the process via Skype. “Our job is not to dictate but to listen and prescribe—each session ends up being like a cross between a fitting and therapy.”

Slan listened with the solicitousness of a shrink, grilling me gently about my shirt needs (business meetings and cocktail parties) and preferences (usually worn untucked, so not too long, and with a blazer) all the while noting my posture. By the end of our session, Slan had not only helped me settle on a suitably versatile fabric (a durable washed indigo chambray) and encouraged me to live a little and opt for a double-barreled cuff, but also somehow, with perfectly Southern charm, pulled off the impossible by pointing me to a roomier style than the slim fit I had chosen. If anything, I came away impressed by my “broad athletic shoulders.”

It’s an experience as uneventful as it is overdue. Thirty minutes later, with little fanfare—no revolutionary 3-D body scanners or smart mirrors to speak of, not even the option to monogram your purchase, which seems like a missed opportunity for a purveyor of custom clothes—my order was sent to the factory to be sewn, at 22 stitches per inch. It may not provide the real-world “kid in a candy store” visual wonderment of being fitted at Charvet (or at Mashburn in Atlanta), but last time I checked the Charvet website was still under construction.

Shirts take three weeks, from $140; sidmashburn.com.