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Sizing up the competition

At Ash & Anvil, we’re committed to designing clothes made specifically for guys 5’8” and below.  To help us nail our sizing and determine the perfect fit for our Everyday Shirts, we had guys across the country try on clothes from popular stores and share what they thought about each shirt.  Our participants evaluated the shirts based on collar, sleeve length, body length, chest, waist, and overall fit.

We’ve spoken with quite a few shorter guys about where they like to shop and heard a wide variety of answers.  Everyone has a different preference for fit and style, but our participants generally agreed.  Looking at some of the more popular brands we tried, here’s what we found:

J. Crew 

J. Crew is the most popular place where our participants like to shop.  We were very excited to see how their shirts held up in our testing.  Participants tried both slim and classic fit shirts.

 

While everyone loved the quality and construction, the shirts clearly aren't made for a shorter guy.  See the above picture as an example! Most of our participants liked the fit in the chest and waist, but the overall body and sleeve lengths were too long and the collar too tight when unbuttoned.  Many of the guys told us that they always alter the shirt length and roll up the sleeves but otherwise love J. Crew shirts.

PROS: Quality and construction, chest, waist
CONS: Sleeve and body length, collar

Banana Republic

Banana Republic was another popular store for our participants. We had them try on both the “Slim Fit” and “Tailored Slim Fit” shirts (the only two options available).



The shirts performed okay, see an example image above.  Most of our participants loved the feel, collars, and chest but found the waist too big and the sleeve and body lengths far too long.  None of our participants said they would buy a shirt from Banana Republic solely because of the extreme lengths.

PROS:  Overall feel, collar
CONS: Body and sleeve lengths, waist

H&M

We had heard that H&M’s sizing runs smaller as a European company and were excited to test them out.  Many of the younger guys we spoke with like the brand.


Participants generally liked the fit of the H&M shirt.  See one of our testers try on the H&M shirt above.  While the sleeves and body lengths were still too long, they weren't nearly as bad as most of the other brands.  The H&M shirt had by far the smallest collar, which had mixed reviews.  A few participants also found that the chest was a bit too tight though this wasn't the norm.

PROS: Better sleeve and body lengths
CONS: Lengths still too long and small chest

Uniqlo

Uniqlo is another brand gaining popularity in the US.  As a Japanese brand, we guessed that their sizes would run smaller and were excited to find out.


Unfortunately, Uniqlo didn't fare well with our participants.  See the image above for reference.  Only a few liked the fit of the chest and waist and everyone thought the sleeve and body lengths were too long.  Though our participants were impressed by the quality of the shirt considering the price, the fit didn’t impress anyone.

PROS:  Quality, price
CONS: Body and sleeve lengths, chest, waist

American Eagle

We were surprised when a few of our participants mentioned shopping at American Eagle.  American Eagle generally sells to a teenage audience but some participants found that their sizing runs smaller and fits better than most brands.  When we evaluated their clothes, we found the same results.


Every guy loved the American Eagle Slim Fit shirt and only a few of the participants ranked the body length too long.  Check out one of our guys trying on the shirt in the image above.  Our participants voted the American Eagle shirt their favorite among the options we tested.


PROS:  Chest, waist, collar, and body length
CONS: Low quality, teenage brand

It’s also worth noting that the American Eagle sample we used didn’t have sleeves, so participants couldn’t judge that metric (we weren’t able to find a similar long sleeve slim fit shirt). That said, the shirt was still the crowd favorite among every person we interviewed.  A few even asked if they could buy it on the spot!


If we had to rank the brands in order of best to worst fit, here’s how it would look:

1.     American Eagle
2.     H&M
3.     J. Crew
4.     Banana Republic
5.     Uniqlo

We also tested shirts from Bonobos, Club Monaco, and GAP.  Like most of the other brands, we found that these had sleeve and body lengths that are too long and an overall fit that just doesn’t work for guys 5’8” and below. 

In the end, we found that there’s a trade-off in the current market.  The more affordable brands that target a younger audience (American Eagle, H&M) have a fit that works better for a shorter guy, but you have to sacrifice on quality and brand.  The more expensive brands that offer a higher quality product are too long for a shorter guy.

Are you a guy that’s 5’8” and below?  What has been your experiences shopping for shirts?  Share your story with us in the comments or send your story to steven@ashandanvil.com