Review: Twillory SafeCotton and Performance


Twillory is a brand I became aware of through Instagram. I really liked their brand ethos and affordability. The Haberdash Group has been in the clothing business since 1892, producing ready to wear clothing for many brands that we may be familiar with. Of course, they were careful not to divulge who exactly they were. Twillory is their effort to strike off on their own and offer direct to consumer savings on good quality mid-range shirts. Recently, I got in contact with their representative Eli, who graciously decided to send me a few shirts to try out. I was given a couple of their non-iron SafeCotton shirts, which omits formaldehyde in the treatment process unlike most on the market. He also sent me a Performance shirt which has moisture-wicking properties, four-way stretch, and cooling technology.

Let's get something out of the way: Non-iron shirts are not considered acceptable by many in the menswear community. That's fine. But I'm certainly not going to compare these to a bespoke English shirt or anything because... well... they're not that. They are, however, useful to those who have very little time to iron, need shirts that look good in a pinch, or are travelling.

Absent from my review trio was their 120's/Sea Island or Untuckable lines, but apparently their non-iron and easy care shirts sell the most. Considering they're an American company and Americans love clothes they can just throw in the dryer and come out looking near-perfect, it's not surprising. I was a little disappointed to learn that the solid twill "Sea Island" shirts weren't really that, just 120's Egyptian extra-long staple cotton. 140's is the quality standard for Sea Island, so unfortunately even "Sea Island Quality" would be misleading. I think they would have been better off calling it "120's Egyptian Cotton" for the sake of honesty, but apparently they are discontinuing them anyway. Eli sent me a 120's White Sea Island Twill as a token of goodwill, which I very much appreciate. I think it's a nice fabric, regardless of whether or not it's genuine Sea Island. This shirt also had genuine mother of pearl buttons. In any case, they are a steal at $99 each, two for $119, three for $175, and four or more for $54.99 each. I'd suggest getting them while you can if you're a non-non-iron fan and need some inexpensive shirts to fill out the wardrobe.

The shirts I received all come with a 5" spread collar that has 3" points and a 1 1/8" tall band in front.  (They have also introduced Point, Cutaway, and Button-Down collars since I received these.) This is a collar shape that will flatter pretty much anyone. Though I think a 1 1/4" band works on my long neck even better, the extra 1/8" is still an improvement from the standard 1" band seen on most shirts. I'm glad they went this route with the collar, as many shirts seem to be downsizing on dimensions to capitalize on trends and save money. Their casual Untuckable line appears to have tiny collars, disappointingly. I think that's a missed opportunity to give the market casual patterns and fabrics with a collar that looks good on more people. The body length is long enough to stay tucked in all day. This is also a welcome change. So many shirts are now made so short they come untucked if you sneeze! Another nice feature is that all the buttons have thread-wrapped shanks, something that adds strength and helps keep the front placket from buckling. The back yoke is split, but the inside yoke is one piece. Because of this, there's no real functionality here. Then again, the usefulness of a split yoke is unclear on a ready-to-wear shirt anyway. I'm of the mind that shirts should either have it done properly or not at all. I wish the sleeves weren't attached at a downward angle like so many modern off the rack shirts either. Sleeves attached in line with the yoke give more freedom of movement.


The first shirt I wore to work was the SafeCotton Non-Iron Sky Window Pane. Obviously it had been packaged for a while and still had wrinkles, so I started by giving it a bit of steam. I did a double take when the wrinkles disappeared before my eyes. Unlike most other non-irons, the fabric still has a very nice hand and doesn't at all feel stiff or uncomfortable. This one didn't have creases on the sleeves or pleats, which in my opinion is actually preferable. I only crease my sleeves when ironing shirts if I'm short on time. Now, SafeCotton is a relative term. Formaldehyde can be dangerous in large quantities but, much like the cyanide in apple seeds, it's so low in non-iron shirts to be inconsequential. That said, there are some people who have reported breaking out into rashes from wearing non-iron shirts. They may be allergic to formaldehyde or some other chemical used in the treatment process of common non-irons. Perhaps the feel of the shirt just doesn't agree with their skin either. My fiancée got a non-iron blouse from Banana Republic and simply could not wear it because it itched so much and needed to return it. Twillory should think about making ladies' SafeCotton shirts and blouses. They would fill an untapped niche for this. But regardless of the debate surrounding toxic chemicals, this fabric is just better than those formaldehyde-enhanced ones in every way.

The SafeCotton Non-Iron Sky Window Pane is pictured worn with a tie from Spier & Mackay, khakis from Jack Donnelly, and dress belt from Croft & Barrow.

The SafeCotton Non-Iron White Twill, in comparison to the previous one, actually had the sleeve creases baked in. This turned out to be an earlier run of the shirts. Later on they eliminated the permanent crease process, with the non-iron technology being woven into the fabric itself, and thus were able to make a superior product. The newer fabric performs a little better, but this fabric softened up to the same feel after a couple of washes. The fabric next to the placket looks ever so slightly puckered after washing and drying, but it's not something that anyone will notice once it's being worn. I'd recommend at least touching up the collar with a steam press on SafeCotton shirts if you have the time. It can curl under slightly coming straight from the dryer, though not as much as other non-iron shirts I've owned. Both the SafeCotton shirts have rounded adjustable button cuffs. The cuffs could use a larger rounded corner, which I think would help them not catch and roll back as much.

The STARTER // Performance Tattersall worked better than I expected. It contains 65% cotton, 22% polyester, 11% nylon, and 2% Spandex. The synthetic content is alluded to on the website, but not exact percentages. It wicked moisture as promised and the poplin weave helps it wear cooler, but I'm still all about 100% cotton. The shirt certainly had a performance feel to it, so it can't quite pass for 100% cotton against your skin. It was still comfortable and not at all scratchy like some poly/cotton offerings of the past. I'd suggest it for people who cycle to work, coach sports, or need to do other physically demanding things while still looking tidy. I tested it out by walking to one of my favourite lunch destinations nearby in 94 degree weather and, while I did sweat through the armpits (information you totally needed to know), it evaporated more quickly than it would have on an all-cotton shirt. There are mostly casual patterns in these shirts, but since they're sized by neck and sleeve they can also be worn with a tie. This one went particularly well with a navy silk knitted tie.

There are a few stylistic differences from other shirts offered by Twillory. The most obvious is that they have a mitred cuff instead the usual rounded as well as a contrasting blue gauntlet buttonhole. Less obvious is the interesting grey heathered fabric at the inside yoke, cuffs, and gussets -- something of which I'm not certain the purpose. This is another line I could see working for women as well. The finish on the Performance isn't quite as magical and the fabric tends to crease more easily. This may partially be due to the fabric being poplin. Twill is used frequently in non-iron shirts due to its wrinkle resistance even when untreated. However, it's relatively easy to press with just steam. So, I'd personally consider this shirt easy-care instead of non-iron.

Of course, I wanted to go a step further in seeing how everything performed. So instead of tumble drying, I decided to hang dry the shirts. There were only a few wrinkles on both generations of SafeCotton shirt, with the newest one (sans sleeve creases) performing the best. The Performance didn't do as well in this test despite its synthetic content.

The older generation of SafeCotton shirt is made in Sri Lanka, whereas the newer generation of it and the Performance are made in China. I'd be interested to see what their quality standards are and how they ensure that overseas workers are treated fairly.

Along with the shirts they sent me a couple little extras in the form of collar stays. I have to admit, I really do like these ones. They're quite thick and sturdy, unlike the cheap stamped metal ones that come with some shirts. The ones sold separately come in a set of three with a cardboard tube to store them in. As the description on the website says, "In a pinch they can also serve as a letter opener, screwdriver or guitar pick." I have successfully used it for the first purpose, have not tried the other two! Instead of the usual collar stays, Performance shirts all come with bottle opener collar stays, which are also sold separately as one pair in a magnetic carrying case. I personally won't get much use out of them, being a mostly whiskey drinker who only buys bottled soda once in a while, but for the people they are marketing to this will probably be a cool gimmick. You can see me trying it out below... with mixed results.


Twillory has a few little bugbears, but it's still a good value for the price. They have the best non-iron shirt on the market, in this price range, by far. In fact, I think they may have the best non-iron shirt period. Better than the Brooks Brothers I've had in the past and most certainly better than Charles Tyrwhitt. By foregoing the chemical dipping and curing process, including formaldehyde, they are not sacrificing function. I think that aspect should be emphasized more than it being a "safe" cotton. At the same time, products that embrace a less or no chemical approach (whatever the reasons) are a hot seller with Millennials and Gen Z, which is probably a big part of the reason they're selling so well. I'm not personally as sold on the Performance line, but I can definitely see the market for it. Is other clothing besides shirts in the future for Twillory? I think their SafeCotton process would work very well for chinos. I'd also like to see them extending their offerings for men and boys to women and girls. One can hope!


Make sure to use my referral link in order to get $25 off your first order. Once you receive it, let me know what you think.

Nouveau Vintage was given material compensation in exchange for this review. However, all efforts have been made to remain objective. Thanks to Eli and Simcha of Twillory for sending me products to evaluate.

Comments

  1. Nice looking shirts. If the window pane shirt had a button down collar and your belt was a surcingle or something you'd look more trad! I don't think a spread collar goes well with chinos.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. I don't think a spread collar automatically disqualifies itself with casual trousers such as chinos and jeans. However an unfused, soft collar (which you can't really do as non-iron) probably looks more cohesive. I figured the casual pattern would be enough. I do own a couple of surcingle belts but don't wear them much. Also not into button-down collars with ties as much as I used to be.

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