Santamaria Shirt Makers in Notting Hill Gate is the genteel place to have a bespoke shirt made to measure. At this lovely little boutique just off Pembridge Square Gardens you can create the ultimate shirt, choosing from a huge list of gorgeous fabrics and be fitted to perfection.
Santamaria Shirts in London is owned and run by Ana Rodriguez, the daughter of the famous Spanish bespoke tailor Ramon Santamaria, an Anglophile who has made shirts for the Spanish royals as well as many other notables, including celebrities and politicians. Word to the wise, Spanish politicians tend to be better dressed than their British counterparts!
Ramon’s shirt studio in Madrid makes the shirts and you can either get fitted as I did at the Notting Hill store or you can go online and use their 3D shirt designer, and they guarantee a perfect fit, however I would recommend getting Ana Rodriguez’ expert advice the first time to create something really special.
I popped in to get a shirt for an event at the House of Lords later that month and Ana was absolutely charming, instantly putting me at ease and showing me the various choices that were on offer. First of all we discussed what I liked in a shirt, such as the cuff shape, collar style and buttons. Ana also suggested a discreet monogram that would be sewn into the cuff or shirt front which is popular in Spain and Italy.
We then looked through wonderful books in thick printed paper, by leading fabric designers: Thomas Mason, David and John Anderson, Textiber and Sidogras. Thomas Mason were founded in Lancashire in 1796 and considered one of the finest fabric houses in the world. Now Italian owned, they maintain a classic tradition in a modern and original way, through precious and colourful double twisted fabrics, crafted using exceptional Giza 45 and Giza 87 Egyptian cotton and a refined linen from Normandy.
Together we settled on a gorgeous Thomas Mason burgundy and blue polka dot in 100% super thin cotton, which is fine, light and silky to the touch. Ana then notices my watch and asks if I would like the watch sleeve to be slightly shorter to accommodate it (I like large watches) and we go for that too. I select a conservative round French cuff, with a more modern sartorial cutaway collar in the Italian style (also known as a Windsor collar) and gleaming white mother of pearl buttons. Oh and we pick burgundy cotton for the button stitching to match the shirt, yes sartorial elegance really is in the detail.
I then get very carefully measured: height, waist, hips, arms, collar and wrist to make sure the shirt will fit me, well, like a glove. Then the order is carefully taken and my imagined shirt is now in the ether, a pattern to be cut, stitched and formed in many different countries.
This entire process has built up my excitement and I just want to see the final shirt, but just like Christmas, it’s so much better for the wait. My shirt is about to go on a grand tour of Europe first. Starting off in Italy where the material is made, then it will travel to Spain to be designed, according to my choices and fitting, eventually making its way over to London when an email will formally announce to my inbox that it is waiting to be collected. I recommend collecting the first one, so Ana can check everything is correct and that you are perfectly happy with it.
The whole process is marvellous, creating a truly unique bespoke shirt, with every detail carefully selected, from cuffs to collar, buttons and sleeve length. You will never run into someone wearing the same shirt. Also many of the fabrics are limited edition so only a small amount is manufactured. Something to note, they have many more fabrics available in store than online. Santamaria Shirt Makers also have free returns on all orders and a perfect fit guarantee. If the first shirt doesn't fit, they’ll make you a completely new one, and donate the original shirt to charity.
So Santamaria Shirt Makers are offering the best of both worlds, the full luxury experience with infinite choice and personal tailoring when desired, or 3D online bespoke fitting and ordering when time is short. What this proved to me is that we should always try to take the time to do things well, taking expert advice when offered and revelling in the superior craftsmanship and product that results. These shirts are not expensive either, around the same price you would pay for an off the rack top brand name at one of the bigger department stores. Perhaps we should all insist on this service whatever the price point and everyone would be able to make more time to produce quality and earn fairly as a result.