OFF THE CUFF: J. Hilburn co-founder Hil Davis was enticed by the direct-sales model. There is no storefront, so his company makes house calls. photography by Joshua Martin

Dallas-based J. Hilburn Makes Affordable Custom Men’s Shirts

Co-founders Hil Davis and Veeral Rathod used their finance backgrounds to engineer the $79 custom button-up.

Hil Davis was on a plane flying from Chicago to L.A. reading Robert Hagstrom’s investment strategy handbook The Warren Buffet Way, when his life changed. Inticed by the potential profits of a direct-sales company structure, Davis began planning. Three months later, while trying to decide what product his company could offer, inspiration struck. His wife noted how much he liked his $250 custom-made shirts. Shirts it was. Since they wouldn’t be a retailer (no storefront, only a showroom), his shirts would be cheaper than those of similar quality.

It may seem like an unusual beginning for a clothing company, but it makes sense when you learn that Davis and Veeral Rathod, co-founders of the Dallas-based J. Hilburn, both have finance backgrounds. (It certainly doesn’t sound odd to the venture capital firm Battery Ventures, which recently invested $4 million in the company.) It makes even more sense when you see the prices their direct-sales model allows (think Mary Kay, but replace makeup with clothes). Since launching in late 2007, the company has been offering discerning male shoppers custom-made shirts starting at just $79. 

Though the price point suggests otherwise, J. Hilburn cuts no corners. Customers can expect to get the same quality and service they get from any other custom shirtmaker, including various options on collar, cuff, pocket, fit, placket, and back pleat styles. (Personalize even further with a monogram on the back of the collar or cuff.) You can choose from more than 250 swatches of fabrics sourced directly from Tessitura Monti in Italy (the same fabric designer labels such as Zegna use). Depending on fabric choice, the cost is $79 to $149. J. Hilburn’s blue label ($79) is 50-thread count, the brown label ($99) is 100-thread count, and the black label ($149) is 140-thread count. They will introduce cashmere sweaters this fall and partially custom-made pants next year.

Personal style advisors help clients with selection and will make house calls to take measurements, place orders, and deliver. In three to four weeks, you’ll receive a piece of bespoke finery that defines your style. Ready to re-order? Simply log-on to the e-commerce site (which stores your measurements), or stop by the showroom to get a personal fitting and shoot some pool.

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