Black Lapel (BL) --formerly AlphaSpoke --recently opened its online doors to the public after a long awaited transformation.  We've worked with co-owner Warren Lao on a few pieces and today we bring you a review of BL's made to measure shirts.  BL's shirts are made of 100% two-ply cotton sourced from the Italian textile mill Filarte, as well as Shanghai, China. Production for all of BL's shirt and suits (coming in another review) takes place in Shanghai where one of the co-founders oversees production and operations. BL currently offers 17 suit fabrics and 22 shirt fabrics online while a wider selection of fabrics is available for in person appointments in NYC. They offer several standard customization options.

Basic -

  • Fit - Standard, Tailored, Slim (we recommend tailored)
  • Collar - Classic (semi-spread), spread, point, tuxedo (wing-tip)
  • Monogramming
  • Cuff Type - One-button rounded, squared, or angled. Two-button rounded, squared, or angled.  French squared or rounded.  Convertible squared or rounded.

Advanced -

  • Chest Pocket - yes or no
  • Contrast Collar - yes or no
  • Contrast Cuffs - yes or no
  • Placket - Standard, French, or Hidden
  • Side Cut - Looped or Straight
  • Back - Flat (no pleats), Side Pleats, or Center Pleat
  • Darts - By special request

Good -  

We've come to the point in our wardrobe progression that we know what we like and we try to find the best that can accommodate our taste.  Some we've come across have been better than others.  We can say that Black Lapel's shirt fits as well as any shirt we've tried thus far.  The tailored fit is neither tight nor loose.  

The collar is snug but not tight.  The length is also spot on and stays tucked well.   The herringbone pattern is subtle but strong and the monogram on the left rib cage blends in well.  The darts provide a clean look across the back.  The buttons are thick and sturdy although they are not mother of pearl and we were able to have the second to last button hole stitched horizontally which allows the placket to lay flat without puckering.

The price point of $99-$109 is reasonable compared to other online MTM shirts we've tested of similar quality.

Bad -

While the fit and details are satisfactory we're disappointed with the collar spread and actual color of the shirt.  We prefer a bit more aggressive spread collar and the "ivory" color is actually more of a milky gray than white.  At the time I was looking to add to my white shirt collection so the gray color was a bit disappointing.  Also, while the buttons are thick and sturdy they are not mother of pearl.

Verdict -

If you're looking for a entry level MTM shirt with sturdy construction, above average materials and great customer service then we think Black Lapel is a descent option. They have a ways to go before we put them in a higher category but they've gotten off to a good start.

Our shirt details -Ivory herringbone

Tailored fit

spread collar

2 button barrel angled cuff

No chest pocket

No contrast collar

No contrast cuff

French placket

Looped side cut

Flat back