Cem Ekrem Custom Shirtmaker was founded by Cem Ekrem in 1993 in Istanbul, Turkey. Cem Ekrem started working in the shirt making industry at his dad’s atelier when he was young as his father had his own shirt business established in 1956.
Cem Ekrem learned making bespoke shirts from scratch from cutting patterns and fabrics to sewing the pieces together while working with his dad.
Becoming one of the best and well-known shirtmakers in the city over the years, Cem Ekrem has carried his dad’s heritage a step further. His dad also was one of the most respected shirtmakers in the city. Dedicating himself to his profession, Cem Ekrem always does his best, follows the trends, and understands his clients needs, wants, and tastes.
As far as I know you, the shirt making business was inherited from your dad. Can you briefly tell me about yourself, your education, and profession?
After I completed my education in Istanbul, Turkey, I started studying in an interpreting and trade school in Switzerland for two years. While I was living in Switzerland, I interned at Alumo, a shirting fabric manufacturer, which we have been the licensor of the company in Turkey since 1984.
I started learning cutting and design skills for making bespoke shirts at an early age when I started going to my dad’s atelier to help him as he was one of the best bespoke shirtmakers in Istanbul.
Can you describe to me the bespoke shirt making process from the consultation with customers to decision-making and selecting the materials to fittings?
My clients generally know what kind of shirts they need to when they come to me and I complete the process by trying to understand their needs and expectations.
I make a presentation for customers’ tastes and body types while choosing a fabric, and collar and cuff models. I rarely do a fitting as I always take the right and proper measurements. Generally, I deliver the orders as an end product.
What are the differences between a ready-made shirt and a bespoke shirt? What kind of advantages is a bespoke shirt enable the customers?
Primarily, there are differences in quality of fabrics used and sewing techniques between a ready-to-wear shirt and a bespoke shirt. The most significant fact is that a bespoke shirt is specifically made for customers’ body types.
A bespoke shirt service also offers various personalised details which are specifically customised for clients’ preferences such as collar types, cuffs, and different types of buttons.
Enjoying wearing a shirt for years which is made for your exact measurements and personal tastes, and an added chicness are some of advantages that a bespoke shirt offers you.
What are your tips for people who want to order a bespoke shirt?
They have to go to a shirtmaker who makes its best, should choose a fabric made of high quality, have to choose an appropriate collar and cuff models, and should order their shirts at the right measurements.
How is the situation of the bespoke shirt making business for men in Turkey and how do you forecast the future of the business? Are the training courses about the tailoring industry at a sufficient level? What sort of things have to be done for the future of the industry?
Unfortunately, bespoke shirt making and tailoring industries in Turkey are not at their rightful places as there are not many artisans anymore and the new ones are not rising from the ranks. The market has become full of people who make average products. For this reason, they produce garments at poor quality with little to no knowledge. I think there is no bright future for this industry in Turkey anymore as almost all people who work in the industry only focus on making easy money and they do not try to improve their craft.
The training courses about the tailoring industry used to be at a sufficient level in the past however, I cannot say the same thing now. The majority of tailoring academies have been shot down in recent years and the new generation does not prefer spending years to become an artisan.
From my point of view, the government has to support the tailoring institutes that are left and it should pioneer the whole industry to transform itself into today’s realities in line with the necessities of the new era. Otherwise, the sector will fade away in the near future.
What are the essential shirt models in a man’s wardrobe?
Classic shirt models which are worn with suits are the must have pieces in a chic gentleman’s wardrobe. For example, shirts made from plain white, plain blue, striped, and end-on-end cotton fabrics, a pattern which is made by two yarns – one white and one blue. In addition, some of these shirts have to be made with double (french) cuffs.
Apart from the general questions, I want to ask you some questions about your brand. How do you position yourself in the market as Cem Ekrem Custom Shirtmaker?
As Cem Ekrem Custom Shirtmaker, we position ourselves in the market as not mass produced, boutique, and an individual brand. I am not only offering my clients a bespoke shirt made for their exact measurements, but also I am consulting them as a personal shopper in order to help them choose the appropriate colours and tones for their skin tones and pigments, and the right fabric selections which are ideal for their body types.
Where are your bespoke shirts made?
Fabrics and patterns are cut in the cutting room which is based in the front side of the shop, and shirts are made by an in-house team in the sewing room based at the back of the showroom.
Finally, the showroom where I store the fabrics and other materials is situated between the cutting and sewing rooms. So the whole shop has three different parts once you enter.
What cloth merchants and/or manufacturers do you work with?
I am the licensor of Swiss Alumo in Turkey and am working with Söktaş among the local shirting fabric manufacturers.
How long does it take to make a bespoke shirt from scratch? How long does it take you to deliver the orders?
It takes five hours on average to make a completely machine-made shirt from cutting the fabric to sewing the pieces together.
I deliver the orders in two weeks time on average however, it takes up to four weeks when the atelier is full.
As Cem Ekrem Custom Shirtmaker, do you have a unique house style?
Every tailor has a specific cutting style. As Cem Ekrem Custom Shirtmaker, shirts designed in a regular fit with a high cutaway collar, double (french) cuffs, no back pleats, and without a breast pocket are our signature models.
I also want to ask you a few personal questions. How many shirts do you individually have?
I already have forty five shirts that I always wear and I have around seventy five to eighty shirts in total. Of course, I do not know the exact amount of my own shirts.
What is your favourite shirt?
A plain white shirt made with double cuffs and a high cutaway collar is my favourite one.
What type of fabric do you prefer to wear?
I prefer to wear Alumo’s 170/2 Soyella fabric. The number 170 points out the thread count of the fabric and the number 2 symbolises that the cloth is two-ply.
What colours do you like the most?
White, khaki, lilac, and pink.
What cut of a shirt reflects your style?
Custom fit shirts reflect my style really well as a shirt has to fit around my waist however, it should not be too slim.
A double cuff or a button cuff shirt?
Both double cuff and two button cuff shirts are the two models that I like to wear.
A bow tie or a tie?
I prefer wearing a tie.
Lastly, who is Cem Ekrem apart from the business life?
Apart from the business life, Cem Ekrem is a man who loves nature, avoids extravagance, and tries to have knowledge of every single issue.
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