Before I started wearing dress shirts a few years ago, I was coming from short sleeves polo shirts. The later were not appropriate for my new job and most of the time regular business shirts look out of place. The elastic and breathable knitted fabric feels also better in summer when your other shirts are just the standard non-iron popeline stuff.
So I thought it would be great to combine both and started searching for knitted button up shirts with long sleeves. What I thought to be an easy task, became quite frustrating, because non seemed to be available.
Talking with a friend which happens to run a menswear store, he searched and came up with Dalmine and Giampaolo shirts. Beautiful, but expensive stuff way out of my wallet. Later I discovered knitted popovers from Suit Supply, which were okay, but left much to be desired. I finally found some knitted Finamores via shoppingthefinest and a Borrelli and Guglielminotti at yoox. Still not cheap, but a bit better than the others at brick and mortar prices. I bought some, and I am still happy with them, but colors and sizes were limited. Boggi also carries them from time to time, but their store next to me never seems to stock them, and their online business is a bit expensive when it comes to shipping.
So, some months ago, when I discovered Kamakura shirts, I was thrilled to learn that they over a fairly brought selection of knitted shirts.
Immediately I wanted to order a red button down in their “New York Knit” fit. Sizes are a bit odd, since there is only S-M-L… but finally settled for S and went along. Since then, I also got a medium blue (the slightly darker blue which was added a few days ago) with the cutaway collar, which is a bit more versatile.
My observations after several times of wear:
The fabric itself is finer and stronger than the average pique/polo fabric of your Gant or Hilfiger shirts. This is important because otherwise the weight of the long arms stretches the fabric over the day and they become too long, the collar would become bigger and the buttons would unbutton. Because of that, the placket and collars are lined and probably fused for more structure. It works very well that way and it is still much more elastic and comfortable than your woven shirts. It wears quite airy.
I’m a guy with a 15.75 collar, 35-35.5 arms and a fairly slim build, particularly in the chest and shoulders. The NY knitted works good for me in size S, but could be slightly slimmer at the shoulders. The arms could be also 0.5” longer, but work well with most of my sport coats. The Tokyo knits would be too short at the sleeves and body. On the other hand, the body is too long to wear the NY untucked, which I don’t do anyway. If you plan to do so, consider the Tokoy fit, shorter arms will still work, since you won’t wear them untucked under a sport coat.
I am washing the shirts at 30 and 40 °C and dry them flat at the air to prevent it from stretching when hanging wet at the hanger. Due to the fabric I will not put them into the dryer, it may be an option if the shirt is too big. Ironing is very quick and its quite wrinkle resistant.
Overall I like them as much as my knitted Finamore and Borrelli shirts. They perform even better when it comes to stretching. The fabric is more prone to damage caused by pulling threads at a nail or similar than a woven fabric, but that’s the nature of the knits.
I wouldn’t hesitate wearing the cutaway shirt at a casual summer wedding with a tie and a cotton or linen suit. The new cotton linen knits might wear particularly well in the summer (unfortunately only available in white).
All in all I’m very happy with both and plan to add a few more to my closet, just to have more variety.