- Zachary Prell: Racing Stripes
Like any promising MBA student, Zachary Prell recognized a source of frustration as a business opportunity. Fed up with trying to find a nicely tailored shirt for his slim body, the former I-banker vowed to design and manufacture his dream shirt himself. Among his innovations: a wider cuff to accommodate large watches; a shorter tail, so the shirt still looks great untucked; luxurious Japanese cotton; French seams and no topstitching to prevent puckering; and a snazzy satin side stripe that's a subtle brand motif.
Prices: $165—185; zacharyprell.com
- Rufus: Reddy and Willing
Want to instantly establish your style cred? Compliment your friend on his new Rufus shirt, an ID made by eyeballing the red buttonholes on the guy's cuffs. When designer April Singer was searching for a name for her new company in 2004, she happened on rufus, which in Latin means "red" and stands for charisma, boldness, charm, and self-assurance. It also didn't hurt that her husband is a redhead. Singer's 100% cotton shirts feature bold patterns coexisting in harmony. There's also a fledgling women's line.
Prices: $175—$195; rufus.com
- Thomas Pink: In the Pink
Indulge your inner master of the universe by day with a striped shirt with impeccable white collar and cuffs. Then button on less plutocratic striped trappings after work for drinks with the guys, or lose the collar and cuffs for a true man-of-the-people vibe. Thomas Pink's Convertible slim-fit men's shirt, in Egyptian cotton, is designed to eliminate one of the hassles of travel: packing multiple shirts for different occasions. Right now, it only comes in tasteful blue-and-white stripes, but given early demand, that palette should expand.
Price: $175; thomaspink.co.uk
- Rebecca & Drew: If the Shirt Fits …
Buttonhole gapping. Boxy fit. Pulling at the chest. What does a girl have to do to get a shirt that actually fits? Unlike guys, who have always had a range of neck sizes and sleeve lengths to choose from, women have been at the mercy of manufacturers' whim. Rebecca & Drew's TrioFit collection lets women choose a shirt based on chest circumference, bra-cup size, and torso length. The one-and-a-half-year-old company, started by friends Rebecca Matchett and Drew Paluba, is rapidly adding sizes as demand escalates. "Our goal is to fit everyone," Matchett says.
Prices: $165—195; rebeccaanddrew.com
- Anne Fontaine: Woman in White
For Anne Fontaine, becoming a shirt designer was a complete non sequitur from her intended life of ecological activism. But on a whale watch, the Brazilian native met her husband, Ari Zlotkin, the son of French textile entrepreneurs. The two now have 60 stores worldwide built on one simple idea: the beauty of the white shirt. Like her stylistic inspiration, Yves Saint Laurent, Fontaine often mixes feminine styles with masculine shapes. She has recently expanded her line to include black and, occasionally, a burst of color.
Prices: Starting at $150; annefontaine.com
- Robert Graham: Pattern Recognition
"Knowledge. Wisdom. Truth." Somewhere, on every Robert Graham shirt, you'll find embroidered those three little words. Why? Not even the designer, Robert Stock, really seems to know. But they sure are cool and identify you as a person who's probably, you know, deep. Truth be told, "Color. Pattern. Jazzy" would sum up this line more accurately. Stock, who once designed
Ralph Lauren'sChaps line, launched his own company in 2000. Since then, he has fielded a steady stream of gorgeous shirts, distinguished by their exquisite detailing, such as contrasting fabric inside cuffs and placket. For every 100 shirts he produces, Stock uses 400 fabrics. He recently added a women's line. Introducing "Tonya."
Prices: $188—$228; robertgraham.us
A version of this article appeared in the April 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.