Over six years, I’ve worn three of Ratio Clothing’s custom shirts. Read on for my complete review of Ratio Clothing’s remarkable and competitively-priced, made-in-America, made-to-measure shirts (and see why they’re a spectacular option for custom tailored oxfords and flannels).
I wrote a first version of this article way back in 2013 when I had the pleasure of interviewing founder Eric Powell to understand how Ratio differentiated itself from other online custom clothiers.
In November 2019, I updated this review to include a recent interview with Eric on what has changed at his company as well as a new review of Ratio Clothing’s Bradford Flannel shirt.
What is Ratio Clothing?
Ratio Clothing is an online, made-to-measure shirt retailer founded by Eric Powell and headquartered in Colorado. It’s one of a number of online custom tailors contributing to a rich array of bespoke and made-to-measure options for men in the digital age.
The company is a great example of the kind of impressive digital native brands that are helping men dress sharp in the digital age.
Ratio Clothing was born of several frustrations founder Eric Powell felt when it came to finding a well-fitting dress shirt.
Off-the-rack garments never fit quite right, while online custom clothiers often required extensive and cumbersome self-measurements to pinpoint that unique fit. Eric’s solution was to found Ratio Clothing, which emphasizes ease of ordering and quality fabrics.
I first found Ratio Clothing in 2013 via the now-defunct daily deals site The Daily Hookup, from whom I purchased a voucher. I used that voucher towards Ratio Clothing’s Harrison Tattersall shirt with a spread collar. (Six years later and the shirt is still available. That’s remarkable!)
Eric subsequently offered to provide a White Signature Twill shirt with a semi-spread collar at no cost to Modern Fellows for the purpose of a review. In 2019, Ratio Clothing provided a Bradford Flannel shirt at no cost.
This article is based on impressions of all three shirts and my experience with the brand over more than 6 years.
How Ratio Clothing has evolved since its founding
“We’ve been evolving and improving in small gradual steps since we started,” Eric told me in 2019. He noted that those gradual changes start with the foundation of his business, the manufacturing process.
Most of Ratio’s major competitors — along with many off-the-rack and mass-market retailers — work with huge mega factories in Asia. From its beginning, Ratio worked with a small factory in the United States to bring made-in-America shirts to market.
There are pros and cons to that approach. Eric noted that, “Ratio’s factory, like many U.S. apparel factories, makes a very good product, but had struggled to keep up with technology relative to their big Asian counterparts.”
(Sadly, this is a common refrain that I hear from other brands who have explored sourcing clothing in the United States.)
Where are Ratio Clothing’s shirts made?
While other brands gave up and went to Asia, Ratio made a “huge investment of time and money in building the technology infrastructure” at its factory in America. Today, Ratio Clothing’s shirts are still made in America.
Ratio’s U.S. factory can compete on an even playing field from a technology standpoint with overseas competitors while still maintaining the premium quality they’ve honed over about 60 years of operation. The end result of that investment is faster lead-time, better quality, and a superior customer experience, all for a price that’s on-par with competitors who source shirts from Asia.
How much do Ratio Clothing’s shirts cost?
Ratio Clothing’s made-to-measure shirts cost between $98 and $159 depending on the fabric. Ratio Clothing offers free shipping on orders over $200.
How to order from Ratio Clothing
Ordering online from Ratio Clothing is remarkably — unusually — simple and straightforward. The reason? You only need to answer a few simple questions to achieve a custom fit with no measuring tape required.
First create a custom fit blueprint
Customers can get started very quickly by answering just a couple of questions to create a basic custom fit blueprint:
- How tall are you?
- How much do you weigh?
- How old are you?
- What size do you usually try on first? (For t-shirts, polos, sweaters, and button-ups)
But don’t stop there, because the more information you can provide, the better custom fit you’ll achieve.
Take the extra couple of minutes to complete the rest of Ratio’s questionnaire, which will also ask you to:
- Describe your build (average, fit, skinny, muscular, stout);
- Tell how you would like your shirts to fit (very slim, tailored, traditional) and whether you plan to tuck in the shirt;
- Highlight any fit issues that you tend to encounter with off-the-rack/ready-to-wear shirts, like a too-tight neck or sleeves are usually too long; and
- Provide a couple of measurements, if you know them, including your ideal collar size and sleeve length, normal suit jacket size and length, and typical pants waist and inseam.
Ratio digests your answers and feeds them into a proprietary algorithm. Ratio has leveraged advanced machine learning insights over the years along with live fitting data from their Denver-based showroom. All of that information helps 90% of Ratio’s customers achieve a perfect fit with their first shirt.
Whether or not you buy a shirt, if you sign up and complete your profile, Ratio will send a Fit Report with information that’s helpful beyond any purchase. Their algorithm will predict your body measurements and all your off-the-rack sizes. They find it to be nearly 100% accurate.
Alternately, if you would prefer to incorporate more precise measurements into the process, you can measure a shirt you already own yourself, or enter your own measurements into your fit profile.
Then customize a shirt
Next it’s time to pick out a shirt.
First, select a shirt fabric. Ratio Clothing’s photos make it easy to envision what the shirt will look like, with big bright close-ups of their shirts.
Eric and his team naturally feature standard business shirt fare including pinpoints, broadcloths, end-on-end stiches and heavier twill weaves in a range of solid blues, whites, greys, purples, pinks and yellows, along with mini-checks, glen plaids, stripes, checks, grids and more.
But Ratio really stands out for their collection of business casual shirts, including their affordable Campus Oxfords collection that clocks in at $98 per shirt. The Campus Oxford is one of Ratio’s signature shirts, and a great deal on a made-in-America oxford button down.
I personally love their collection of flannels, which fondly recall classic J. Crew catalogs from my youth.
(If you too wax nostalgic for classic J Crew, see my guide to the best alternatives to J Crew right now.)
Next, pick out a collar. Ratio offers more than 12 collar options, a huge upgrade from 6 years ago when they featured only three. Then move on to selecting cuff style, sleeves, pockets and plackets. The shirt is then ready to go in your cart.
The entire process — including developing your fit profile and ordering a shirt — can easily be accomplished in under 5 minutes, and requires virtually no self-measurements, assuming you are already familiar with your neck and sleeve sizes.
Unboxing Ratio Clothing’s dress shirts
Upon opening the box for the first time back in 2013, the most striking feature of the shirts for me was the fabric.
I was particularly struck by the blue and orange-hued pink tattersall, a Zepher weave popularized by Thomas Mason. Ratio sources fabric from all over the world, including Italy, India and Japan. Most of their core fabrics, including my tattersall, come via direct relationships with Indian mills that also contract with high-end Italian operations, which helps ensure high quality operations and fabrics. The tatterall is light and silky, while the heavier weave of the twill is soft and substantial. Both feel terrific to the touch.
Back in 2013, my first two shirts, which variously arrived two to three weeks after placing the orders, fit very well out of the box, and I adore them. They look great and feel well-constructed. The buttons are large – but not oddly so – and easy to fasten. Both collars, the spread and semi-spread, sit well and do a good job framing your face.
For those first two shirts, the forearms were a hair too snug, which caused slight rippling between the elbow and the wrist in the photos of the white twill shirt below.
Ratio’s fit guarantee, described below, could have easily resolved that minor issue for me. I did the company a disservice here by not taking them up on the fit guarantee. It’s easy to nitpick about minor issues but, since Eric offered at the time to make it perfect and I never took him up on it, that’s on me.
In 2019, when I went to place an order for that Bradford Flannel shirt , I decided to take Ratio’s new questionnaire and start from scratch. The process was painless and, when I received my new shirt, it fit perfectly.
That Bradford flannel also felt great. It is super-soft. I love wearing it around the house and the neighborhood on cool fall days.
Ease of ordering versus precise fit and customization
Back in 2013 I wrote that, “there is an unavoidable tension between ease-of-ordering and the ability to customize and accurately capture measurements and fit preferences.”
I’m not sure that’s true anymore in 2019.
Between technology’s remarkable advance and Eric’s iteration on the questions that he asks, I’m convinced that Ratio Clothing has found a really sweet spot that enables ease-of-ordering while nailing your fit.
Ratio’s primary ordering portal is refreshingly simple, and impressively gets a lot right with very little information. In particular, sizing via suit measurements and simple fit questions is ingenious.
When I took their survey in 2019, Ratio managed to capture my size and fit preference exceptionally well without requiring many details.
Eric is also willing to go above and beyond. So if you don’t see an option or a way to capture a particular fit preference or sizing issue, talk it over with Ratio before putting that shirt in your cart.
Ratio Clothing’s customer service, alterations policy, and reorders
“From the beginning of launching Ratio, we’ve tried to have an obsessive focus on quality and customer satisfaction,” Eric told me in 2019.
That begins from the beginning of a customer’s journey with Ratio:
Ratio pairs all new signups with a dedicated Fit Advisor–a single resource to guide new customers through the process and answer any questions they have. Ratio Clothing’s Fit Advisors will review photos or any special notes left by customers, and they’ll even jump on the phone with new customers to review sizing concerns. “The algorithmicly-generated size is the starting point, and often is perfect,” says Eric, “but the extra human step allows us to be even more confident in the result for new customers.”
He adds that, “there are still things that a human can do better than an algorithm.”
When he first started, Eric handled customer service directly. He and his team pride themselves on being quick to respond to inquiries about shirt orders with offers to address fit issues. Eric emphasized when we first spoke that he’s “as fanatical about fit as our most nit-picky customer. We’re not going to roll our eyes over a guy who wants to take in a quarter of an inch. Our number one goal is to make someone a perfectly fitting shirt.”
Ratio maintains a 100% satisfaction guarantee for first time customers: If you’re not 100% satisfied with your first shirt, Ratio will alter or remake it for free.
Ratio’s liberal return policy, focus on quality fabrics, and strong commitment to making customers happy with the fit should inspire more than sufficient confidence to give them a try.
How long does it take to receive a shirt from Ratio Clothing?
Ratio Clothing notes that their U.S.-based factory can cut and sew your shirt in about two weeks.
What’s next for Ratio Clothing: MTM trousers and a showroom expansion
Conclusion: Are Ratio Clothing’s shirts good value?
Ratio Clothing produces an exquisite and competitively-priced American-made dress shirt that uniquely balances convenience in ordering, fit, high-quality fabrics and a desire to make sure the customer is happy with the final product. Those two shirts that I ordered way back in 2013 are still going strong, and I’m enjoying the cozy Bradford flannel that I’m wearing right now.
Bottom line: Having perfected my fit profile, I would enthusiastically order from Ratio Clothing again, and sincerely look forward to keeping up with their new shirting fabrics and future product launches. There’s a reason why Ratio Clothing is one of my all-time favorite brands for men.
Still on the fence? This is from founder Eric Powell:
We’re not the flashiest brand, but we’re a small team that really cares deeply about our customers and the quality of the product. We literally obsess over it, and that’s why the customers we have keep coming back. For your readers that are evaluating their options, I would encourage them to give us a try so they can experience what it’s like to work with a small team dedicated to making them happy.
Visit Ratio Clothing online
How to contact Ratio Clothing
Ratio Clothing, LLC, 100 Fillmore St., 5th Floor, Denver, CO 80206, [email protected]
Pin Me Please: Reviewing Ratio Clothing’s Made in America Custom Shirts
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About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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