Eton Dress Shirts: Are They Worth It?
Within the realm of men’s dress shirts, Eton falls somewhere in between higher-end brands such as 100 Hands or Attolini, and lower-end brands such as Banana Republic, J.Crew, or Charles Tyrwhitt. They retail anywhere between $185 and $295 which is quite steep for an off-the-rack shirt. So, why are they so popular among consumers today–and […]

Within the realm of men’s dress shirts, Eton falls somewhere in between higher-end brands such as 100 Hands or Attolini, and lower-end brands such as Banana Republic, J.Crew, or Charles Tyrwhitt. They retail anywhere between $185 and $295 which is quite steep for an off-the-rack shirt. So, why are they so popular among consumers today–and are they worth your money?

Slim, including super slim cuts, trendier fabrics, as well as spread collar options, and a non-iron, wrinkle-resistant treatment have made Eton rather popular even among menswear enthusiasts. Spearheaded by their designer Sebastian Dolega, they also are not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to very artistic or artsy and Bohemian types of shirt fabrics and materials. So, when it comes to things like floral patterns, they don’t have to hide behind Etro or Robert Graham.

Eton isn't afraid to push their envelope when it comes to their floral and Bohemian designs.

Eton isn’t afraid to push the envelope when it comes to their floral and Bohemian designs.

Of course, all that comes with a relatively hefty price tag for an off-the-rack shirt. Casual shirts cost between $185 and $235 in 2020 and their more regular dress shirts range anywhere between $235 and $295. This is certainly a level where you can just, get online made-to-measure shirts but you can actually go to a local store or haberdasher get a full-fledged made-to-measure shirt, you can even get bespoke shirts in Europe for less than that, out of comparable fabric with considerably more handwork.

Even if you get one of their shirts on sale for 40 or 50% off they’re not quite a super low bargain. However, ever since 2012 Eton has developed a strong foothold with higher-end or upscale menswear retailers. To understand why and whether they’re a worthwhile investment, let’s get to know the brand and look closely at the details of these well-known high priced shirts.

Eton dress shirt in pink

Eton slim dress shirt in pink

History of Eton

The company was formally founded in 1928 in the small Swedish town of Ganghester by Annie and David Peterson. Initially, they would sew those shirts out of their home under the label of Skjortfabriken Special, which meant Shirt Factory Special. They grew in popularity locally and being in an area where there was still quite a textile manufacturing at the time in Sweden, they were able to expand rather quickly.

In 1955, they made a push into the British market and David Peterson had been to Eton in England and was impressed by its nimbus and the campus and they also realized that the Swedish name wasn’t quite marketable in England and so, they started a line that was the “Eton Special” line and when it was really popular, they decided to rename the entire brand into Eton. Around the same time, they opened a state-of-the-art shirt factory in Ganghester in Sweden which today serves still as the headquarters of the company.

The company was founded in 1928 by Annie and David Petterson.

The company was founded in 1928 by Annie and David Petterson.

I was able to visit the headquarters in 2014 when they were still making their higher-end DnA shirts in Sweden. I don’t think they do that anymore simply due to high labor costs in Sweden but one thing that really stood out to me was all the equipment and machinery they used. They had developed extensive processes and even came up with their own ceiling-mounted systems that were branded as Eton.

Throughout the existence of the company they always tried to get better, get more efficient, and have a better quality shirt, and because of that, they came up with new machines, machine editions, and whole systems which eventually was outsourced to a subsidiary called Eton Systems which is wholly owned by Eton Shirts.

Eton's headquarters in Ganghester, Sweden.

Eton’s headquarters in Ganghester, Sweden.

In my mind, that was really impressive for a clothing company. Also, they always were interested in innovation and so even in the 70s, they experimented with organic non-iron or wrinkle-resistant treatments which eventually led to their first, what they called Non-iron Shirt in 1992. In my opinion, to this day, their non-iron treatment is a cut above the rest and it’s something that gives them a competitive advantage in the marketplace today.

The company was probably owned until 2012 when Litorina took over then sold it again to EQT partners in 2016. In my mind, it was very interesting to see that Eton didn’t really become popular in the US until after they were acquired by Private Equity Ventures.

Eton started their non-iron shirts in 1992

Eton started their non-iron shirts in 1992

A Closer Look At Eton Shirts

Eton has claimed in the past that they make the best dress shirts in the world, so of course, you want to know, is that actually true? So what do you, as a consumer, actually get in terms of materials, construction, fit, and details when you buy an Eton shirt?

Eton shirts

Eton shirts

1. Fabric

Just look in their shirt. The number one ingredient is, of course, the fabric and so a high-quality fabric is important for a high-quality shirt. Now Eton uses mostly Giza 45 cotton which is long-staple Egyptian cotton or Sea Island cotton from the West Indies. Only .0004% of all cotton in the world are actually Sea Island cotton, so it’s not something that is really well-suited for mass production at the scale that Eton is doing it.

Eton is also large enough to create exclusive fabrics just for them even with leading shirt fabric manufacturers. Because they produce over a million shirts a year, they use different kinds of cotton including star cotton from JC Holloway and Egyptian cotton. All of their stuff is extra-long-staple cotton which means it lasts longer and will pill less.

Eton uses Giza 45 cotton for their shirts.

Eton uses Giza 45 cotton for their shirts.

All of the shirt fabrics are true two by two-ply meaning all the warp and all the weft yarns are actually two plied. Why is it important? Basically, it makes the yarn stronger and makes it more consistent, which we elaborate further in our Cotton Explained guide.

When I visited Eton six years ago, they were also experimenting with more environmentally friendly fabrics or materials such as Tencel from the Austrian company of Lenzing, and today, I think they offer a cotton Tencel blend option but the majority of their shirts are still 100% cotton. 

Apart from their signature twill shirts and a full range of broadcloth oxfords and all the typical men’s dress shirts, they also have a large range of casual shirts and artistically inspired shirts that are more geared towards the young professional or Bohemian type.

Eton also experimented with materials such as Tencel from the Austrian company Lenzing.

Eton also experimented with materials such as Tencel from the Austrian company Lenzing.

Eton Non-Iron Dress Shirts

If I had to point out just one thing about Eton shirts, it clearly is their wrinkle-resistant or non-iron treatment. First of all, there’s no such thing as a true non-iron shirt and if you want a crisp look without any wrinkles, you’ll have to iron it. That being said, non-iron treatments can really help to keep shirts better looking and crisper especially when you travel and when you move around all day.

What’s so special about Eton non-iron dress shirts? Well, most non-iron treated shirts are coated in formaldehyde, and it’s a chemical that will come off over the course of 20 washes and it also doesn’t feel very nice on the skin. There’s a very plasticky, almost cheap feel on your skin.

Eton shirts are wrinkle -resistant.

Eton shirts have non-iron treatment.

Eton, in collaboration with Alumo, which is a high-end Swiss shirt fabric manufacturer, developed an organic process that is applied to the yarn, not the finished fabric, that makes the fibers more wrinkle-resistant. The big difference is that you don’t need bad chemicals to achieve that effect and I remember when I was at their headquarters, they advertised that their shirts had fewer bad chemicals than a cup of black tea. For me, that’s pretty impressive and it’s probably one of the reasons why Eton shirts are so popular today.

Eton collaborated with high-end swiss manufacturer Alumo to develop an organic process in making the fibers more wrinkle-resistant.

Eton collaborated with high-end swiss manufacturer Alumo to develop an organic process in making the fibers more wrinkle-resistant.

2. Construction

Interlining

Apart from the fabric, the interlinings they use are of high-quality. I’ve worn their shirts for around six years, I have not had any issues with blistering.

Workmanship

In terms of workmanship, the buttonholes are situated neatly, they’re cut first and then sewn by a machine with a high-stitch density. All the buttons are sewn on with the Ascolite machine which is a method that creates a shank so you don’t have wrinkles on your shirt when you button it, but more importantly, it is designed so the button will never come off. In fact, I’ve never had a button come off of any of my Eton shirts.

The buttonholes are sewn neatly

The buttonholes are sewn neatly and machine-sewn with high-density stitches.

Unlike with most other shirts in this price category, the buttons Eton uses are not true Mother of Pearl. Instead, they are a mixture between crushed Mother of Pearl and resin and plastic, and to me, they feel like a plastic button even though it’s a very sturdy one and it’s not prone to breakage, but it’s definitely a cut below what you would expect from a shirt in the price range.

The buttons used on the shirt are a mixture between crushed Mother of Pearl, resin and plastic.

The buttons used on the shirt are a mixture of crushed Mother of Pearl, resin, and plastic.

Stitching

In terms of stitching, Eton claims each shirt has about 12 000 stitches. No, I didn’t count every single one of them but I can tell you that the stitch density is very high at about 8 stitches per centimeters or about 20 stitches per inch. They also use single needle stitching on the sleeve and along the side seam and it is all machine-stitched. There is no hand-stitching but everything is very neat and accurate.

Eton claims that their shirts have a total of 12 000 stitches each - no, we didn't count them.

Eton claims that their shirts have a total of 12 000 stitches each – no, we didn’t count them.

The shirts are, of course, factory-made, so if you have a patterned shirt, not every pattern on the stripe or shoulders are aligned. Also, the yoke is not split, which is not a big deal for an off-the-rack shirt but if you go bespoke, having the ability to have different yokes allows you to accommodate a different shoulder slope. Also, of course, if you hand make a pattern, you can ensure that the stripes are all aligned and every pattern matches and looks super neat.

Eton shirts do not have a gusset but neither do very high-end shirts. One quirk that annoys quite a few people is the fact that Eton has only sewn-in plastic flexible collar stays so if you want a stiffer collar stay, you can’t add it because there’s no option for that.

Eton shirts only has sewn-in plastic flexible collar stays, so a stiffer collar is not an option.

Eton shirts only have sewn-in plastic flexible collar stays, so a stiffer collar is not an option.

3. Types of Shirts

Five years ago, Eton offered different ranges such as their red label which was more business-oriented, a green label which was softer, and then their DnA which was made in Sweden and more high-end. Today, it doesn’t seem they still offer those same ranges but they still offer dress shirts, evening shirts, and casual shirts.

Eton's green label shirts.

Eton’s green label shirts.

4. Manufacturing

When I visited their factory, all their shirts were made in Eastern Europe, mostly in Romania and Lithuania, all the shirts I have from them today, which are five, are all made in Romania and even new shirts if you look at them, they’re mostly made in Romania. They don’t own their manufacturing facilities but have exclusive contracts with them, and they even supply them with logistics and their own machinery and equipment to ensure that the product is consistently good and of high-quality.

Eton shirts are mostly manufactured in Eastern Europe, mostly in Romania.

Eton shirts are mostly manufactured in Eastern Europe, mostly in Romania.

On their website, they no longer offer their DnA shirts, so I don’t think they produce shirts in Sweden anymore. The labor costs are just too expensive. On the flip side, Romania has one of the lower labor costs in all of Europe so it’s surprising that a shirt with such a high retail price is not made in Italy, for example, but in a much lower cost country like Romania.

Eton's DnA line.

Eton’s DnA line.

5. Fit

When it comes to fit, Eton offers four different options off the rack; that is classic, contemporary, slim, and super slim then they also have things like evening dress shirts and sleeves that are extra-long if you’re tall and can’t find shirts otherwise.

On their website, for an upcharge of what seems to be $40, you can get a custom shirt but it seems to be more like a made-to-measure or a made-to-order program. I know, they claim they offer both made-to-measure and made-to-order and I’m sure if you buy the shirts at the store, you get more information about that. Personally, I have not tried that service so I can’t really tell you much about it.

Eton offers four fit options off the rock: slim, super slim, contemporary, and classic.

Eton offers four fit options off the rock: slim, super slim, contemporary, and classic.

My right shoulder is about two inches lower than my left one and it’s also sloped more, so for me, made-to-measure or made-to-order programs don’t really help that much if I want to get that perfect fit, especially considering that off-the-rack Eton shirts fit me pretty well even though I have relatively long arms and a long torso, but they accommodate for that.

In the US, contemporary is Eton’s most popular fit but it’s going head to head with a slim fit, which I own. It offers a tapered fit, back darts and it’s just overall slimmer than what you would usually find in the US. At the same time, it doesn’t feel overly constrictive when you move around because it has smaller armholes and enough room in the chest and the back.

Raphael's right shoulder is two inches lower than his left one

Raphael’s right shoulder is two inches lower than his left one so MTM doesn’t really help much in getting the perfect fit for him.

On the other hand, your super slim fit is one of the most aggressively skinny fits on the market. Of course, it has back darts but it’s super tight and it’s ideal for men who want that skinny tight look or are just very slim themselves, and can’t find a shirt that fits up to their standards otherwise.

Their slim fit is somewhere in between the super slim and the contemporary fit and it’s what 65% of European men buy from Eton. They also have a classic fit that doesn’t have any tapering or any darts.

Raphael's shirts are slim fit.

Raphael’s shirts are slim fit.

Normally, when I get off-the-rack shirts, the sleeves are typically too short but on my European size 41 which is about 16 inches, the sleeves are about 36 and a half inches long which is probably one and a half to two inches or about four to five centimeters longer than what I typically see in shirts now. If that isn’t long enough for you, they even have a very small section of extra long sleeves that you can get.

Also, because it’s a longer torso, it doesn’t come undone so easily which is something I appreciate. As I said, they’re really a great option if you’re looking for that super slim or skinny fit. I believe they’re not great for people who are on the shorter side who have maybe a little more weight on their hips and just don’t have a long torso.

Eton sleeves

Eton offers sleeves that are longer than typical shirts today.

Are You Getting the Value For Your Money?

In a nutshell, you get high-quality fabrics, you get lots of color options, you get lots of fit options. The workmanship is neat, the buttons don’t come off, and you can have this organic wrinkle-resistant treatment.

On the flip side, the buttons feel cheap, the collar stays can’t be removed, and in this price range, typically, you can find some hand contrast stitching in the shoulder area, for example, or like folded waterfall shoulders, which is not something you’ll find from Eton. You’ll definitely have to upgrade to something like Attolini, Finamore, or Kiton.

Are Eton shirts worth your money?

Are Eton shirts worth your money?

Why is Eton so popular among high-end retailers?

Just like any other business, a wholesaler or a retail store wants to make the most amount of money with the least amount of work. So, when in doubt, a retail store wants to sell you a shirt at a higher price because it has a higher margin and means more net profit for them than a comparable shirt that costs less.

Eton knows what the retailers need, and has put up a nice stock program.

Eton knows what the retailers need, and has put up a nice stock program.

Also, ideally, they want to tie up as little stock as possible because that requires capital, so they never want to run out of stock and always have a just-in-time delivery of the shirts they can sell to their customers. Of course, they also like to be listened to by the manufacturer, they want to be able to provide their ideas, and they want the customer to be happy with the fit, and they don’t want the buttons to come out for customers to be unhappy because returns are work and expensive.

Eton seems to figure out how to put together a nice stock program, how to keep their wholesale clients happy and it seems to check all those boxes and it’s probably one of the reasons why they have such a strong foothold with upscale menswear retailers.

Eton shirts have high-quality fabrics.

Eton shirts have high-quality fabrics.

What does it mean for you as a customer?

Obviously, you have the chance to try things on in person at a store to feel the fabric and to touch it. At the same time, you also pay more money for that luxury. I would guess that if Eton was a direct consumer company, they could probably sell that same quality shirt at around 50% of today’s retail price.

That being said, that is true for any direct to consumer traditional retail company, at the same time retailers have really helped Eton to establish a strong brand, to spread the word, and to ultimately sell more shirts, so it’s a win for the retailer. It’s a win for Eton, and a win for the customer if they actually like the shirt. But because everyone along the way wants to earn money, the retail price is as high as it is.

High-quality garments from Eton.

High-quality garments from Eton.

I think, if you as a consumer just look at what quality you get for your money, you really have the option to get a nice made-to-measure shirt, even a bespoke shirt in Europe with exactly the details you want for around the same price as a new Eton off-the-rack shirt. Of course, you’d also have to travel to Italy to get that unless you’re there anyway.

Fortunately, most bigger cities have local made-to-measure shirt shops in the US. Finding a true bespoke shirt is a big challenge and of course, last but not least, you don’t get that non-iron treatment that makes Eton special.

You also have the option to go with a local made-to measure store or a bespoke tailor instead.

You also have the option to go with a local made-to measure store or a bespoke tailor instead.

My Verdict: Is It Really Worth It?

First of all, I do not think that Eton makes the best dress shirts in the world. There are many other dress shirts and each and everyone has different needs and desires. If you want the ultimate amount of workmanship, they’re definitely not the best shirt. If you want the perfect fit, they’re definitely not the best shirt. If you want the best non-iron or wrinkle-resistant shirt, I think they are probably the best shirt you can buy in the market.

So, if an organic wrinkle-resistant treatment is important to you or maybe you don’t want to fuss with MTM and you want to see what you get, feel it, and touch it, then I think Eton is a good option and worth your money. Also, if you value unusual bold shirts with special prints, Eton can fill this niche market.

Eton is for you if you like shirts with bolder prints.

Eton is for you if you like shirts with bolder prints.

Personally, I find it valuable to have a few non-iron shirts in my closet because sometimes when I travel and I have to pack my shirts, I want to be sure that I don’t have to iron stuff all the time. So, yes, for me, they’re worth it for non-iron dress shirts 100%.

On the flip side, for linen or for casual shirts, I don’t like those bold patterns; I like more classic stuff, and I can find comparable fabrics and comparable shirts at a lower price elsewhere. So, in those cases, they’re not worth it to me.

If you like non-iron shirts, Eton is a good option.

If you like non-iron shirts, Eton is a good option.

I also sometimes like having the option to choose my exact fabric, maybe make a Winchester shirt out of it, and get the exact shape, fit, and style I want and Eton doesn’t give me that. Let’s say you want a Carlo Riva fabric or David and John Anderson, it’s not something you’ll find with Eton and you’ll have to go made-to-measure or bespoke.

Eton does have sales where you can get shirts at 40 to 50% off, and obviously, they become a much better value then. Still, apart from my non-iron shirts even at 50% off, I would rather go with an online made-to-measure company so you can get exactly what I want with a better fit at a lower price. If you’re on a really tight budget, you can find Eton shirts for relatively low prices in good shape on eBay still.

What’s your take on Eton dress shirts? Let us know in the comments!

Summary

Eton Dress Shirts: Are They Worth It? - Men's Luxury Dress Shirt Review

Article Name

Eton Dress Shirts: Are They Worth It? - Men's Luxury Dress Shirt Review

Description

We take a look at popular Swedish dress shirt brand Eton, their history, and how they're made, to determine if they're worth your money!

Author

Sven Raphael Schneider & Tyler Domecq

Publisher

Gentleman's Gazette, LLC.

Publisher Logo



Sometimes it can feel like maintaining a saine lifestyle is an overwhelming challenge that doesn’t fit within the realities of daily life. It’s tough to hold down a full-time job, eat well, train for a marathon, make homemade green juice, spend quality time with your family/partner, and meditate for an hour each day.

Coffee’s great too, but it’s best to start your day by re-hydrating with a full glass of water. Hydrating first thing in the morning helps to aid assimilation, enhance skin health and boost energy.

Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a simple way to get a little more physical activity in your daily life. It also strengthens and tones your legs and core while you’re at it !

A simple hack for saine eating ( and portion control ) is to make half your plate veggies at each meal. The veggies pack in essential vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients important for health and longevity. And, because they’re rich in fiber, they help to aid absorption ( aka keep you regular ! ) and keep you feeling full longer.

Using a sport tracker ( like the Fitbit, Apple Watch or similar ) to track your steps is an easy way to make sure you’re getting enough physical activity each day. We aim for 10, 000 steps daily, which has significant physical and esprit health benefits. The Fitbit will also remind you to get 250 steps each hour ( another important measure of health

Conventional household cleaning products are full of harmful chemical ingredients that are not good for our health ( or the health of our kids or pets ! ). Switching to healthier alternatives is a simple way to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins in your home. See our Healthy Cleaning Guide for a complete list of recommendations, and what to look for when choosing safer household cleaning products.

Similar to cleaning products, conventional skincare and personal care products are formulated with toxic ingredients we should not regularly let absorb into our body’s largest organ. Reduce the toxic burden on your body by switching to non-toxic personal care and beauty products ( see our specific recommendations on deodorant, sunscreen, and green beauty products ).

Maintaining a saine gut has significant impacts on absorption, skin health, immunity, mental health and more. Taking a daily probiotic with a glass of water each morning is one of the simplest things you can do to boost your gut health ( which, in turn, boosts overall health in many ways too ). Learn more about the health benefits of probiotics ( and all the ways to get them in your diet ), and site our favorite probiotic supplement here.

Aim to eat real food that’s made of whole food ingredients you would have in your own kitchen pantry, or that your grandmother would recognize. ( Yup, this rules out most packaged food, sorry ! ) This is a little different than suggesting you eat only “health foods” ( many of which are increasingly processed ! ). “Real food” includes unprocessed foods like an apple, a cucumber, soybeans or a steak, as well as foods loosely processed from one ( or few ) real-food ingredients, like butter, olive oil, yogurt, tofu, etc. In other words, aim for foods that could be reasonably made in your own kitchen and avoid foods that can only be made in a lab.

Reduce the harmful effects of sitting ( like at your desk emploi ) by standing up and moving around for a minute or two every half hour.

Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for overall health, and sunlight is one of our best sources of it. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day—preferably in the afternoon, and without sunscreen ( read more about that here ). Not much sunlight in the winter where you live ? It might be worth supplementing with a vitamin D supplement and/or other food sources of this essential nutrient.

Houseplants help to cleanse your indoor air ( sadly, it probably needs it ! ), they’re pretty, and research even shows they improve mood, creativity and problem solving !

Aim to sweat in some way each day—whether that’s via course, biking, dancing, hot yoga, or any other physical activity you enjoy. See our Fitness Guide for more workout ideas, as well as tips and tricks for building regular physical activity into your daily life and a downloadable fitness planner you can use to outline your own custom sport plan to stay on track.

Green smoothies as a snack or simple, on-the-go breakfast are an easy way to get your greens in each day. Check out our curated list of healthy ( veggie-packed ! ) smoothie recipes for our favorite starter green smoothie recipe ideas.

“The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude. ” It’s true—mindset is everything ! Cultivate a positive mindset by recognizing negative thought patterns and countering them with positive thoughts or affirmations. Here are more mindset resources for positive thinking.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. But in addition to quantity, quality of sleep matters too ! Follow our tips on getting quality sleep—things like keeping your bedroom cool at night, avoiding blue light after dark, and more.

{Start each day with fulfilling activities that set the tone for how you want to feel—whether that’s inspired, relaxed, productive, or something else.

SHOP NOW

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *