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SHOPPING : Online Luxury

November 15, 2009|Max Padilla

The Internet has changed the way Americans shop: Online retailers compete with mom-and-pop shops on inventory and pricing. Inversely, the Internet also enables a small regional company such as Hamilton Shirts to sell its wares to a broader clientele.

Hamilton Shirts is a family-owned, 126-year-old manufacturer in Houston that caters to Texas ranchers, oilmen and Fortune 500 chief executives. Since the 1980s, Hamilton has made private-label button-downs for Barneys New York, for which it still produces a Hamilton Bespoke collection of luxury tailored shirts.

In 2008, Hamilton Shirts launched a ready-to-wear collection called 1883 that's available only online or in its Houston flagship. Owner David Hamilton says he sells Hamilton 1883 online to keep prices near the wholesale level. Hamilton 1883 shirts are made by hand from high-end Italian or Swiss fabrics in the family's 30-person U.S. factory.

"It doesn't matter where the shirt is made, but if the shirt offers more for the money," says Hamilton, who's headed the company for six years after working in finance. "Hamilton 1883 is a straightforward, simple shirt that's made better, with interesting styling, materials and construction."

Fourth-generation Hamiltons David, 31, and his sister and co-owner Kelly, 34, also readily embrace e-commerce and blogging. The brand recruited high-profile bloggers such as A Continuous Lean's Michael Williams, UrbanDaddy's Paul Underwood, Construction Graffiti's Jack Spencer and the GQ Eye's Corey Seymour to model the fall collection in an online look-book.

Hamilton 1883 stocks six basic styles in 23 choices of fabric. The traditional Oxford is the most popular.

The shirts go for $165 for short sleeves and $185 for long sleeves, with details such as pen pockets, Western-style yokes and contrast stitching. For next spring, Hamilton 1883 is expanding its range of plaids.

Based in muggy Houston, Hamilton 1883 makes styles that easily adapt to balmier climes such as Southern California. A utility-style shirt comes with roll-up tabs ($185). The short-sleeve shirts, including a pullover model, look contemporary and are constructed from a cotton fabric that manages to be lightweight and breathable but not see-through.

"It's hard to find a good short-sleeve shirt," says Hamilton, ever the straight-talking Texan.

www.hamilton1883.com

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SAMPLE SALES

Ed Hardy Friday through Nov. 22: Denim-heavy sample sale offers prices reduced from wholesale on Ed Hardy, Christian Audigier, Z-Brand and L'Ecole des Femmes for men, women and children (starting at $20). Major credit cards accepted.

6315 Arizona Place, Los Angeles. (310) 670-2290. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.donedhardy.com

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OPENINGS

All Saints Today: Cool Brittania offshoot makes its U.S. debut with a Robertson Boulevard flagship, to be followed by stores in Miami and New York. All Saints carries women's and men's fashion (much of it priced around $100 to $200) including denim, knits, outerwear, suits, T-shirts plus kid's clothing and housewares.

100 N. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. www.us.allsaints.com

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EVENTS

Morgane Le Fay Trunk Show Monday through Thursday: New York-designer holds two-day Spring 2010 previews at Malibu Country Mart and Montana boutiques, with a special 15% discount on all stock during each event. Prices range from $180 to $4,200 for Morgane Le Fay's frothy creations.

23410 Civic Center Way, Malibu. (310) 317-4447. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

1404 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 393-4447. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. www.morganelefay.com

Vintage Swap Party Monday: Vintage fashion connoisseurs are invited to a swap party hosted by What Goes Around Comes Around boutique. Bring up to four closet collectibles and exchange with like-minded fashionistas for more styles. Complimentary drinks and music provided by DJ Magdalena. RSVP to ghwang@thinkpublicrelations.com.

1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 836-0252. 7 to 9 p.m. www.whatgoesaroundnyc.com

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max@maxpadilla.com

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