Weak collar. As professional shirt makers, it’s one of our biggest pet-peeves, i.e. a collar that falls apart or collapses when worn with a suit or blazer, sans tie. No shirt is immune from the dreaded weak collar. Believe it or not, higher thread count / finer ($$$) weaves (i.e. 2ply 120s Poplins / Broadcloths) are more subject to this type of collapsing effect since these fabrics are very light and can’t hold the weight of a jacket.
So how do you solve it? We’ve typically recommended guys either a.) select a ‘weightier’ fabric like a Twill, Pinpoint, or Oxford since these can withstand the weight of a jacket or b.) select a Button Down Collar or add hidden buttons behind the collar points which prevents the points from falling. From our perspective, there really was no other solution that existed beyond this.
Through a referral, we were introduced to Million Dollar Collar (MDC) — an innovative product that prevents shirt collars from drooping or collapsing resulting in absolutely perfect shirt collar. The product itself is a flexible plastic/nylon insert that when installed in the placket, stiffens the upper part of the shirt, resulting in a crisp, more regal look. It’s perfect for those that love wearing their dress shirts with a jacket sans tie.
After a series of successful field tests on different shirts with our existing customers, we made the decision to add Million Dollar Collar as a new shirt design feature. Per below, you can now add this feature to every one of our shirts via our Custom Shirt Designer.
Deo Veritas is proud to announce our partnership with Million Dollar Collar. We spent time with it’s founder / inventor — Rob Kessler on a Q&A to learn more about the product and his journey as an entrepreneur.
Can you give us a bit of info regarding your own personal background?
I’ve always been a ‘tinker-er’. One of those kids that would break something messing around and I would have to quickly figure out how to fix it before I got caught. It worked more often than not. I worked full-time though college and graduated in 4 years. After College I got into real estate which I loved until the crash. I decided to start a clothing company in 2006 when graphic T’s were every where. I was being over charged by screen printers, so I bought all the equipment with a friend and he taught me how to screen print t-shirts. That business quickly expanded from my basement to a 6,000 square foot building. Being in the clothing business gave me the confidence I needed to start my current venture.
Can you describe the ‘aha’ or ‘light bulb’ moment that occurred when you developed the idea behind Million Dollar Collar?
Absolutely. My wedding day. I was looking at the pictures from my casual beach wedding. Barefoot in the sand, pants rolled up, and for course no tie. Before I could say “I Do” my brand new, freshly pressed shirt was a crumbled mess, and I looked like a slob on the biggest day of my life. I remember tugging at it all day long, just for it to fall down minutes later. After we returned home from Jamaica, I began cutting open shirts and testing every single type of plastic on the market.
Weak collar is how we describe it. How do you typically describe the problem that MDC solves?
We call the weak collar, “placketitis” — the sinking, wrinkling, and folding of the placket of a casually worn dress shirt, and no one is immune. A lot of times, I’ll take a picture of a guys shirt and show him exactly how his shirt looks and then have him compare it to mine. Almost instantly they go “yeah, I hate that!” Then I can show them how it gets hidden in-between the layers of the placket, after of course, I explain what a placket it, since almost no one really knows.
From our standpoint MDC is very novel, yet surprisingly so. It doesn’t appear that you have any real competitors in this space. Any idea or thoughts as to why a product such as MDC has never existed before? How did guys solve this problem?
I wonder that myself. I think that since off the rack dress shirts have basically been made the same for 100+ years, and 90% of shirts come out of 1 of 2 factories, there is just this archaic mentality about it. Most brands I talk to say either, “My shirts don’t do that” or “That’s not a problem for our customers” The fact is, it wasn’t really a problem even 10 years ago, but studies now say that nearly 90% of dress shirts will rarely if ever be worn with a tie. All dress shirts have a fundamental weak collar design flaw, the collar is too heavy for the placket to support. So unlike every other attempt to fix the problem, we focused on reinforcing the placket instead of some variation of a collar stay. The biggest one I hear is “we use Wurkin Stiffs” the magnetic collar stays. I like them too in addition to Million Dollar Collar because they add more weight to the collar as it does not reinforce the placket in any way.
How difficult is it to install MDC on an existing shirt?
Put it this way, I taught myself how to sew and I can do any shirt in under 10 minutes. But the tailors I talk to laugh at my time and say more like under 5 minutes. The insert itself is a light, flexible piece of plastic that is not at all visible when installed in the placket. After it’s done, you’re guaranteed to give you a perfect shirt collar that will never collapse.
It looks like more and more, you’re also working directly with fashion brands to have the product ‘built in’ to shirts prior to purchase. Is that part of a larger effort to grow the company across different verticals?
That has always been a channel for us, and after we launched and met with many major brands and were told to pound sand, we changed our approach. We focused on the end users to prove the concept. In our first 2 years we will have sold over 125,000 sets of Million Dollar Collar to image conscious people in 90 countries. Admittedly, that was the hard way. Someone orders from our website, we mail them the stays they typically say “Now what? I don’t know how to sew.” Every order comes with detailed instructions and our first 10,000+ customers were forced to walk into a tailor shop or dry-cleaner and try to convince them to give it a try. There were certainly some bumps in the road ironing out that process. Our focus now is to work with smaller brands and to build that installer network. We now have nearly 600 locations on our map of registered installers. As this phase grows, we know the big brands will come knocking, eventually.
From the side of a MTM shirt maker, we love the product as a perfect shirt collar is what many of our customers are after. We’re frequently asked by customers about this issue (i.e. weak collar or ‘placketitis’) and we typically direct guys to select heavier fabrics that have a more rigid structure (i.e. twills / oxfords). It’s great to now have a solution for other lighter weight fabrics as well. How do you see MDC appealing to those in the custom dress shirt space?
We see it as an incredibly simple upgrade. Just like different cuffs and button placement. With a simple question, “are you going to wear a tie with this shirt? No? Great, we have the product for you.” Custom dress shirt companies deal with clients on a much more personal level and that gives them the unique opportunity to have a conversation about Million Dollar Collar and the clients specific needs. We’re excited to partner with custom dress shirt companies such as Deo Veritas and hope MDC crushes it!
Where do you see this product and the company going over the next 2-3 years?
Our focus now is certainly growing the awareness of the problem (i.e. weak collar) and our unique solution to give guys a perfect shirt collar on every shirt. I am going on a major PR push in 2018, so it will be well known who we are and what we do. We want to build a really strong installer network so anyone in the world can have access to upgrading Million Dollar Collar with a simpler 1 step process. We have a couple of department stores and bigger brands we are talking to, so that will be coming down the pipeline. Overall, it is a very exciting time to be in business and we are loving the challenges that each day presents.
Interested in designing your own custom dress shirt with Million Dollar Collar?
Get started here!