COLLAR UP Shirts is an innovative brand with a sense of humor, style and sensibility.
“Comfort and fit are taken to the next level – with COLLAR UP undershirts. Bunching, twisting, wrinkles, bulkiness and discomfort – out,” says Bob Dilts, one of the founders and owners of COLLAR UP Shirts. He and his partners, Julie Larger and Gail Spence, have collaborated to create a product kindly referred to as the mullet of shirts, business up top…you know the rest.
“We’d like to think we have a decent sense of humor. Look, we are selling shirts here. More precisely, 21st Century Dickies,” Dilts laughs. “Most of our products don’t even have sleeves… So we’re not going to take ourselves too seriously… At the same time, we are serious about this endeavor. We are completely enthusiastic about our product. We created it, own it and believe in it – 100%.”
So how exactly did this half dress shirt, half undershirt come to be? While at the office, Dilts was wearing your standard dress shirt and sweater combination which was causing him incredible discomfort. According to Dilts, the twisted arms of the shirt, the way the shirt bunched and jumbled all the way around the waist when tucked in, not to mention the dreaded perspiring at work was enough to make him basically throw a tantrum in the office (remember that sense of humor?).
Luckily, his now-co-owner of COLLAR UP Larger was listening to him lament about his shirt snafu. She then revealed her secret to collared shirt success: wearing a blouse with the sleeves “hacked” off. Apparently, she had been buying blouses with full sleeves and cutting them off to create a comfortable yet professional look under blazers and sweaters. This ingenuity is what sparked the conversation from which COLLAR UP was born.
“Securing the proper fabric was certainly one of our more demanding – and time-consuming – challenges. With the first prototype from our manufacturer, the athletic, polyester, breathable fabric was perfect.
However, the 100% cotton dress shirt “upper bib” was not the polished look and feel we desired,” says Dilts.
The COLLAR UP brand is based on comfort, fit, profile and breathability so the team felt they could not cut corners on choosing the cotton or rushing the process as to not sacrifice the quality of the product. Partner and co-owner Gail Spence’s expertise as an amateur seamstress played a large role in the design of the aesthetic, functionality and construction of the shirt.
Currently, the shirt is targeted toward the male audience. Not only does it travel well, but Dilts says it also makes the wearer look 5-10 pounds slimmer due to the lack of bunching at the waist- something both males and females can appreciate. While Larger wears a size medium COLLAR UP shirt under a sweater and it fits her well, she says they do hope to expand the brand in the future to feature a selection for women as well. Prices range from $38-42. “We have an off-the-wall product. And we are not changing the world,” Dilts says of COLLAR UP. “But we do believe in our shirts. And if you buy one, we think you’ll believe in them, too.”