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Price versus "quality" in clothes

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I was reading the thread "How do others rate Allen Edmonds" and the following statement grabbed my attention:

Quote:
Originally Posted by faustian bargain
to add to the price/cost opinions, i would say that AE's are right at the knee of the curve where it moves into the territory of diminishing returns. (not that the returns aren't real, just that they are less and less affordable.)

I began to wonder if anyone felt that other clothing makers fit the same characteristics as AE. For example, are there any suits that fall at the "knee of the curve"? Shirts? Ties? etc.

On a more personal level, I consider AE's to be within my budget and would appreciate any recommendations for suits etc. that might fall within this price scale (e.g. I have no idea what the price of a suit of "AE" quality would be).

Thanks in advance, and I apologize if this question has been posed before (my meeger searching skills were not fruitful).
post #2 of 11
I think that the 'knee of the curve' favorites (all only if you get them at a discount) are: * Hickey-Freeman suits @ $500 on sale * Corneliani from Polo @ 400-500 on sale/at discounters * Oxxford on Ebay (usually underpriced - and really well above the 'knee' in true value and at full retail) * Canali @ discounters I am sure others can add a few. For shirts, the 'knee' depends in part on the fit that you prefer. I think that Ike Behar shirts are decently made and fairly priced, I know that Talbott BOC shirts get good reviews, and Faconnable shirts look good if you can ditch the damned tag on the front.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the recommendations.

For shirts, I prefer a more "athletic" fit as I have wide shoulders and a narrow waist (otherwise I end up looking like an amorphous blob).
post #4 of 11
I'd suggest Corneliani mainline. The Polo stuff Duveen mentions is a good deal, but you can find full-canvas Cornelianis at the same price (or less) with some regularity.

For shirts, my personal mark is Jantzen.
post #5 of 11
I would have to rate W.W. Chan as being in a pretty "sweet spot." They offer semi-bespoke (fully bespoke if you are in HK) for about the price of reasonably decent department store RTW.

Of course, I tend to favor A-E for my feet and Chan for my upper body, so what can I say?
post #6 of 11
Chan is a good 'sweet spot' given the customization, but the cost is definitely not low. They are 'sweet spot MTM/custom'. One can easily find 'sweet spot RTW' for less if one is not hard to fit/finicky.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duveen
Chan is a good 'sweet spot' given the customization, but the cost is definitely not low.

As Mrs. Vintage Gent is very fond of reminding me.
post #8 of 11
Unfortunately, with suits, one must consider a couple extra variables above price and "quality" which make a sweet spot (or "knee of the curve") that much more subjective.

Price and quality we know about, but then there's fit, and the issue of whether a particular maker's available styles suit you. I don't mean to suggest these aren't issues with shoes as well, just that they are far less important issues.

For me, fit is the biggest obstacle as very few makers stock extra-long suits. It rules out the normal bargain stores and most sales completely, and makes the jump to M2M that much more attactive/worth it. As a result, my "sweet spot(s)" are probably significantly different from one who can wear more OTR stuff.
post #9 of 11
The sweet spot for suits really depends upon where you do your shopping. If you shop on eBay, Oxxfords are ridiculously under-priced relative to their quality, but Oxxfords don't fit me well, so it's not a deal for me. I've never ordered from either, but from what I've seen, Chan and Jantzen are definitely sweet spots for MTM suits and shirts, respectively. If you're shopping in B&M stores, I would guess Hickey Freeman is a good value. It's easier for me to give you tips on what is usually overpriced, rather than what is underpriced. Typically, anything that says Hugo Boss, Kenneth Cole or Armani will be over-priced, whether on eBay or in stores. This is just my opinion, of course, but I think better deals can be found for those quality levels, unless the price is much, much cheaper than usual.
post #10 of 11
I think Samuelsohn is one of the best buys you can make at retail price. They're also very flexible with what they can do through their MTM program if you want more options. I don't think people telling you to buy this at discount or that off ebay is very helpful because many of us are not in cities like NY where discounts are fairly easy to obtain. And in most cases, you can't necessarily get what you NEED at discount, even if you do find stuff in your size. Don't get me wrong though, some of the guys on here are really good at finding a deal and i'm sure many appreciate their efforts.

I think Samuelsohn (at retail price) would be very much in-line with an AE-type budget. You've likely just missed their spring trunk show, but if you buy during those events they waive the MTM mark-up. Full-disclosure: I don't actually own any cause I'm a Borrelli man, but my guy at Harry Rosen buys them almost exclusively and they always turn-out really well on him. I've seen others in the store wearing them as well and they always look sharp. You won't get the really high armhole of a neapolitan jacket, but it's better than a lot of what's out there as well.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duveen
I think that the 'knee of the curve' favorites (all only if you get them at a discount) are:
* Hickey-Freeman suits @ $500 on sale
* Corneliani from Polo @ 400-500 on sale/at discounters
* Oxxford on Ebay (usually underpriced - and really well above the 'knee' in true value and at full retail)
* Canali @ discounters

I am sure others can add a few.

For shirts, the 'knee' depends in part on the fit that you prefer. I think that Ike Behar shirts are decently made and fairly priced, I know that Talbott BOC shirts get good reviews, and Faconnable shirts look good if you can ditch the damned tag on the front.

I always thought these knee of the curve things should apply to retail. I mean, if you have a source of Edward Greens or Grenson Masterpieces for like $200, that's a pretty good knee of the curve.

Anyway, at $300, and limited to full retail, AE is probably the knee of the curve. The $150 dollar shoe (say, a J&M or Bostonian) is about half as good as AE, functionally. It won't last as well. But the $600 C&J Handgrade isn't functionally twice the shoe the AE is. The extra $300, probably $20 is better functionality, and $280 is better aesthetics.

As for suits, it would depend on whether you need the canvassing or not. If so, I would probably go with something like Samuelsohn, if you can get it. I think it is still available under $1000, fully canvassed.

Suits are tough, because they're more subjective, because a good fit is harder to achieve.
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