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Bespoke Suitmaking Etiquette

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I remember hearing a while back that once you get shirts made by a custom shirtmaker, they more or less expect you to remain a loyal customer. Does it work the same way with suitmakers, or can you just order whatever minimum they have and move on with no hard feelings?

Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
post #2 of 19
Tom Mahon encourages his customers to try out other suit makers, because the various house styles are so different, and you may like something different. He noted that a lot of his customers seem to use both him and Kilgour.

--Andre
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad
I can't see why there would be any "expectations" or "hard feelings" either way. Remaining a loyal customer is something that should come from the fact that both sides continue to find value in the relationship. If one side doesn't, of course they should feel free to move on.
I do think, as some others have said, it's bad form to essentially "dupe" a tailor into doing measurements that s/he believes are for work to be performed in-house when you really intend to use them for internet orders, etc. But other than that, it seems to me that a tailor or shirtmaker, like a lawyer, doctor, plumber, or mechanic, can have no reasonable "expectation" of continuing patronage except to the extent it is warranted by the customer's perception of delivered value.

That's what I would have thought, but I'm pretty sure I remember hearing something about the economics (or politics?) of shirtmaking being such that even if you purchase the stated minimum, you're sometimes considered a blackguard if you don't continue the relationship.
post #4 of 19
I don't know about suitmakers, but I use a couple different shirtmakers. I use Hemrajani for online shirts that are a little cheaper. I also use CEGO in NYC and Gambert in Millburn, NJ. Didn't realize that I was supposed to be loyal to anyone (though, I'm not sure that by using 3 different shirtmakers that I'm necessarily being disloyal to anyone - they all serve slightly different purposes).
post #5 of 19
Tailors or shirt makers can both expect and hope to their heart's content. The next order will always depend upon consistency and their ongoing willingess to meet my requirements.

I have used 5 bespoke tailors over thirty years: Of these.

1 died
1 I dumped because his quality fell off after about 8 suits
1 I did not return to because he knew better than me what I wanted.


Of the other two one was Chan in HK and the other Gordon Yao. I have used Gordon Yao for 4 years now and will continue to do so. I have no problem with Chan - I was introduced to Yao and find his locatoion slightly more convenient on Mody Road in Kowloon as opposed to the second floor in a building half way up Nathan.
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quirk
Thanks for the feedback.



That's what I would have thought, but I'm pretty sure I remember hearing something about the economics (or politics?) of shirtmaking being such that even if you purchase the stated minimum, you're sometimes considered a blackguard if you don't continue the relationship.
That was just Kabbaz who suggested that. I don't think he speaks for all shirtmakers.
post #7 of 19
As one of the SF's resident Chaniacs, I bring a fair amount of loyalty to my relationship with Patrick, et al, having purchased three suits, a blazer and nine shirts over the past year-and-a-half. Certainly, it's a loyalty Chan has earned, having effectively and expertly rectified problems and making an excellent product. Still, it's a loyalty also informed by economics; it would be hard to find tailoring of similar quality and convenience at Chan's price point.

But that loyalty isn't absolute. If a sudden drop off in quality--or a radical increase in prices--were to take place, I'd have to consider investing my meager clothing dollars elsewhere.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
1 I did not return to because he knew better than me what I wanted.
Huh?
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jovan
Huh?
I think he means the tailor was overbearing and did not listen to what he, the customer, wanted.

A.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron
I think he means the tailor was overbearing and did not listen to what he, the customer, wanted.

A.


Thank you!
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quirk
That's what I would have thought, but I'm pretty sure I remember hearing something about the economics (or politics?) of shirtmaking being such that even if you purchase the stated minimum, you're sometimes considered a blackguard if you don't continue the relationship.
Quote:
Originally Posted by zjpj83
That was just Kabbaz who suggested that. I don't think he speaks for all shirtmakers.
Yes, that was just me. I was certainly not speaking for all shirtmakers, only those who keep creating new fitting samples - that the client is not required to accept - from actual Swiss and Italian high-count fabrics until the fit is perfect. Only all of those shirtmakers. And I believe they would all agree with me. All of them.
post #12 of 19
Why not use the same tailor again if you are happy with the work? You know what to expect for your money which is often better than trying to save a couple of dollars and receiving something sub par.

I also have issues with people using a better tailor to have a garmet made and then trying to have a cheap tailor copy the item. If you want to use the cheaper tailor then let him take his shot at making the item from scratch. If we want to be able to find high quality items we need to be willing to pay up for them at times.
post #13 of 19
Would Mr. Kabbaz go so far as to say that a new client who comes to him in good faith and places an initial order for the minimum, but later decides for one reason or another that he's not going to make a habit of it, is a "blackguard"?

Presumably, initial-order requirements and the like are intended to somewhat mitigate the financial risks he alludes to above. I am not defending the earlier poster (in a different thread) who suggested that a Kabbaz shirt, say, might be made with the sole and explicit intent of sending off to Asia to have knock-off produced using the first as a model.

But surely Mr. Kabbaz would understand that there may be a myriad of (legitimate) reasons why someone might be a one-time customer, as frustrating as that may be to him. Or not?
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Kabbaz
Yes, that was just me. I was certainly not speaking for all shirtmakers, only those who keep creating new fitting samples - that the client is not required to accept - from actual Swiss and Italian high-count fabrics until the fit is perfect. Only all of those shirtmakers. And I believe they would all agree with me. All of them.
i.e. they take the sample shirt that fits them well and then don't actually place an order for which they have to pay? Of course! I think anybody in their right mind would agree with you on that one. That's fraud.

As for actually placing an order and paying for shirts--or any bespoke commission for that matter--that does not lock you into anything. When a customer buys 6 shirts, he is buying 6 shirts only. And he is free to buy his next 6 from someone else.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by grimslade
Would Mr. Kabbaz go so far as to say that a new client who comes to him in good faith and places an initial order for the minimum, but later decides for one reason or another that he's not going to make a habit of it, is a "blackguard"?

Presumably, initial-order requirements and the like are intended to somewhat mitigate the financial risks he alludes to above. I am not defending the earlier poster (in a different thread) who suggested that a Kabbaz shirt, say, might be made with the sole and explicit intent of sending off to Asia to have knock-off produced using the first as a model.

But surely Mr. Kabbaz would understand that there may be a myriad of (legitimate) reasons why someone might be a one-time customer, as frustrating as that may be to him. Or not?
That would depend upon the reason. Additionally, "blackguard" is not my word. If for some reason I cannot satisfy the client's needs, he would be a fool not to take his business elsewhere.
There is also the other side of the coin. At times a client cannot satisfy my needs, those being primarily offering a bit of respect and paying his bills promptly. In that case, I would be a fool to allow him to continue.

In sum, of course there are reasons to break the relationship. I recently did just that after only one shirt had been made. None of that does any more than mitigate the fact that better makers and knowledgeable clients seek to develop life-long, or at least long-term, relationships.
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