A few thoughts:
here is my definition of a tailor: a tailor is one who is trained in tailoring, preferably able to assemble a complete garment from drafting the pattern to attaching the buttons. I think that a true tailor ought to draft the patterns, cut the material for the garment, and do all the work on the premises. I think that it is perfectly acceptable for workers to assemble the garment, provided again, that the work is completely done on the premises and not outsourced. I do not consider Alan Flusser a tailor. Jon Green is probably not a tailor; I imagine that he provides direction in styling and employs people capable of drawing patterns and sewing the garments together. I suppose that if one is happy with the garments of Green and Flusser then that is what is most important. I would imagine, though, that I would feel more comfortable about getting my money's worth if the store-front-man were actually involved in the process other than to guide me through the fabric and style choices; what I mean to say is that I feel with Flusser that I would be paying more for his name than the garment as he does not even cut the pattern. If I were to have a suit made I would probably have one made through Oxxford or seek out some obscure tailor's services. Oxxford's cutters must be excellent as Oxxford suits/jackets have probably the best pattern matching that I have seen.
By that definition almost every Savile Row firm is devoid of tailors.. It is the norm to outsource work - why do you think that Huntsman makes such a big deal about all their work being done in-house? Because they are one of the very few who do not outsource. Should we automatically assume then that all the other firms are worthless? I don't think so.. Any firm that deals in any kind of volume is going to have to divide the workload. There is no other way to do it. They could employ a number of tailors that all make suits individually. But that would be inefficient and would make for an inconsistent product. It seems that even Marc's tailor, Raphael (who sounds quite wonderful - I hope to meet him someday) doesn't do ALL the work himself, as Marc has said he has an apprentice. I would agree that it would be best if the cutter measures you, and that the cutter has training in all aspects of the trade. But even if that is the not the case, I don't think the result is necessarily an inferior suit, at least not in every case. There are shades of grey between ready-to-wear and a bespoke suit that is made from start to finish by a single master-tailor. And I'm sure many of us would be quite happy to find ourselves somewhere in between - to own suits that are made to our measurements by a team of specialists. About Boyer: Even if it could be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he does take free suits or discounted suits from people he writes about - what of it?? Take the article that sparked this thread. There are ten tailors listed. Do you propose that he should buy, with his own money, suits from each tailor in order to write the article?? That could easily run him $40,000 - $50,000. In that case the article would be a work of charity, and he would be a philanthropist, not a professional. Â I think an examination of various periodicals that revolve around the review of products will reveal that most all those publications do not actually pay for the products they review - especially when the products are expensive. Do car magazines go out and buy one of each model of car so that they can test it? Of course not, it would not be a viable business if they did. Even if Boyer were getting free suits on a regular basis from those he reviews, it wouldn't bother me. It would just affirm his praise of the tailor - after all, if he thought their suits sucked, why would he want more of them, even for free?? Â Â Now, if a periodical or writer offered, up front, a positive review in exchange for free product, that would be a different matter entirely. Also, in the case of an honest reviewer, the tailor (or car manufacturer etc.) should not consider a positive review as a foregone conclusion. I think Steve's approach is best - if you didn't like the experience then just leave them out. I would be hesitant to label a tailor or store as no-good solely based on my own one-time experience. There is an interesting quote in Richard Walker's book Savile Row, An illustrated history
that bears on the subject: "In practice, there are almost as many variations from the norm as there are suits made. In a real sense, each Savile Row suit is a unique creation. Those who uphold the one-tailor one-garment system speak of personal pride and of the client appreciating this sense of individual work, but there are pitfalls, particularly when fine craftsmen are in short supply, Former Â Tailor and Cutter
editor John Taylor has used the same tailor for thirty years, yet he still grumbles about the occcasional disaster." If Mr. Taylor's tailor could screw up every once-in-a-while, even though he had been making for him for thirty years, how much easier would it be for a tailor to get it wrong on the first try? Bespoke clothing is a highly individualized experience. Just because I had a bad experience I wouldn't assume that everyone else has experienced the same. If I went to one of the tailors mentioned in Boyer's article and was not satisfied with the experience, I do not think I would be entitled to pin the blame on Boyer. Just because my experience wasn't good doesn't necessarily mean Boyer's wasn't. I would, however, be inclined to refuse the suit. About Steve: I agreed with BanksMiranda when he said:
Perhaps if you had an expense account, working for a large publisher and went to establishments without the intention of revealing yourself as a menswear writer you might get a better picture of their service. Â But that may not be possible.
To do that Steve would have to be sneaky and suspicious. I know Steve to a certain extent and I think he is far too friendly and honest to carry off an undercover investigation of every specialty store in the US. Nor am I convinced that such an endeavor would be of benefit. And I laud Steve's "Polyannish" attitide. Being suspicious of everyone and everything may save you money but it is certainly no way to live. Also, those of you who have read Steve's book may have noticed that he categorized the various custom-clothing shops found in his directory simply as "independents." He's given the reader their address and his general impression - it's up to the individual customer to visit and evaluate them further. In conclusion I must say I'm glad we are having this discussion. Nobody will deny that there are sharks out there in the menswear industry. There is only one thing to do if you don't want to get ripped off. Educate yourself. And I think we are doing that.