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How do you recognize quality fabric?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I've been purchasing "pattern order suits" for the last 2 years.   I choose from bolts of fabric, then the clerk measures me.  Slight adjustments are made to the pattern in according to my measurements. Usually, the bolts of fabric are divided into 4 categories, with prices differing between the categories.  In other words, whether I choose the "best" fabric in a category or the "worst," the labor costs remain unchanged. How do you recognize good quality fabric without a designer label attached (or despite a designer label being attached)? I stay away from the 100% polyester, and steer toward the 100% wool (with the exception of a recently purchased 70/30 wool/poly sportcoat and a 70/30 130's wool/silk suit). I've read about "worsteds" "super 100's"and "twists." Sometimes there is a border on the bolt of fabric that provides some information.  If the store clerk isn't around, I sometimes bunch up a handful of fabric and see how it bounces back.  I figure if there is a wrinkle in the bolt at the store, there certainly will be wrinkles in my suit after 3 hours at the office.  Does anyone have any other advice? Rules of thumb? Bic
post #2 of 10
The best fabrics are called super 170's, and so on. The best fabrics are usually manufactured by Zegna, Loro Piana, and Cerruti, and they sometimes have their company's names on the bolt itself.
post #3 of 10
Depends on for what the fabric is to be used for. A Super 170's suit might not last a long time, because the individual threads are so thin that they become much more fragile. (Then again, it might.) What you want to look for is the softness of the fabric, how it drapes over your hand, consistency of dyeing and finishing, and stuff like that. To get an idea of what the best fabrics look and feel like in the first place, go to a high-end men's store and feel through the swatches offered by the made-to-measure programmes by firms such as Kiton, Brioni, Zegna's Su Misura (sp?) line, and Oxxford. It's not something that I at least can really transfer over an LCD. And the bottom line, of course, is pick out something you like. I've seen some really nice fabrics. A friend of mine had Brioni make him a suit in a fabric they call Escoral or something like that, and I've seen a suit in Super 180's. I've seen swatches of Super 200's and even Super 210's, but opted not to use them for my lone custom suit. ("Soft as warm butter, and about as durable probably," is what my general thought process on the Super 210's was.) But I generally "settle" (for reasons of cost and durability) on Super 150s grade fabrics (15milmil15 in Zegnaspeak). I've found them durable (for a long time -- until 2001, actually, my only suit was a Zegna Napoli in 15milmil15, and I've abused the hell out it, but it's taken everything with aplomb), soft enough, beautifully draping, and hard-wearing. But there's nothing wrong with a good Super 120's (Testuto Exclusivo in Zegnaspeak, I think). I wouldn't go much lower than that for regular use. Keep in mind that the "Super" number only grades the fineness of the yarn. A crappy fabric can be woven from fine yarn. So don't let a Super number override your better judgement. While the three best known super-high-quality fabric mills are Italy's triumvirate of Loro Piana, Zegna, and Cerruti, but there are others that produce fine fabrics perhaps just as fine as the output of these mills. (I take it I'm not the only one here looking forward to beholding Signor Menichetti's design work with Cerruti's excellent fabrics.) Peace, JG
post #4 of 10
Quote:
A friend of mine had Brioni make him a suit in a fabric they call Escoral or something like that
Just curious: do you mean Escorial? That, along with vicuna, is the creme de la creme of fabrics today, and the (few) garments I've seen made from it run well into the stratosphere. They really are some of the softest, most lustrous clothes I've ever felt, though. Here's some info on Escorial: http://www.thelink.ws/features/mar01/escorial.htm
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the input. I do visit the higher end stores and see bolts of fabric that cost two or three times what I have paid. The place in my price range has never had anything over Super 130, and because I am relatively tough on suits, I have wondered if it might be too fine and not last too long. As for the names, my place stocks: Scabal, Enrico Coveri. Dormeil, and a few others others. The only Western name I recognize is Trussardi. There are also some odd Japanese labels, including "Beverly Hills Polo Club", Miyuki-tex John Andrews, Dai-to, and Spaulding (sporting goods maker?). There are also some bolts with no border at all-the last suit's worth in the bunch. As you can see, the thrust of my question really is "How do you tell when there is no label to guide you"? I tend to go buy feel-the softer and finer feeling the better. After two years, some fabrics have held up better than others, and I find that the fabric that may have looked elegant in the store sometimes looks a bit ratty in comparison to the fabric that initially looked like standard fare. Warmest Personal Regards Bic
post #6 of 10
Edited to kill two birds with one stone...
Quote:
Just curious: do you mean Escorial?
Yeah, I guess that was it. Sorry 'bout screwing up the spelling. If I remember right, the suit wasn't even THAT expensive. It definitely wasn't a twenty to twenty-five grand number like Kiton's fifty-hour suits....
Quote:
Scabal, Enrico Coveri. Dormeil, and a few others others. The only Western name I recognize is Trussardi.
Of those, I've heard of Scabal and Dormeil. Scabal is kind of like the smaller-scale Benelux version of Zegna, a firm that is first-and-foremost a cloth mill, but that also has a long tradition of ready-to-wear and made-to-measure tailored clothing. They don't really make an attempt to capture the ultra high end (I don't know if they even put out a Super 150's-class fabric, and I know they don't go higher than that), but with that in mind I could see them putting more attention to detail into their Super 120s and Super 130s-class fabrics. Dormeil (I think I misspelled that) is a French cloth mill. They supply cloth to some of the big design houses in France, such as Yohji Yamamoto and Comme. Can't offer more info, because I'm not really up on things Froggy. I'll ask some French, Senegalese, and Ivorian friends if they have more info. Trussardi, I'll be honest, I only know from their jeans, which are expensive and unexceptional to my eyes. I didn't know they were a cloth mill. Peace, JG
post #7 of 10
Trussardi is "by trade" a leather goods manufacturer which started off in 1910 as glove maker. By now they have ventured into all kind of things fashion and accessory-wise, but cloth manufacture isn't one of them. Nobody has mentioned the famous English cloth mills like Holland & Sherry, Hunt & Winterbottom, Crombie etc.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I will take a look tomorrow, but I am relatively sure that the name on some of the cloth is Trussardi. -Bic
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Trussardi is "by trade" a leather goods manufacturer which started off in 1910 as glove maker. By now they have ventured into all kind of things fashion and accessory-wise, but cloth manufacture isn't one of them.
If Trussardi is not manufacturing cloth itself, then it has licensed its name to cloth and clothing manufacturers in Japan. I see the name on finished clothing at higher end department stores, and on the bolts of fabric at the tailor. Bic
post #10 of 10
In these days when cigarette manufacturers put their name to clothing, fashion designers do watches and everybody has their little fingers in everything, it is quite possible. I don't know, and I couldn't find anything about fabrics on their web site: www.trussardi.it. The bottom line is: "Who cares?"
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