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English Fabric v. Italian Fabric

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Gents,

I was hoping to gain some insight on this. What are the keys differences between English fabric and Italian fabric? If both fabrics are for suits and are 120s, what does the country of origin matter?
post #2 of 16
There is a lot more to quality than the Supers number.
post #3 of 16

There is a lot more to quality super numbers: right said

I think that you should touch and feel, understand the differences between an italian fabric and an english one. Without touching and feeling nothing is important.. for example, sometimes a Super 190 is not better than a Super 150 or a 160. There are lot of explenations here but I think we could almost write a book.

I had and have the opportunity to work with almost all the fabrics available on the market and supers are not always that great. Also some brands state a highed number super when it is not (or at least the quality is not that level). I work with Scabal, Cerruti, Holland &Sherry and so on...those are great but still, you have to understand them, and also understand that they are thinner, and have a very delicate fibre as high as you go.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. So the best way of judging is by touching the fabric. Are English fabrics more durable than Italian? Or is this an old myth?
post #5 of 16
The best way is to not attempt judging at all. It takes a lot of experience to get a feel for a cloth's quality. Rather, you should rely on the judgment of those who know better, whether a tailor or a more experienced bespoke customer, and the reputations of the various mills and merchants. Stick to the staple cloths from big name English merchants like Harrison's, Lesser (now owned by the former, but still a separate line), Minnis/John G. Hardy, Smith, etc., and you will not go wrong. While I've heard that many Italian sources have improved and can be considered on par with the English depending on the specific cloth, there is a lot more junk to sort through.

I don't trust my own ability to judge a cloth by feel, so I generally follow the advice above.
post #6 of 16
English tailors will often push you Italian fabrics while Italian tailors will often sing praises of English ones.
To me the fabric quality is similar fort he same weight. English fabrics generally have a better selection of types of design, patterns and finish that I like- so I wear it almost exclusively. But this is because I like navy blue or charcoal gray in plain or pin stripes with a matte and milled finish.
post #7 of 16

You should not pay too much attention on "myths". Just experience and feel the fabric as been said.

Italian fabrics have been improved a lot, the quality now is better than some years ago but you have to understand that some mills do some products better than other and others are not so great, and so on...

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musella View Post

You should not pay too much attention on "myths". Just experience and feel the fabric as been said.
Italian fabrics have been improved a lot, the quality now is better than some years ago but you have to understand that some mills do some products better than other and others are not so great, and so on...

This is not helpful to a beginner just diving into things. He will have no idea what to "feel" for. I reiterate my previous advice: choose well-regarded staples from respected English sources to begin with.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post


This is not helpful to a beginner just diving into things. He will have no idea what to "feel" for. I reiterate my previous advice: choose well-regarded staples from respected English sources to begin with.

 

I don't think it is a bad advice...feeling is all and it is a pretty central thing in tasting fabrics, then if he goes to buy a well made fabric he will understand what I'm saying, also because they will explain the craft of it. However you are right, starts with english sources to begin with, the italian fabrics are more "difficult" to choose.

post #10 of 16

Feeling is a surefire way to get the wrong fabric.  You will be going for exactly the fabrics you should avoid.  It is a learning curve, and best not learned by hand and feel.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. Really helpful info.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Petepan View Post

Feeling is a surefire way to get the wrong fabric.  You will be going for exactly the fabrics you should avoid.  It is a learning curve, and best not learned by hand and feel.

 

If you have a wrong hand that is it. But the "hand" on a fabric is all. Also to make mistakes can be the best way to learn.

When drinking wine, do you read its label and the maker before or you drink it first and then read?The palate needs to be teached as well as the hand. :)

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musella View Post

If you have a wrong hand that is it. But the "hand" on a fabric is all. Also to make mistakes can be the best way to learn.
When drinking wine, do you read its label and the maker before or you drink it first and then read?The palate needs to be teached as well as the hand. smile.gif

Of course, to enjoy wine one must learn by drinking it himself. But I would never recommend a novice buy an expensive bottle of wine without knowing what he is doing. If he must buy a bottle intended to be enjoyed later, after he has acquired a taste, he is better off relying on the advice of "experts" to begin with.
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musella View Post

 

If you have a wrong hand that is it. But the "hand" on a fabric is all. Also to make mistakes can be the best way to learn.

When drinking wine, do you read its label and the maker before or you drink it first and then read?The palate needs to be teached as well as the hand. :)

No, "hand" is not all, just a part.  Chances are the newbie will pick a super 150 and above that feels fine to the hand, and then have a ripped crotch or a ripped rear in 2 years. Or the newbie will sweat in a super wool instead of choosing open weave due to climate. 

 

As for wine, it depends on your requirements.  If you want to drink it now, or cellar and age it.  Even if you are buying for drinking, the taste is misleading, because some wine taste better after thorough airing but taste yuck right out of bottle. Also, the taste of wine alters with the food you are having, and is also different whether you are drinking at the start of the meal or at the end of the meal. 

 

You are correct, the palate needs to be taught as well as the hand. 

post #15 of 16

Good thread. I tend to buy English cloth only for the reason that I can be relatively sure of what I am buying. 2 by 2 in the warp and weft and in the super number stated. There is a lot of misinformation generated by suppliers of cloth, and salespeople. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story.

2 articles I read and recommend, one on Paul Grassant Bespoke Tailor in Paris blog re cloth spec's and the other an older article generated by the British government a few years ago highlighting the efficiency of the Italian Mills and therefore their good value. If you are worried about the durability of a cloth, get a second pair of trousers made. Rest the cloth as wool is hydro-scopic and takes up I think about 20% weight /of moisture.

Cloth handle is important however it can be a poor guide, a travel cloth will have an extra twist in the yarn which will take away the soft handle but give great performance.

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