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What’s a $4,000 Suit Worth? - Page 3

post #31 of 123
An experienced cutter and tailor on this board is of course welcome to correct me, but my understanding is that rock of eye places more emphasis on the fitting process relative to the other methods. The freehand method of drafting a formula is less "controlled," if you will, so it's necessary for the cutter to see how the first draft of the garment fits on the client, and then edit from there. With the other methods, the tailor is more likely to arrive at something reasonably controlled, and the image of what he's trying to strike in his head is more likely to overlap with what the fitter might have in his head. I don't believe that's so with rock of eye.

Put another way, if we were to have three people - the cutter, fitter, and client - each will come to the process with an idea of what the suit should look like. If we let the cutter draft the pattern through a block pattern (just to take one example), it's easier for to get an overlap between what's in the cutter's head and what's in the fitter's head. It's also very repeatable. The first draft tends to be in the same ballpark as it is for other clients. If we let the cutter draft it freehand - and this isn't to say he's more likely to cause errors - it's more likely that that he would benefit from seeing the jacket on the client himself, so that he knows exactly what needs to be edited. Fitters (who are not tailors) typically only have a very rudimentary understanding of tailoring, so they'll be able to account for some things, but not for others. Having someone like that on board is easier if you can work with a block pattern than if you go freehand.

That is my understanding anyway. I very much welcome corrections.
post #32 of 123

Nowadays, people are reluctant to shell out $4,000 for a suit - bespoke or not. Celebrities rarely buy themselves those suits anyway, most are gifted to them.

post #33 of 123
fascinating article trini, thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dddrees View Post

The mechanichal luxury watch manufactures faced this same challange from the late 60's to the early 80's when the quartz watch practically took over the industry. Many of the manufactures were forced out of business, and others were sold to bigger conglomerates. They eventually found their niche and they survived and have bounced back rather strong.


I hope your right about this skill as well.

interesting point. the difference here being that mechanical luxury watches fall into the jewelry category, where markups are huge. once they weathered the storm that was the quartz revolution, they were back up and running. what i wonder though, is why bespoke tailoring is different?

i cant imagine that the majority of people who pay 4k for mr frews suits, would not pay 6 or 7, or more. considering he is in the luxury business, which he undoubtedly is, it seems to me the pricing structure here is completely out of whack, when compared to other luxury items. be it RTW clothing, cars, watches or jewelry.

he should have a luxurious shop in manhattan or the such. sure it would cost more, but that gets added into the price, which is then "justified" to the customers by the garment they receive, and the ambiance and experience they are having. does anyone think when you buy a bvgari necklace that you arent paying for all the marketing, advertising, fancy boxes and store costs. of course you are, but that is part of the theory that is luxury shopping, and those who enjoy that, accept it.

it is very interesting to me that this would be different.
post #34 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by duggyald View Post

Nowadays, people are reluctant to shell out $4,000 for a suit - bespoke or not. Celebrities rarely buy themselves those suits anyway, most are gifted to them.

this is just wrong. there are far more wealthy people in industries other than celebrity, that are more than happy to pay that kind of money for a suit. some of whom frequent this site.

personally, if i had the money, i would go bespoke no question. would be much better for my body type.
post #35 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by duggyald View Post

Nowadays, people are reluctant to shell out $4,000 for a suit - bespoke or not. Celebrities rarely buy themselves those suits anyway, most are gifted to them.

 

Actually, bespoke is making a comeback after a long slump from the late 70s to the late 90s. It's one of the reasons for the existence and success of this site. It's just a shame there aren't so many of the bespoke gurus around anymore.

post #36 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by in stitches View Post

fascinating article trini, thanks.
interesting point. the difference here being that mechanical luxury watches fall into the jewelry category, where markups are huge. once they weathered the storm that was the quartz revolution, they were back up and running. what i wonder though, is why bespoke tailoring is different?
i cant imagine that the majority of people who pay 4k for mr frews suits, would not pay 6 or 7, or more. considering he is in the luxury business, which he undoubtedly is, it seems to me the pricing structure here is completely out of whack, when compared to other luxury items. be it RTW clothing, cars, watches or jewelry.
he should have a luxurious shop in manhattan or the such. sure it would cost more, but that gets added into the price, which is then "justified" to the customers by the garment they receive, and the ambiance and experience they are having. does anyone think when you buy a bvgari necklace that you arent paying for all the marketing, advertising, fancy boxes and store costs. of course you are, but that is part of the theory that is luxury shopping, and those who enjoy that, accept it.
it is very interesting to me that this would be different.

This is all true, but it is a huge leap for an artisan to make. I'll myself as an example, I make leather bags one by one, cut, hand-stitched and finished by me. I'm the whole team, sitting at a table (upgraded from living room floor) doing the work. At most, I could probably crank out 4-5 bags per week. And that's if they're simple to construct. I can usually do 1-3 bags.

Working in small batches increases your unit cost as I can't buy leather hides in bulk (first of all I don't have the capital to buy 1,000 hides or anywhere to store them). Same for brass fittings, thread, needles, dye, top finishes, etc. So if I were to ramp up my business, I'd still be constrained by my own ability to produce, it's a fairly fixed rate. So my only hope is that my quality continues to improve (until it plateaus) and that I gain enough demand through word of mouth that higher prices can be sustained.

And this part is important, once you pass a certain threshold of price, you begin to compete with different people. My first year I essentially worked for free and ended the year in the red (I'm supporting myself through traditional office job means) just so I could get traffic. It wasn't too difficult to sell product because my prices were very cheap compared to even non-luxury items. As my prices rise, I know that once I get into a certain zone, I will be competing against some very good and well known brands - can I hang in that arena at all? Probably not right now, so I won't go there.

That's where the artisan finds a hard spot. Mr. Frew might make really exceptional things, but if he continues to raise his prices, it becomes a question of who he's competing against. If he's competitive and has orders in the $4000 market, that doesn't mean he can compete against really big players who can factory produce items at the same price. Kind of a weird balancing act, you move when you can.

Basically, building a brand is a massive feat and not as simple as opening a store on Madison Ave. You need recognition, and to be seen as a status indicator - hence the success of branded items. So it would take a huge investment to create an operation similar to what you speak of, and he would be bottle-necked by production once again. He could toss out some of his values and split into mainline / diffusion line and have off the peg suits made in China for $1,500 to pay the bills while continuing his bespoke work, but it's a dangerous route to take.

Once that happens, if he finds success in it, it becomes very tempting to drop the quality altogether and just mass produce everything (you've seen it happen many times - it's an old story). It's a shame we (society) don't nourish artisans as much as we should.

Personally, I know that slow, one at a time, hand constructed production isn't the path to riches. But I do it anyway, just because I want it to exist. I may eventually give it up, but I hope to have a positive impact in a sea of mass manufactured disposables.
post #37 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by celery View Post
Once that happens, if he finds success in it, it becomes very tempting to drop the quality altogether and just mass produce everything (you've seen it happen many times - it's an old story). It's a shame we (society) don't nourish artisans as much as we should.
 


+1. This is one of the reasons I really like being in Japan - the Japanese still do value craft in all kinds of areas, even in such a hyper-consumerist society. Mass production and craft can co-exist but the latter needs more help.

post #38 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

That is my understanding anyway. I very much welcome corrections.

My understanding, as a long-time bespoke customer who has patronised quite a few SR tailors, is that ET is right and you are mistaken. To share but one example, when Mahon cut at Anderson, and was a partner at Steed, he did not travel to the U.S. to meet customers he routinely cut for (invalidating your claim that the vaunted 'rock of eye' requires a more involved fitting process with the original cutter.) And as Eustace has correctly noted, all the other big SR tailors also send their cutters on these trips, negating the idea that a block or draft-based system somehow makes the fittings easier.
post #39 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by celery View Post

This is all true, but it is a huge leap for an artisan to make. I'll myself as an example, I make leather bags one by one, cut, hand-stitched and finished by me. I'm the whole team, sitting at a table (upgraded from living room floor) doing the work. At most, I could probably crank out 4-5 bags per week. And that's if they're simple to construct. I can usually do 1-3 bags.
Working in small batches increases your unit cost as I can't buy leather hides in bulk (first of all I don't have the capital to buy 1,000 hides or anywhere to store them). Same for brass fittings, thread, needles, dye, top finishes, etc. So if I were to ramp up my business, I'd still be constrained by my own ability to produce, it's a fairly fixed rate. So my only hope is that my quality continues to improve (until it plateaus) and that I gain enough demand through word of mouth that higher prices can be sustained.
And this part is important, once you pass a certain threshold of price, you begin to compete with different people. My first year I essentially worked for free and ended the year in the red (I'm supporting myself through traditional office job means) just so I could get traffic. It wasn't too difficult to sell product because my prices were very cheap compared to even non-luxury items. As my prices rise, I know that once I get into a certain zone, I will be competing against some very good and well known brands - can I hang in that arena at all? Probably not right now, so I won't go there.
That's where the artisan finds a hard spot. Mr. Frew might make really exceptional things, but if he continues to raise his prices, it becomes a question of who he's competing against. If he's competitive and has orders in the $4000 market, that doesn't mean he can compete against really big players who can factory produce items at the same price. Kind of a weird balancing act, you move when you can.
Basically, building a brand is a massive feat and not as simple as opening a store on Madison Ave. You need recognition, and to be seen as a status indicator - hence the success of branded items. So it would take a huge investment to create an operation similar to what you speak of, and he would be bottle-necked by production once again. He could toss out some of his values and split into mainline / diffusion line and have off the peg suits made in China for $1,500 to pay the bills while continuing his bespoke work, but it's a dangerous route to take.
Once that happens, if he finds success in it, it becomes very tempting to drop the quality altogether and just mass produce everything (you've seen it happen many times - it's an old story). It's a shame we (society) don't nourish artisans as much as we should.
Personally, I know that slow, one at a time, hand constructed production isn't the path to riches. But I do it anyway, just because I want it to exist. I may eventually give it up, but I hope to have a positive impact in a sea of mass manufactured disposables.

this is a really good post, celery, and i wish you the best in your custom bag making. it sounds really cool.

to be clear though, i wasnt in any way saying that building a brand is some simple task wherein someone can open a manhattan shop, and boom he is the next gucci. i am well aware of the tremendous undertaking that is building a real recognizable valuable brand.

i was only saying that i think its a shame that the bespoke markups seem to be not on par with other luxury items. it may be because its more of an artisan thing. which is kind of what you said, and yes, i agree, it is a shame that artisans arent nourished as they should be, and people think that they like being poor and living in small spaces. im sure many do not.

you do also make a great point of considering the inventory you can afford to buy and store vs bulk buying and considering your competition as you enter a new price point, i didnt think of those. thanks for pointing it out.

all in all, i think this i fascinating topic, and i do wish there was a greater appreciation of these things, that allowed them to grow more.
post #40 of 123
If this guy can't make a living making $4k suits, how is Ercole in business so long charging only ~$2k?
post #41 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by taxgenius View Post

If this guy can't make a living making $4k suits, how is Ercole in business so long charging only ~$2k?

Because he's too expensive and Ercole is taking all his business?

Customer, Make me a suit.
Tailor A, That will be $4000 please.
Customer, HOW MUCH!!!?..bye bye.

Customer, Make me a suit.
Tailor B, That will be $2000 please.
Customer, Sounds reasonable, when will it be ready?
Edited by MikeDT - 9/5/12 at 5:31pm
post #42 of 123
Any thoughts on a factory-produced, custom-tailored suit? Have the pattern by drawn and cut for your body, and fit by the cutter at the end, but do the tailoring using mass production techniques, perhaps using excess capacity or time in a factory. I know certain tailoring traditions depend on having tailors trained a certain way in order to construct a suit from their patterns correctly. But if a custom tailor knows a factory's production line, and can customize his pattern-making to that line while giving you a custom fitting, that would seem like a more scalable way to do things, and it may even be cheaper.

I remember a long time ago, some people had their EG custom lasts done on the standard EG production line. It won't have all the custom bells and whistles, but it seemed like the fit was very close to the custom shoe.
post #43 of 123
A Y, jeffreyd is most qualified to answer. In my limited experience, what you propose is done and does work.

Ercole does not sit and cut/sew every suit himself. Apart from his own workers, he may outsource some of the work. At $2000 a suit with 400-500 in materials, rent and salaries, you need to have the capacity to do a good number of suits to make it worth it.
post #44 of 123
Thanks Ed. I'm hoping too that Jeffrey will say something about this. Do you know if Martin Greenfield's custom stuff is done like this? There seems to be several companies that are pretty close to this, like Oxxford, Kiton, and maybe Attolini, but they're just a step or two away from actually doing it.
post #45 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by imanewbie View Post

not many can afford a 4k suit.  To be able to want a 4k suit means you are really going out to some place special like really special like a major million dollar party of some sorts. Not even movie stars buy 4k suits, well actually they get made for the movies for themselves, but in their everyday wear and business meetings negotiating a movie deal they dont even wear a expensive suit.

Its mean to say, but he needs to find something else on the side to make some money for him to afford his own suit. A 1500 to 2500 suits majority fine unless your the 1% and even then when your 1% who gives a crap what you wear, right.

Sorry imanewbie. You are very wrong. I'm no movie star and I don't go to major million dollar parties. I'm just a working man, a real nobody. I wish my suits cost $4,000. They cost a bit more than that. I like wearing clothes that fit, and clothes that are my own. There is nothing special or extremely one-off and original in what I wear. You've probably passed me on the street and may have thought " nice suit". I'm not the only person on SF who wears bespoke suits from Savile Row. There are many other rather ordinary/normal non celebrity people here who probably spend more on their bespoke suits than I do.

Movie stars are the worst dressed people. They dress no better than tramps. And when they dress for the red carpet they are usually wearing clothes loaned to them for the occasion by a major fashion label just so that the star mentions the name on tv or in print. The clothes don't fit well...sleeves too long, big trouser break etc. in the old days movie stars always wore suits and always looked like stars. They patronized Savile Row. Now it's shorts and flip,flops.

The fact that the tailor cannot afford to make a suit for himself is because the opportunity cost is too high. If he spends 70 hours making a suit, it better be one he gets paid to make. As he doesn't go out and see clients, a suit for himself is a luxury he cannot afford at the moment.
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