Originally Posted by DocHolliday
I'm going to set aside the jokes to address what I see as the white elephant in the room: I suspect there's not much need for an in-depth discussion/detailed pics on Kabbaz's shirts because there's not much to say or see.
There seems to be an implied expectation that there's something almost magical about the $1,000 shirt. It's as though some folks want the shirts to be woven of gold and held together with unbreakable thread. But I imagine a photo essay would show us a shirt that looks much like many other single-needle stitched, machine-sewn shirts of good quality.
Here's the rub: We've already stipulated that cloth quality is beside the point, and we all know the role personal preference plays in shirt fit. So what does that leave us to discuss about Alex's shirts? If the seams are sewn well, if the collars fit well, if the client is happy, there you go. I don't mean to speak for Alex, but he's repeatedly said the value of his services isn't just the shirt, but his commitment to pleasing the customer and the long-term service he provides. His customers pay for his ability to meet their wants and needs, and, honestly, the prestige of wearing his costly shirts. A photo essay isn't going to reveal any of that.
Some folks seem to want someone to come along and prove that one of Kabbaz's shirts is worth $750 or $1,000. Well, I'll say it: They're not. At least not to me, and I can say that without ever having owned one. But Alex's regular customers clearly feel the opposite, and that's fine. I don't think Kiton suits are worth their price, or Borrelli MTM shirts, or Berluti shoes. Ultimately, Alex's shirts are products the same as these. There's nothing supernatural about them; in the end, they're just shirts. Reasonable people can disagree on the value, just as they can disagree over Paris v. Geneva.
With that, I'll step down from my soapbox.
Perhaps some of you guys have enough shirtmaking knowledge to tell me what I'm missing here. If so, in all seriousness, please do.
First of all, there's probably no useful objective metric for what makes one shirt 'better' than another (in an absolute sense), but there are certainly various qualities and features that are more costly than others. Second, just because we can't come up with one universal and objective metric doesn't mean there aren't some
metrics that might be helpful for some
Merely saying that a Kabbaz shirt is worth what it's worth bypasses both these concerns. Obviously, everything sells for its market price--otherwise the price would be lower. Yet, that doesn't stop us from determining what's 'worth it' and what's not. We do this by looking at exactly what elements contribute to the market price. Some elements are more valuable to some people.
So, as applied to cars: is a Ferrari F430 'better' than a Honda Accord? According to my thinking, this isn't an intelligible question. But the F430 is certainly faster
, and for some, that matters. It also costs more to make a car go faster, so the price can be partially explained.
As applied to shirts, I'm not sure my Anna Matuozzo shirts are any 'better' than a $200 Paris/Geneva shirt. But, there are certain features in a Matuozzo shirt that are certainly more costly to implement, namely the hand-stitching and fabric quality (she charges the same price for all fabrics, including Riva and the like). Given even this basic level of transparency, one can understand why a Matuozzo shirt costs so much, even if he doesn't think it's worthwhile.
The problem with talking about Kabbaz shirts is that it is much less transparent why
they cost so much. The shirt is completely machine-stitched, except for the buttons and buttonholes. Now, great care may go into the machine-stitching, but I wonder how much added cost there is associated with this greater care. It's simply less obvious than what goes into a hand-stitched shirt. As I understand it, Kabbaz offers a very involved fitting process--and that's great--but won't most of the world's great shirtmakers do the same? They aren't charging a grand for a shirt. But who knows? Maybe Kabbaz is the world's best fitter.
I have never seen a Kabbaz shirt in person, and its supposed benefits are not appreciable in pictures or description. Does this mean the shirts suck? No. It just means their value is less discernable. I don't condemn Kabbaz for his pricing. Good for him if he can get what he charges. But I also see no reason to assume his shirts are really that great either.