Originally Posted by Nantucket Red
Put me in whatever category you want, but I've searched and can't find that discussion. I'm actually not sure which discussion it was. I hope you're not referring to something that got lost in the crash.
It was on Ask Andy, which I have also pointed out repeatedly.
OK, not that I expect this will convince anyone on the underlying question. But I do hope it will convince our resident flat-earthers to stop saying that everyone is too cowardly, or too in the pocket of Kabbaz, to say what they think about his shirts.
What are the things that make them better, in my opinion
1) The fitting process. He is the only shirtmaker I have tried -- and that includes all the NY makers, plus Charvet, T&A, Ascot Chang, and Borrelli -- to make a sample shirt. This is not your first shirt that you pay for and keep no matter how it turns out. This is a shirt made at his cost, for his purposes. He will make as many as he thinks are necessary. In my case he made two. For one client I sent to him, he made three. He keeps making samples until he is certain that anything that might be wrong with a finished shirt can be fixed without having to remake the shirt. Even then, if necessary, he will remake a finished shirt -- again at his cost.
As a side note to this: other makers make a paper pattern. I have seen my pattern at Geneva, for instance. But I have never seen anyone refine a pattern like Kabbaz. He will make changes to every edge of every piece of your pattern if he thinks it necessary. I believe, but can't say for certain, that this goes well beyond what most cutters do. AK brings the pattern with him to hotel fittings and makes all the adjustments right there in pencil while you are still wearing the shirt.
As I have said, I have gotten a well-fitting shirt from Geneva. The first one was fine, subsequent ones have fit better. But it the onus was on me to suggest changes to marginally improve the fit. They made every one of those changes, exactly as I asked for them. But had I not asked, they would not have been made. And I had to pay for every shirt in the process. With AK, you can put yourself in his hands, and get the same or better result. Which is what I did.
He has a greater willingness to correct mistakes than any maker I have worked with. For one shirt, I had asked for quarter stitching rather than edge stitching on the collar and cuffs. The shirt nonetheless came with edge stitching, which I had asked for on the prior shirt. I pointed this out and AK took the shirt back without saying a word. A few days later I got it back with quarter stitched collar and cuffs. Geneva has never made a mistake with one of my orders. But another shirtmaker that did refused to acknowledge the mistake or correct it.
Alex is also most accomodating to, shall we say, picky customers. As has been discussed before, he makes his sleeves differently. Most shirtmakers make a somewhat tight cuff and a slightly overlong sleeve. That way they pretty much guarantee that the sleeve cuffs falls to the same spot every time, even if the sleeve length is off by a fraction of an inch. It also prevents the cuffs from riding up as you move your arm. AK prefers to make shirt sleeves like coat sleeves, pitched and tapered to the hang of the arm, and at the precise length necessary. He takes care of the "riding up" problem through high armholes, some excess room at the elbow, and other little tricks I frankly did not understand. Anyway, we had a devil of a time getting my length correct. I don't remember how many times he "fixed" it, but he kept at it until we were both completely happy.
Yes, it's all sewn by machine. But the machine stitching is the neatest, tightest, and smallest I have ever seen. More stitches per inch than I have ever seen.
The seam allowances are different: slightly wider, but also flatter and smoother. They almost never pucker in the wash, and in the rare instance when they do, the puckering presses out with ease.
The buttonholes are also machine made. But they are tighter and neater than any machine made buttonholes I have ever seen. AK says he has an old buttonhole making machine that is no longer available. We have a disagreement about which is more pretty: I say an Italian handmade buttonhole is prettier; he thinks his are. I disagree with that, but I agree that his are prettier than any other machine made buttonholes that I have seen.
The interlining is a higher quality than the ones others use. A good interlining needs, in my opinion, two contradictory qualities. It should be soft and pliant, yet sturdy and gutsy enough to hold its shape. AK's fits the bill. I know that he pays more for what he uses than other shirtmakers pay for what they use. When Geneva was asked by another client to buy a roll of the interlining that AK uses, they balked.
AK prefers to fuse his collars, and he does it in an unusual way, varying the size and shape of the underlining from the top piece. Differing temperatures are also used in the process to build in a very nice roll to the collar leaf.
The buttons are the best I have ever seen, on any shirt, and are attached better than I have seen on any shirt. They are thick MOP, with nicely rounded edges, that easily pass through the buttonholes -- unlike those Altoids that Borrelli uses. Each one is shanked by hand, with four wraps, and the stitching is like that for suit buttons.
The pattern matching is the most precise I have ever seen. A lot of makers who do a decent job get it right on large scale patterns, and simply don't try on small ones (where, to be honest, it doesn't matter nearly so much). With AK, he gets an exact match no matter what the pattern size.
I realize that none of this "proves" that his prices are "justified." The only thing I set out to "prove" is that at least one of his customers is willing to talk about what makes his shirts different. Oh, and don't forget: whether his prices are justified or not, I reiterate that I have decided I don't want to pay them. So any further outrage at Kabbaz prices should be vented in other directions.