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A visit to Astor & Black - Page 10

post #136 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigtimebuck4 View Post

No, I have not. Of course neither have you. However, I have spoken to a tailor in the area where the company was initially based (Columbus) who worked with the founder (david schottenstein) and he thinks the garments are complete crap. I also have met many "real people" (not style forum readers) who have had terrible experiences. But who knows... maybe the production standards are probably similar to Canali... dozingoff.gif

I didn't make comment to how the garments are produced either.  I have spoke with people who've had good and bad experiences.  Anyone who "formerly worked with/for" I typically hold mild skepticism for, just a mechanism I cannot get passed. Good/bad for that matter.  And to be completely honest, "custom" tailoring, I think a lot try thinking it'll be a life changer, and boost their esteem?  It doesn't, and I think some are upset when they realize that.  It's the "buyer's remorse" factor.  I ONLY get my clothes cut to my measurements because I am literally a tough fit off the rack. I am 5'9', 140lbs (soaking wet) long distance runner with a metabolism that never slows down, and have a wing span of 6'2'.  I have pronounced shoulder blades and basically a runners body. Not to mention, during race season, I am a 29" waist, with a 32.5 inseam and fairly decent sized thighs.  I can literally find NOTHING that does not almost need to be completely re-cut top to bottom off the rack, and sleeves, forget about it. My tailor loves me.

post #137 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by OTCtailor View Post

The build quality is between canali and Tom ford. I know this because I am a tailor and I've been inside of just about every major suit brand. Is it full bespoke quality? no, but it also doesnt cost 8k for a suit.
Roughly 3 months ago, I was contacted by a&b to take a look at their clothier position as my area is unrepresented. I was already doing independent MTM and have always wanted to do that more than alterations because the money can be better for sure. I was hesitant about a&b mostly out of a want to stay independent but entering this business successfully is a real challenge and a&b certainly did offer a great platform. I knew they weren't a perfect outfit before I was even called in fact just go back a few posts and you'll see I kinda ripped them a bit BUT I decided to go with my gut and Go ahead and give it a shot working with them.
Well, I went thru their sales training and while there I got plenty of time to really eyeball their garments not only from a fashion and style perspective but also from a tailoring perspective. I'm probably the only guy who's ever gone thru their sales training that they let rip a garment open in my hotel room to eye up the insides.
The garments are built incredibly well. At the lowest price point of $650 for the basic plain weave grey, black, navy, navy and grey pin the suits are still half canvassed. The lapel edges are graded as well as the pockets. A step that must be done by hand. The collars are drawn on by hand. The lapels are auto machine pad stitched. The canvas is machine padded as well. Button holes are machined but hand sewn is an option. In fact, hand sewn canvassing is an option as well. The surgeons cuffs are completelyhand finished. Not the buttonholes, but the lining insertion and the way cuff is finished allows for a .5" up or down adjustment. that can only be done by hand. The linings are completely inserted by hand no matter the price point. I've not seen any problem with pattern matching. Pic stitching is done using a complett machine most likely. Working cuffs are standard. All linings are bemberg. There are no up charges for most of the personalized options. The price stated is the price you pay. All of this I was unaware of before my trip to their sales school. When I got all of this info it wasn't a very hard choice because the garments are very sellable. So far I've had very good success with almost every facet of their process. Do I notice little and/or big things that could use improvement? Of course I do. But I've worked on and owned canali. Worked on Tom James. Worked on Tom ford, brioni, and several other fantastic makes. The a&b garment can hang with all of those brands in fabric and build quality. In my opinion which you will all mostly say is biased, the make absolutely smashes canali and Tom James and is really right behind or on par with Tom ford and brioni. As long as measures are taken right and posture elements carefully discerned, the garment will fit just fine. Yes, most of the garments are made in China but it is a very high end facility. How do I know? Because I knew the factory liaison before I started with the company and I had seen a sample that came from this factory in a previous occasion. In fact, I handled the sample alongside another prominent tailor who regular comments in SF (I won't name him out of respect but how many are there on here???) while in NYC at a tailoring forum. We were both genuinely impressed. Imagine my surprise and comfort when I found out that this factory was making the a&b garments.
I can and may very well post pics of what I'm claiming here. Not really a big deal to do that. However, the nature of this forum and this particular thread is such that it probably won't matter if I do or don't because there is so much cynicism.
The a&b experience ultimately hinges on the clothier. The other major variables have really been nicely fine tuned. Production in the company has done a great job developing a streamlined fitting process. The merch team is headed up by one of the most knowledgeable guys in the entire industry who is owed a lot of credit for helping to build up Gladson who supplies tons of tailors and clothiers with quality cloth. We have some great clothiers as well as some maybe not so great but isn't this the story of every company out there with outside sales people?
So, am I trying to convert any of you guys to a&b clients? Not at all. But, if you want a very competitively priced garment that very well can match up with these other stellar brands, I can and will confirm to anyone that the cynicism and fear over past stories of a&b can be let go of today. Ultimately, if what I'm saying is a complete sham and I'm just touting this company because I work for them, then I am a genuine idiot because I know the industry well. I know how to tailor suits myself and I know of most of the best background platforms that allow the independent tailor or clothier to compete in the marketplace dominated by cheaper rtw and online MTM. Why when I know all of this stuff would I decide to put my name on an a&b garment of it weren't what I'm saying it is? No amount of pay can fix a damaged reputation from selling a junk product so please don't say oh they must be paying you a bunch. No, it's just a simple thing...the company has matured out of a rocky upstart.
Soon I will gladly post pics not only of the technical build related stuff but also of my own personal clients who I have fitted up with a&b garments who have given me permission to do so. I'll blur their faces out.
If I'm going to camp out on this forum, I might as well offer up an apologetics style defense of a company I decided to go work for. Doing so isnt for my sake or necessarily for the company. Its for all of you who deserve a quality product at a competitive pricepoint but are still reading and believing old negative stories. And if anyone has any questions, ill gladly answer any of them openly so long as the answer does not reveal closely guarded info. Those types of questions are probably not relevant to the discussion anyway.
One thing I will mention is that dormeuil Amadeus in our lines is not normally under $1000. I do not know the nature of the appointment and what fabric was viewed that selfmade went thru but we do have a kind of close out folder with shorter runs of higher end fabrics that price out at $995. There may be a dormeuil offering in there that hasn't sold out yet but traditionally a dormeuil Amadeus fabric suiting will be more than that. Quite a bit more, actually. It's priced just under Zegna, Marzoni, and LP.
Hope this and future posts help.

 

My tailor certainly disagrees, however that doen't make him right. From my experience handling both garments (not deconstructing) I wouldn't say the quality even approaches Canali, let alone exceeds it.  I have also met many people who have had negative experiences, sometimes waiting almost a year to receive clothing. Even in Columbus, where to company was founded and David is from, the reputation is poor.

 

I am curious though, when did you began working for A&B? I know the company was recently sold, who is the new owner group? Did you work for the company before or after the switch? 

post #138 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigtimebuck4 View Post

 

My tailor certainly disagrees, however that doen't make him right. From my experience handling both garments (not deconstructing) I wouldn't say the quality even approaches Canali, let alone exceeds it.  I have also met many people who have had negative experiences, sometimes waiting almost a year to receive clothing. Even in Columbus, where to company was founded and David is from, the reputation is poor.

 

I am curious though, when did you began working for A&B? I know the company was recently sold, who is the new owner group? Did you work for the company before or after the switch?

The two pieces I highlighted and outlined, are the two reasons I wanted to visit them and see for myself. I hold everyone's opinion with a certain amount of value, but like you said, just because your tailor has an opinion that doesn't make him right. Nor, does the guy that works for the companies opinion make him right either.  I want to see first hand, and take all the comments I have read into consideration, before I pass judgement. That is all I was saying initially.

post #139 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigtimebuck4 View Post

My tailor certainly disagrees, however that doen't make him right. From my experience handling both garments (not deconstructing) I wouldn't say the quality even approaches Canali, let alone exceeds it.  I have also met many people who have had negative experiences, sometimes waiting almost a year to receive clothing. Even in Columbus, where to company was founded and David is from, the reputation is poor.

I am curious though, when did you began working for A&B? I know the company was recently sold, who is the new owner group? Did you work for the company before or after the switch? 

I guess the quality breakdown could be viewed subjectively but it definitely surpasses canali. Keep your eyes out for pics later...

The company is owned by a private equity firm based out of the northeast US. they're called Castanea Partners and they are a firm known for owning and developing retail brands such as Donald pliner and others. I started working for them after the switch and after the HQ was moved to Miami Florida. All of those elements combined with who their senior leadership is certainly indicated to me that they're a company looking to redefine retail for men. They're not out to replace or necessarily compete with the bespoke process. Their branding is "custom" but I submit to you that outside this forum, that definition is very murky these days in the eyes of the typical consumer who, by the way, does not prowl these forums. When the garment ends up fitting their body, they don't begin to nit pick those details apart. I couldn't stop my clients from buying by insisting that its not truly custom like bespoke. They literally wouldn't care. So, from a corporate perspective, it's a non issue. If people don't want to buy them because they get hung up on that little point of debate then they don't have to.

So far as I've seen with my own two eyes after completing full sales cycles with multiple clients, for the quality it is at the price that it is with a person coming to you to get it done, there is simply no better option. I've seen brooks MTM using the same fabrics with the same methods of make and its an average $500+ more per garment. And you have to go there. And you're subject to "house style"
With a&b, if you want a Tom ford look alike with wide lapels, strong shoulder, enlarged pocketing proportions 5 button cuffs, you pay no different than if you want a more classic style. Their are subtle differences that I think are relative to where the garment is made but our production ppl work very closely with the factories to constantly improve those small things. These things I'm referring to are the details that only <2% would notice let alone care about. And this is the simple reality based on my experience as a tailor.
post #140 of 171
Took technical pics today of a suit I'm delivering tomorrow. Will take fit pics of same suit and post all pics at once...
post #141 of 171

Here are pictures of a garment that I cut open when I went to A&B's sales school

 

Note the Tom Ford-esque styling on this garment. The barchetta, the big lapels, and enlarged pocket flaps and 5 button cuffs

 

Here you see it's made from VBC 120s. Not sure of the original price because this garment was made well before I started with the company but I would estimate that it costs less than a BB Golden Fleece....somewhere in the vicinity of $1500-$1700...even less if it was purchased in a package.

 

 

Here is a picture of the canvassed inside. The layer of softer felt-like cloth is ripped away so you can see the whole canvas

 

Here you see that there no fusing in the sleeve hem

 

 

Here you can see the stitching in the lapel. Thousands of stitches to shape the lapel. The tips have fusing to stabilize them. The lapel edges is taped to prevent stretching. You can also see that the collar is machine padded

 

post #142 of 171

Looking forward to this discussion after OTC posted pics lurker[1].gif
 

post #143 of 171

Here are pictures of a finished garment that was then fitted on the client. I have his permission to post these pictures.

The way it works when you order a package of suits is that we produce 1 suit first as a kindof test garment. If it needs alterations, we get them done but change the measurements/notations etc in the system so the next 2 suits are done better. If the suit has major problems no matter related to poor measurements or factory error in the make, it gets remade. Best case scenario is the first suit fits amazing then we just produce the rest with no change. This garment was the first of 3 to be produced. The fabric is a wool brighter navy plaid that is woven exclusively for A&B coming from Gladson.

 

Here you can see that the sleeve lining is inserted by hand

 

More sleeve lining hand stitches.

 

The sleeves are finished this way so there is .5" of adjusting space up or down.

 

More hand stitches attached sleeve lining to jacket lining.

hand stitches to tack the lining to the vents.

Good pattern matching

The felt undercollar is finished this way by default. It is drawn on by hand and reinforced by machine. Ultimately finished by hand. You can embroider anything you want on it.

hard to see the dimpling from the canvassing.

barchetta pattern matching

5 button cuff done by machine. Can be done by hand if specified. Buttons are horn by default.

Roped shoulder.

The way the waistband is constructed..3 buttoning points with rubberized gripper.

Embroidered belt loop is optional. Hidden cash pocket.

Watch pocket. You can also get a flapped pocket or invisible.

trouser pattern matching

post #144 of 171

These are pictures of a second fitting. As mentioned in the previous post, this is kindof a trial suit. It needs a little work to improve the fit. Sometimes there is no work needed after the trial suit. It's not a perfect process, but it's very good short of bespoke. I will post pictures after I finished the work needed as well.

 

 

 

Most of the work needed is in trouser length. The right sleeve is a hair short, as well. There is also a bit of fullness in the back but I was too rushed to take a lot of pictures. From the front, the suit fits just fine to his preference. I do not work in a major metro area so very clean and close tailoring isn't so popular around here. The client was actually satisfied with the way the suit fit, but I personally couldn't let the pants stay that long or the sleeve stay a bit short.

Regarding the trouser fit....I purposely take measurements long when there are no good fitting trousers available to copy from. Then I hem them to appropriate length and record the proper measurement.

This garment in the package of 3 suits, 3 shirts, and 3 ties priced out around $750. No upcharges for any of the personalized options. Client is not a fan of pick stitching.

 

I will periodically post more client pics if I have permission. Otherwise, you will see them along with short articles and videos that I will produce in an effort to build my personal marketing in a wordpress blog I will be launching soon.

post #145 of 171

This is the canvassing inside a Tom James suit that I found at a thrift store. It is their Royal Classic Model. It was made in 03 so the quality could be different today. I haven't ripped apart any canali's or Golden Fleece to this level but I will if I ever find them cheap enough to buy up for comparison.

All in all, if you compare this with the suit above, there is a major total quality difference.

In my tailoring experience, A&B trumps TJ at every level. Now that I've been working for them, of course I'm going to be a little more biased but this is visual evidence of a true difference in quality.

post #146 of 171

OTC, what's up with the left lapel's notch (or just below it)? I've seen it on a TF suit before.

post #147 of 171

And just for the heck of it, I'll be posting some more pics later of these two TF suits. The client who brought them could probably care less about all the little things that make these garments special. He was interested in the fit, primarily. Once I showed him the A&B comparison in price, fit, fabric quality, and construction, the conversion was simple. 

When I post the pics of the tailoring, you will see that these garments exhibit an incredible level of quality in the build that is probably the finest I've ever seen in ANY RTW brand.

 

These suits also retail for $4400.

 

 

 

post #148 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by forbritisheyes View Post

OTC, what's up with the left lapel's notch (or just below it)? I've seen it on a TF suit before.

not sure what you're referring to...

post #149 of 171
At first glance, they looked like notch lapels to me. However, they're peak lapels, and that additional ridge you're likely seeing is the boutonnière. I think the contrast just isn't very high and the pattern makes it hard to discern when initially looking at it.

At least that's what I think his issue is.
post #150 of 171
Quote:
Originally Posted by robbrechter View Post

At first glance, they looked like notch lapels to me. However, they're peak lapels, and that additional ridge you're likely seeing is the boutonnière. I think the contrast just isn't very high and the pattern makes it hard to discern when initially looking at it.

At least that's what I think his issue is.

My goodness....you're right! holy COW. I didn't notice that - how did I not? THanks :)

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