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Alex Kabbaz Shirts: Worth the money? - Page 2

post #16 of 81
If I've got the cojones to charge 600 bucks for a shirt, I'd sure better be able to take the heat that comes with it. No insult taken; no apology necessary.
post #17 of 81
Quote:
The question is not, to those who desire to wear my work, whether they are worth the money. The question is simple: Do they want to wear my shirts or not? If the answer is "yes", then they may do so by paying my price. If the answer is "no", then obviously the shirts are not worth the money.
Well said. I've read a lot here about diminishing returns. Reminds me of what my father always used to say - basically that doing a job at 95% takes half the time of doing it at 100% and there are very few people who can tell the difference. Those who can tell, and who care, are usually prepared to pay for the best, it's worth it to them.
post #18 of 81
I don't think its fair to ask the question since most people here haven't worn a shirt made by Mr. Kabbaz. However, the most important thing about a shirt is fit. It seems that a problem with T&A is that the people measuring you might not necessairly understand what will work for you. These people are salesmen, and not shirtmakers. Ideally, you'd want somebody who would study variables like your posture, and how this would affect the fit of the shirt. Of course, different shirtmakers probably have different ideals of what is the best fit. Mr. Kabbaz, What do you think of a shirt from Jantzen?
post #19 of 81
Quote:
Mr. Kabbaz, What do you think of a shirt from Jantzen?
His brain is probably collapsing into a singularity upon reading this question.
post #20 of 81
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What do you think of a shirt from Jantzen? ---esquire
Quote:
His brain is probably collapsing into a singularity upon reading this question. ---Alias
If I were to try to say it better than Alias did (which would be difficult), I might try that famous 1960's quote from an old, revered Hollywood producer who, when being questioned by a reporter about the newest stars of the day was heard to reply, "Shirley Temples? Shirley Temples? What are Shirley Temples?" But seriously, I thought that the last time I would do research at this level was when I placed an anonymous order for 4 Custom Shop shirts back in the late 1970's. If it covers you from the waist to the neck for $45, it really couldn't be all that bad. I have never seen a Jantzen shirt. If you wish to send me one to look at, I'll happily answer you. Watson, Watson - where are the rubber gloves?
post #21 of 81
I have owned both Custom Shop shirts and Jantzen. The most I have spent on a shirt was the Liste Rouge, 260 dollars I think, but that high price was due to my ordering only one, which drives the cost up considerably. They are usually offering some kind of deal, either a free shirt or shipping, so the cost is closer to 200 dollars/ shirt normally. Second of all, I am not the connoisseur of shirt manufacture that Kabbaz or Shirtmaven are, so my remarks have to be taken in that context. There are three parts in the manufacture of a custom shirt, whether MTM or bespoke or something in between, the fitting, the material,  and the construction. My most beautiful shirts for a variety of reasons are my Barbas and Giam Paulo's (a little known brand similar to Barba). Carlo Franco's is also very nice, but I own only one. The fitting can be done a variety of ways. Kabbaz' sounds like it is the most certain and exhaustive. Liste Rouge's is the simplest, on-line, and my one shirt from them was spot-on. Jantzen's sleeves were slightly short, apparently a frequent problem. FOR ME, the two things that determine whether I love my shirt is fit and not construction but the material. The fine points of construction strike me as preferences that amount to very little. I did notice that Land's End seams were quite ugly so perhaps it has some significance but all these shirts are attractive superficially speaking, Jantzen, Liste Rouge, Barba and Giam Paulo. Custom Shop shirts fit badly more times than not, their refusal to acknowledge their errors was legendary, and their materials, at least of the shirts my father and I owned, sucked. Getting a well-constructed shirt, as others have pointed out, is easy these days. Getting a well-fitted shirt is not that hard but not a snap, depending on your habitus. If you have enough money, 600 dollars/shirt becomes insignificant compared to the time wasted on bad fitting shirts and fixing them. I will never blow that kind of money on a shirt, but I can easily see all the money I am willing to spend to save time on other items. My beautiful Borrelli jacket, which I got from Ian Daniels for 800 dollars, was not worth the trouble I went to to get it to fit. I could have had a comparable d'Avenza jacket for 1300. But that 500 dollars purchased a jacket I could try on and that would need no adjustments after I bought it. I am not a corporate mogul, but time and my energy are my two most precious commodities because they are the only limits on how much money I make. I paid 2600 dollars for my Centofanti suit, and I pay only 1500 dollars for a d'Avenza RTW. I never thought I would be spending money like this, but here I am. Were I to be making, say, four times as much as I am now, I can see spending a lot more for my shirts if I were happy with what I got. Some of us have different priorities, and the idea of spending a weekend with Alex is not my idea of a good time (no disrespect to Alex, I just can't imagine devoting a weekend to fitting). I would pay more for shirts that were copied from my best fitting shirt in the materials I chose, simply because that is the way I like it. I can't see spending that money on Kabbaz shirts, but I can see spending money on things done my way. You just have to adjust your mindset. Remember, there are people who would look at my Alfred Sargent 250 dollar shoes and think I am wacko. By the way, can anyone compare Paris shirts (the Kabbaz choice for better quality between Geneva and Paris) and Cego shirts? They appear to be similarly priced. And Carl, you wrote that Lanvin makes the finest shirts in the world: is that still true, and why? How much do they cost?
post #22 of 81
I might be able to shed some light here...Used to be quite the shirt fiend when I wore them with ties every day. Have gotten rid of better than half of my collection, and become a shoe fiend thanks to the members of the Forum. I own apprx 10 Borrellis, the same number of Turnbull & Assers, and 2 Kabbazs. No Jantzens, No Mark Christophers- although Mark did give me a tie as well when I interviewed him for the first edition of the book. Disclaimers: 1. Alex sent me two fitting samples as a barter. I did not pay for them. 2. I do not currently wear dress shirts often, so I can't really address durability in this discussion. My conclusions: 1. Kabbaz is the best shirt by a wide margin. I base this primarily on the construction and fit of the shirt. I e-mailed him measurements and he got it right on...Hopefully we'll actually do a couple of customs the next time I'm in NYC so I can report on the full process. As fitting samples, the collars were fused, but I've never had a better collar on a shirt. Only shirt I've ever worn where I don't have to fiddle with the tie all day. And I liked the little house details, like the double buttoned collar, and the curved, single layered french cuffs. The shirt also fit extremely well- close to the body, but not constricting, or to the point where I felt it might shrink with subsequent washings. Finally, no gussets on the bottom sides, but very precise stitching. I used to be a big fan of gussets as it made me feel justified plunking down $200 plus for a shirt, but as Kabbaz pointed out in his essay posted here, they're not really necessary, and can even be disguising sloppy stitching. 2. Borrelli- love the fabrics and the subtle details. All the handwork is nice in an old-fashioned, artisanal sort of way. But hand sewn doesn't always mean better. Have only bought Borrelli off the rack. Fit is loose in the body for me, and I'm a big guy. I have a couple LBs that are 7-8 yeras old, and they've held up well. 3. T&A- close to Borrelli in value versus price, but a different shirt. Most of mine are pretty bold with the trademark banker's collars and cuffs. When I wore shirts and ties every day in the late 90s, these were the only shirts I ordered MTM. At the time Simon Hobbs was the trunk show rep; he is now the manager of the NY store. He is wonderful to deal with, but things can happen between America and London that he just can't control. Thus T&A's rep for occasionally spotty service. Fabric good, but not Borrelli. Durable (I've had some of these for 8-10 years). Fit in the body again, even on MTM, is not as precise. 4. Mark Christopher- Mark is a great guy. Looks like he does an outstanding job. The fabrics he showed me at his studio were great. However, I haven't had a chance to order one yet. 5. Kiton- have one RTW purchased on sale. Great shirt, particularly luxurious fabric, but at $600 plus retail IMO it's a Borrelli at twice the price. (Ducks projectiles hurled by Forum Kiton lovers). In fact I believe there's been some employee raiding back and forth between the two companies, which is how Borrelli got into tailored clothing, and Kiton into shirts. 6. Barba- Great fabric and construction. Siimilar to Borrelli in details, but a bit more fitted. For some reason they've become really hard to find. 7. Robert Talbott- Another shirt I'd like to try, but haven't gotten around to yet. They have 2 new sizes that fit closer to the body, and fabrics here are excellent too. I'd probably start with a Best of Class or two, and if I liked them I'd try an Estate. However- these aren't really MTM- more like a Custom Stock program. Any members interested in ordering should make sure an RTW in your size fits first.
post #23 of 81
Quote:
I might be able to shed some light here...Used to be quite the shirt fiend when I wore them with ties every day. Have gotten rid of better than half of my collection, and become a shoe fiend thanks to the members of the Forum. I own apprx 10 Borrellis, the same number of Turnbull & Assers, and 2 Kabbazs. No Jantzens, No Mark Christophers- although Mark did give me a tie as well when I interviewed him for the first edition of the book. Disclaimers: 1. Alex sent me two fitting samples as a barter. I did not pay for them. 2. I do not currently wear dress shirts often, so I can't really address durability in this discussion. My conclusions: 1. Kabbaz is the best shirt by a wide margin. I base this primarily on the construction and fit of the shirt. I e-mailed him measurements and he got it right on...Hopefully we'll actually do a couple of customs the next time I'm in NYC so I can report on the full process. As fitting samples, the collars were fused, but I've never had a better collar on a shirt. Only shirt I've ever worn where I don't have to fiddle with the tie all day. And I liked the little house details, like the double buttoned collar, and the curved, single layered french cuffs. The shirt also fit extremely well- close to the body, but not constricting, or to the point where I felt it might shrink with subsequent washings. Finally, no gussets on the bottom sides, but very precise stitching. I used to be a big fan of gussets as it made me feel justified plunking down $200 plus for a shirt, but as Kabbaz pointed out in his essay posted here, they're not really necessary, and can even be disguising sloppy stitching. 2. Borrelli- love the fabrics and the subtle details. All the handwork is nice in an old-fashioned, artisanal sort of way. But hand sewn doesn't always mean better. Have only bought Borrelli off the rack. Fit is loose in the body for me, and I'm a big guy. I have a couple LBs that are 7-8 yeras old, and they've held up well. 3. T&A- close to Borrelli in value versus price, but a different shirt. Most of mine are pretty bold with the trademark banker's collars and cuffs. When I wore shirts and ties every day in the late 90s, these were the only shirts I ordered MTM. At the time Simon Hobbs was the trunk show rep; he is now the manager of the NY store. He is wonderful to deal with, but things can happen between America and London that he just can't control. Thus T&A's rep for occasionally spotty service. Fabric good, but not Borrelli. Durable (I've had some of these for 8-10 years). Fit in the body again, even on MTM, is not as precise. 4. Mark Christopher- Mark is a great guy. Looks like he does an outstanding job. The fabrics he showed me at his studio were great. However, I haven't had a chance to order one yet. 5. Kiton- have one RTW purchased on sale. Great shirt, particularly luxurious fabric, but at $600 plus retail IMO it's a Borrelli at twice the price. (Ducks projectiles hurled by Forum Kiton lovers). In fact I believe there's been some employee raiding back and forth between the two companies, which is how Borrelli got into tailored clothing, and Kiton into shirts. 6. Barba- Great fabric and construction. Siimilar to Borrelli in details, but a bit more fitted. For some reason they've become really hard to find. 7. Robert Talbott- Another shirt I'd like to try, but haven't gotten around to yet. They have 2 new sizes that fit closer to the body, and fabrics here are excellent too. I'd probably start with a Best of Class or two, and if I liked them I'd try an Estate. However- these aren't really MTM- more like a Custom Stock program. Any members interested in ordering should make sure an RTW in your size fits first.
The Borrelli's you'll get at the boutique (I'm assuming you bought them through a department store) are going to be significantly slimmer (as the ones made for department stores are catering to the American market). koji
post #24 of 81
Quote:
The Borrelli's you'll get at the boutique (I'm assuming you bought them through a department store) are going to be significantly slimmer (as the ones made for department stores are catering to the American market).
Kojii: I have heard this, and wanted to try some from the boutique. However, I've heard that they require a minmum order of 6...
post #25 of 81
Well, the OTR shirts at the boutique are plenty slim. koji
post #26 of 81
Steve: I think that someone noted that even the RTW shirts at the Borrelli boutique are cut somewhat slimmer.
post #27 of 81
Quote:
At the time Simon Hobbs was the trunk show rep; he is now the manager of the NY store. He is wonderful to deal with, but things can happen between America and London that he just can't control. Thus T&A's rep for occasionally spotty service.
He's what? Since when? I have tried for almost one and one half years to order shirts from T&A in NYC and spoke to Simon on numerous occasions, including face-to-face during my last trip to NYC and I can honestly say I have never received less intimate treatment in my life, I have heard of laissez faire, but this was ridiculous. I like T&A's shirts a lot, but I'm the customer and they the vendor, not the other way around, I should be getting call backs, not placing them . You can't really complain about T&A's customer service, because generally speaking they don't have any. Jon.
post #28 of 81
I guess I'll weigh in on this topic. What we're really discussing as "worth" or whatever, is a product of one's own value function, I would imagine. To me, I will have to stick with buying Borrelli shirts from terrific ebay vendors like Ian Daniels. To me, paying $130 for a Borrelli shirt from Ian is far better than paying $100 for T&A from ebay, for example. For that matter, it's obviously far superior than paying $225 for a new RTW T&A at full retail at Neiman's or the T&A store. With Borrelli shirts available for $130, I'd never pay close to the $400 they charge at Neiman's for their Borrelli shirts. This is the right shirt, at the right price, for my lifestyle and income. And obviously, I'd rather have 4 Borrelli shirts via ebay than a Kabbaz. However, if I took price out of the equation, I'd go to Mr. Kabbaz every time, for the same reason I'd have bespoke suits made rather than buying from ebay or off the rack. Not only is the experience and customer service far superior to what one would get at a traditional retail environment, but one can expect perfect fit and perfect construction. Now would you rather pay $600 for a bespoke shirt made perfectly and with a fanatical attention to detail and perfect fit, or would you rather pay $600 for a RTW Kiton shirt at Neiman Marcus that may or may not fit you perfectly? Well, to me it's a no-brainer. For someone with an MD compensation or a law partner/senior manager, $600 for a shirt is the same as one of us paying $5 for a magazine. No offense meant, but you know what I mean.
post #29 of 81
Can someone clarify two points: 1) Besides the Borrelli boutique, where can I get SLIM FITTING Borrellis similar to the Barba or even the Carlo Franco fit (which are very similar shirts)? 2) Steve, I am heartened by your tales of shirt longevity: previous posts have suggested shirts will last only 30 commercial washings, which with daily shirt wear and 26 shirts equals 2 years. Can you explain?
post #30 of 81
Quote:
1) Besides the Borrelli boutique, where can I get SLIM FITTING Borrellis similar to the Barba or even the Carlo Franco fit (which are very similar shirts)?
David, do you mean only RTW? Borrelli does a MTM business with no minimum order. They will cut the shirts quite slim if you ask them.
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