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Kabbaz shirts?  

post #1 of 78
Thread Starter 
THE ESSAY ON SHIRTMAKING IS PROBABLY TOO LONG TO FIT WITH OTHER POSTS. AS SUGGESTED BY OTHER MEMBERS, I HAVE NOW POSTED IT ON A PRIVATE PAGE OF MY WEBSITE FOR FORUM/ANDY'S MEMBERS ONLY. HERE IS THE LINK: http://www.customshirt1.com/StyleForum_AskAndy01.htm Shirtmaking Article for Members Only To directly answer both of your questions: The only hand stitching in my shirts are those which attach the buttons. Machine stitches are much stronger, much more accurate, and much more secure. The fabrics I use range from $50 per yard and up. There are three+ yards in a shirt. I couldn't possibly begin to tell you what goes into the crafting of one of my shirts. There are some quite in-depth descriptions on my website. Alternatively, you are welcome to come and watch us work or to inspect a shirt, any time. If you go to a store and buy something for $10, you can be reasonably assured that the store paid $5 for it. That is the standard markup. It is known as "Keystone". I use the standard markup. If my shirt sells for $625, then it theoretically cost me $312.50 to make. I tend to be a bit fussy about the shirts which usually throws theory out the window ... but at least you know the theory. Insofar as the name list, it was not meant as name-dropping. The same list is available on my website and therefore public knowledge. You must realize that the single most important asset any craftperson has is the list of people who have judged his work to be worth purchasing repeatedly. That list is generally a good indication of the quality of the work in question. It is also one of the first questions asked by any new client. Everyone, no matter of what social or economic strata, has an interest in the knowing the company they are keeping. I was trying to demonstrate the absolute ridiculousness of Marc39's assertion questioning the intelligience of anyone who purchases my wares. Finally, many of those listed have done a great deal to contribute to the public good. It it not conceivable that they have earned perhaps a bit more everlasting respect than the rest of us? Without Bernstein and Berlin ... would music be as great? Without Grant and Douglas ... would clothing be as important? Without Shea ... would there even be Mets? Without Wolfe ... would our generation even have a greatest writer? It is a serious proposition, by the way. Anyone with interest in the art is welcome to watch how it is done. Just e-mail or call us any time.
post #2 of 78
Quote:
It takes us 8 to 12 hours to make one shirt here.
Could you give us a breakdown of the various tasks that you have to perform to make a shirt and the time required to perform those tasks?
post #3 of 78
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i also think the name dropping was rather distateful. the fact that you have celebrity clients doesn't make your shirts any more valuable. and we all deserve courtesy and respect regardless of our station in life.
He's not arguing that those who don't have an exalted station in life are not worthy of respect. He's arguing that he must be making a quality product if he can please people who, by virtue of their wealth and privilege, ought to have extensive experience with the best goods that can be had. It's essentially an argument from authority, but it's not without merit for all that.
post #4 of 78
Horray for Mr. Kabbaz. And kudo's for discussing your margins - even though they are none of our business. Mr. Kabbaz - how did you find the Style Forum??
post #5 of 78
Quote:
He's arguing that he must be making a quality product if he can please people who, by virtue of their wealth and privilege, ought to have extensive experience with the best goods that can be had.
This is not to be a slur on Mr Kabbaz (for all I know, all his celebrity clientele might pay the going price for his services) but in recent years this notion as become totally tarnished as designers fight with each other to supply their merchandise (for free) to even the most minor of celebrities. I do not know if in the 1960s, when Ms Loren was dressed by Dior, Ms Hepburn by Givenchy and Ms Deneuve by Saint Laurent, these ladies actually paid for the stuff. Today even the tiniest of starlets, attending the opening of an envelope, can contact the PR departments of Prada, Gucci and Versace and gets completely kitted out (for free). Versace supplies Elton John with every (ugly) design in the collection, made up in his size. He only can get rid of the stuff, by selling it off (unworn) in a huge jumble sale, every few years to benefit his AIDS charity. A while back a London paper phoned up the PRs of the leading design houses in the name of a (fictitious) actress ("but she was in X and Y and Z") asking for her to be fitted out for a premiere. Although nobody had heard of the actress, nobody was willing to admit it and she was invited to come to the store to make her own selection. The emperor's new clothes.
post #6 of 78
Quote:
The emperor's new clothes.
Which is why I roll my eyes at name-dropping. Add one more to your score, Kabbaz. Also, I never did consider lawyers to be paragons of style. More like paragons of labels. For $600 a shirt, it had better be able to give me immunity to terrorist chemical bombings and/or SARS. It should also be bulletproof.
post #7 of 78
Well, I definately got some of the response that I was expecting and then some that I couldn't have imagined (A. Kabbaz). I appreciate the many perspectives - it's like talking politics or money - everyone has a strong opinion and many valid (sometimes just to themselves) thoughts although they tend to sway to the extremes. On to the shirts ... I am a person who is financially able to afford myself a few luxuries here and there but am certainly not going to make any "who's who" lists. That being said, I am like the many of others who are interested in what so and so said, what they were wearing, etc.. It helps me to understand a little about their personalities, what they value, etc.. While I agree that many people are simply wearing what the designer gave them for free, I am even more interested in what they're willing to pay for. In this case, it appears as though that is a quality product (it is still arguable on of the best shirts made that we are discussing), made with care and supported by the pampering and special attention typically received by those in their positions. Unfortunately, the means of valuing these qualities can lead many people to different conclusions regarding what they are willing to pay. What I am most interested in is the process, somtimes you pay a little more to learn a lesson. In the case of the offer to actually watch a shirt being made from start to finish - best deal out there - I have watched my tailor make a suit from start to finish (an investment in time on both his and my parts) and I can tell you that there is a great deal to be learned and there is no better opportunity than to sit with one who knows and watch them at their craft. Thanks.
post #8 of 78
Thread Starter 
Dear Alias, As I stated, we endeavor to fulfill requests. On to your specifics: Bulletproof is no problem at all. However, Kevlar doesn't drape all that well. Additionally, to be effective for more than, say, a .22LR, it would need to be a bit thicker than the norm. Hence, the fit might not be up to our usual preferences. If you'd like, we might as well include Fireproof by adding an outer layer of Nomex. How many are you interested in? When are you available for fittings? Regarding the bio-terrorist proof request: A man's gotta know his limitations. Though a chemical-proof shirt would be easy, it wouldn't work because there needs to be a perfect seal with the pants, boots, and helmet. As we don't make pants ... and as shirtmakers & tailors almost never agree on anything at all, the seal would probably leak. We don't have much opportunity to agree or disagree with hatmakers nor bootmakers, therefore I can't offer an educated opinion regarding the sanctity of those two seals. Alex Kabbaz Regarding two other matters arising more than once in various posts: Free shirts: I consider many of my clients to be a bit more than business acquaintances. As such, I occasionally proffer a gift at Christmas time. At times, that might be a shirt if I am particularly excited about a new fabric I believe a client might like. More often it is an accessory or furnishing I've noticed they lack. A formal scarf, a pocket square, braces, one of our more unique Zimmerli items, and the like come to mind. With that single exception noted, not anybody on that list ever received a free shirt from me. We just don't do that. How our Shirts are Made I find amazing - and quite gratifying - the degree of interest many of you have expressed in this regard. As you are obviously willing to do the reading, I feel it incumbent upon me to offer at least an outline of the steps involved in the process. Because I don't happen to have it stashed away anywhere but in my head, over the next few days I'll take the time to write it up and post it. And again, thanks for the interest.
post #9 of 78
Mr. Kabbaz: Thanks for your participation in this forum; you are clearly an intelligent and witty man, and I assume a good businessman as well. I look forward to reading your future description of your construction techniques. I don't know diddly about tailoring, but I must say that I can't imagine how your shirts involve 8 hours of labor, given that you state the only hand-sewing is the attachment of the buttons. I look forward to enlightenment in this regard. Also, perhaps one of the participants in this forum will take you up on your offer to view your construction techniques and report back. I also find interesting your statements regarding gross margin; costing items out of course involves the allocation of lots of fixed costs, as well as the direct production costs of an item. If your shirts truly involve 8 hours of direct labor, I can easily see how your cost of production, including overhead and fixed costs, would be in the $300 range. That being said, I think your representation of mark-ups is a bit misleading; a retailer may pay $100 for an item which sells for $200, but of course they have the additional costs of maintaining their store, paying salespeople, advertising the store, getting stuck with unsold merchadise, etc. As far as I can understand it (I am inferring this, so please feel free to correct me), you either do not have these costs (some) or are likely already including them (others) in the $312.50 cost calcuation. I would therefore guess that your net profit margin is alot higher than the 5% - 10% that retailers earn. Of course, we live in a free society, and you may charge whatever prices you choose. I guess I could afford to pay the prices you ask, and perhaps some day I shall; I just find your assertions and comparisons either a bit self serving or misleading. Part of the value of this forum is education about reality vs. perception/marketing, so I look forward to understanding your offerings and economics a bit better.
post #10 of 78
Mr. Kabbaz, please don't "impugn" our intelligence by boasting about your star clientele and suggesting that if they are customers (or so you say), that translates into a superior product. This might impress some, but not others more sophisticated. The fact that a very rich person can afford an expensive item, whether it be a shirt or anything else, does not necessarily equate to *quality*, it simply equates to the *ability* of the customer to afford the item. A $600 shirt to a billionaire is insignificant. Actually, a cogent case can be made that those in this foum are far more savvy when it comes to clothing as such purchases are more considered than they are impulsive. We're all taught to believe that the more expensive a product is, the better it must be, but it's often not the case. A prominent NY custom "tailor" to the "rich and famous", whose suits start at $5,000, once said, "The more I charge for my suits, the more customers I get". Ironically, the story on this "tailor", who also boasts about the Rockefeller family being among his clients (as you do), is that he's not even a real tailor. But, his prominent clientele is a very effective marketing ploy. His cynical philosophy of doing business is the foundation for high-end product marketing: If it's expensive, it must be superior. The clients you list are smart, savvy, and successful in various walks of life, but it does not necessarily mean they are knowledgeable in the quality of clothing. Actually, among those clients listed, few are known as style icons, or even especially well-dressed: Expensively-dressed no doubt, but not necessarily stand-outs in the area of style or good taste. Can anyone honestly say they hold up Nelson Rockefeller as the epitome of style? Another client you list, Ron Perelman, is known to dump tailors as fast as he dumps his wives, so being associated with him is a hollow "endorsement". It all comes to down to the power of celebrity marketing and high-end branding. Creed can charge $180 for a few ounces of smelly liquid because of their long list of celebrity clients, which Creed also boasts about (no mention, however, of the Rockefellers or Perelman wearing Creed). Rolex, by being associated with various celebrities, sports stars, and successful businesspeople, has built a hugely successful brand and, thus, can charge a premium for what is essentially a mass-produced item. Last time I checked, Rolex's signature "President" watch was selling with a huge premiium at $11,000. That's why Rolex has been known to give away, free of charge, Rolexes to various people of note. Attendies of the Academy Awards will each receive "gift baskets" worth literally tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise because the manufacturers of those items want the "positive ruboff effect" of being associated with the Academy Awards. I could cite hundreds of other examples. If you can justify the price of your shirts, so be it, but please don't insult us with "bragging rights".
post #11 of 78
Quote:
Dear Alias, As I stated, we endeavor to fulfill requests. On to your specifics: Bulletproof is no problem at all. However, Kevlar doesn't drape all that well. Additionally, to be effective for more than, say, a .22LR, it would need to be a bit thicker than the norm. Hence, the fit might not be up to our usual preferences. If you'd like, we might as well include Fireproof by adding an outer layer of Nomex. How many are you interested in? When are you available for fittings? Regarding the bio-terrorist proof request: A man's gotta know his limitations. Though a chemical-proof shirt would be easy, it wouldn't work because there needs to be a perfect seal with the pants, boots, and helmet. As we don't make pants ... and as shirtmakers & tailors almost never agree on anything at all, the seal would probably leak. We don't have much opportunity to agree or disagree with hatmakers nor bootmakers, therefore I can't offer an educated opinion regarding the sanctity of those two seals. Alex Kabbaz
This sounds wonderful. Seeing as how my men are currently stationed in various parts of the globe, I'm sure they can all get plane tickets and attend fittings as I see fit. It's up to your schedule. I'll take 300 and I'll pay via wire transfer from my Swiss bank account. Oh, and when you hear about 300 armed-men storming Baltimore wearing beautiful-yet-bullet-resistant dress shirts, it wasn't me, ok? Also, do you do accessories? Like exploding cufflinks?
post #12 of 78
As a current customer of Alex Kabbaz, the decision to have my shirts made by Alex and his wife has been simple. They are the highest-value custom shirts I have seen and worn. I would love to be able to pay "only" $300-400 for custom shirts, but I've spent over $5,000 trying custom shirts made by Borrelli, Kiton, Turnbull & Asser, and Charvet, and they all have proved to be disappointing, and I don't wear them. And that's not to say that Charvet and the others aren't great shirtmakers, but for me personally, it just didn't work out. An expensive education for me. Kabbaz was the fifth shirtmaker I tried, and his are the finest shirts I own. He went through one initial measurement and four fittings (yes, four, at his insistence, no less.) to create a perfect fit for me. The construction of the shirts are remarkable, (bottom of my collar mimics the curves of my trapezoid and neck muscles). I wear Alex's shirts all the time, and because they are worn so frequently relative to my other shirts, they are a great value to me. On a separate note, I find in general there's a certain mean-spiritedness to this and the askandy forum, which has caused me to not be a particularly active poster. The comments by some in this thread are a perfect example. There are plenty of exceptions, I find A. Harris and T4phage's posts to be great for instance.
post #13 of 78
Quote:
On a separate note, I find in general there's a certain mean-spiritedness to this and the askandy forum, which has caused me to not be a particularly active poster.  The comments by some in this thread are a perfect example.  There are plenty of exceptions, I find A. Harris and T4phage's posts to be great for instance.
We have marc to thank for that.
post #14 of 78
Thread Starter 
Dear Thraccozaag, Yes. You're right that Marc is to thank for the mean-spiritedness. On the other hand, if he hadn't consistently exhibited such boorish behavior - in this case somewhat aimed at my clients - I would have, quite frankly, felt it rather improper for me as a subject to enter what is meant to be an objective discussion.
post #15 of 78
Quit the ad homs, people. We're here to talk about whether or not one of Kabbaz's shirts is worth the sticker price. So far we've had several nays and one yea from Cherrytree. I suppose if I was able to afford an immaculately-crafted dress shirt, I would spring for one. Seeing as how my station in life does not grant me that luxury, however, I'm inclined to spring for cheaper shirts. But Cherrytree brought up a good point: mistakes can be expensive, and sometimes it's better to get a great shirt (or suit, or tie, or anything) at a huge price than to get many mistakes for less. When I become a successful bank robber, Mr. Kabbaz, I'll go to you.
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