I read your post with sincere gratitude that you consider me worthy of such a great degree of research. Sarcastic as that may sound, I do mean it. Before I respond to your issues, allow me to offer a bit of chastisement. Firstly, I appear here under my own name. My e-mail and telephone are available on my website which has appeared in this forum countless times. You, on the other hand, are hiding behind a pseudonym. Although it is obvious to me that you have a close connection to the clothing trade, it may not be so obvious to other members of this forum. Full disclosure is in order. Secondly, you had the extreme discourtesy to publish the telephone number of American Sember. If you are truly as familiar with them as you claim to be, you would be well aware that they are a very small family business, a wholesale operation which has neither the resources, the desire, nor the staff to answer questions from the customers of shirtmakers to whom they sell. You published Nicole's full name as well, implying a connection. Perhaps you might have shown the honesty to add that we have been divorced for more than a decade. On to your issues: My blood boils at the comparison to Gore. What an inept analogy. How can one small Republican shirtmaker claiming to have invented a machine possibly compare to a Democratic Presidential candidate claiming to have invented the internet? You are really taking yourself altogether too seriously, learydenis. I have no idea who makes the finest fusing machines in the world today. I do know that in 1982 when I needed one, they were universally being made wrong. They were made without regard to the fact that the polyamide bond between the shell cloth and the interlining is weakened if there is motion during the cooling phase of the fusing process. The case remains that, even today, the majority of fusing operations conveniently ignore this science in favor of the greater throughput of the high-speed machines. Did I patent it? No. Did I make more than one? No. Do you want to see it?
You raise issue with the yarn size of our fabrics.
All of our cotton fabrics, which range from 100 to 240 denier. This is a typo. Refer to the next line: Quote Our least expensive is woven of 100 denier yarns, our finest is of 200's.
The only typo is the word denier which you should have corrected. Learning is constant and, when the web site was initially written ten years ago, the term denier was universally bandied about. The correct term is yarn number which is the term used in the update of my website being readied for publication this coming Spring. Insofar as the fabric, the specific broadcloth referred to is woven of a 200's warp and a 240's weft. Although I don't know if it is being made any longer, I still have a bit in stock.
3(usually no more) yards of fabric are needed only when the fabric is in a 36" width and there are patterns to be matched. I'm quite sure that many of your fabrics are in 60" width as well, in which case only ~2 yards are needed. Shirts of fabric of 36" width need ~2.7m or 3 yd. Shirts of fabric in 60" width take 1.8m or ~2 yd. As for fabrics costing $50/yard, only a small handful can even approach that number, including duties and freight costs. Swiss 200s broadcloth in 36" width costs ~$25/m($22.5/yd), Italian 200s broadcloth costs ~$21-$28/m($18.90-$25.20/yd) in 60" width. Other fabrics: 100s cost ~$12/m, 120s ~$12-$15/m. 140s cost ~15-$18/m. 170s cost slightly more than 140s. Of course duties and freight must be added, but duties for fine shirt fabrics are less than half what they are for Super woolens.
Although your wholesale pricing may be correct, I wouldn't know. I gave up importing my own fabrics a long, long time ago. It should be obvious to you that a shirtmaker who purchases the small quantities I need to make a dozen shirts each week can certainly not be buying the mills minimums and must therefore buy from an importer. The majority of the fabrics I use are 36" goods; 60" fabrics are just not woven as straight. I am a retailer, not a wholesaler. If you were to go in to a fabric store to purchase 3 yards of 170's which they had purchased from American Sember, you would pay $186.30. I also use many lighter weight Lesser woolens and Dormeuil cashmeres in my shirtmaking. For the most recent two cashmere shirts I made, my cost for the fabric for the two shirts was $3000 ... but these extremes don't appear on my website.
I imagine that a number of you have read Alan Flusser's Style and the Man and/or Bruce Boyer's Elegance. Flusser notes that Mr. Kabbaz apprenticed for a man named Fred Calcagno at Pec & Co, then left and bought the Poster Shirt Company. When Mr. Calcagno retired Mr. Kabbaz took over Pec & Co and merged it with the Poster Shirt Company. In Elegance(written in 1985) Boyer writes that the Rockefeller and Onassis were clients of Mr. Calcagno, and there is no mention of Mr. Kabbaz. I wonder which of the clients whom Mr. Kabbaz lists are/were his clients and which are/were those of Mr. Calcagno whom he inherited. Some of the clients Mr. Kabbaz lists he may never have served. For example, Boyer wrote Elegance in 1985, when Calcagno was still running Pec and Co. But Aristotle Onassis died in 1975. Also questionable are Cary Grant(d. 1986), William Randolph Hearst(d. 1951), and Yul Brynner(d. 1985). Mr. Kabbaz was probably a toddler when Hearst died.
The subtitle of Kabbaz-Kelly & Sons is "Fine Custom Clothiers and Haberdashers - Established 1937". I am 53. Exactly what is is you don't get here? The fact that a company has successive generations of management doesn't mean that it throws its heritage out the window. It is the responsibility of each new generation to build with pride upon the generation which went before - and I believe I have done that well. I don't think anyone out there is under the impression that I personally served Mr. Hearst when I was 1 year old. I didn't personally serve John Rockefeller either ... but I did serve all of his sons. And Mr. Grant. And Mr. Brynner.
Each of our shirts is entirely hand-made, from the holes drilled in the buttons to the final stitch in the final period in your initials. It's highly unlikely that they drill the holes in the buttons. You think that they actually buy shells, then drill, polish and then drill holes in the buttons? They probably get their buttons from American Sember.
Read your own quote. I did not claim that I drill the holes in the buttons. I said the holes are drilled by hand. From 1975 until 1995, the holes were hand drilled by John Emmer. The website was written in 1994. In 1996 the quality of Mr. Emmer's drilling as wellas the quality of his shells suddenly went South. When I went to find out why, I learned that he had put his son in the job of drilling the pearl buttons. Being one of those corporate, quarterly reports kind of guys, John's son totally screwed up the buttonmaking in favor of temporarily greater profits. I then switched to a European supplier. Do I have button shells? Yes. Can I make the buttons and drill the holes here in my shop? Absolutely. If you would like to come by, we'll make a few with you. Do I do this regularly? You must be kidding. I am a shirtmaker. I don't weave fabric and I don't make buttons ... but I know how to do both which makes me a better judge of what I purchase. I would run down to the studio and take a picture of shells to add to the Fusing Press, but quite frankly it is 1:45am on Christmas eve, I've got 3 kids who are going to jump on me at 6am, and I'm too tired. Maybe tomorrow.
That's wonderful...until the designer goes through his seven year metamorphosis, lowers his quality to increase profits, and changes his styling to "keep closer in touch with today's trends". The designer's clientele is expected to ignore the fact that his garments are marked up more than 1500% above cost. Well, it would seem that your markup is not all that much less than 1500%.
I have detailed my markup elsewhere in this thread.
Also, based on the shirt linked below, I wonder if you have not, at least at some point, gone through the metamorphosis you refer to.
I have owned seven shirt companies. One, which you may have heard of was Denhof Shirt Company. Harold Denhof, one of my early mentors, designed the production systems for the Custom Shop around the time of WWII. You probably know as well that the Denhof system, appropriated by some of his disgruntled employees during the '70's, is also the operating system of Individualized Shirt Company, founded by those disaffected employees. Denhof Shirt made shirts and blouses for stores including Lord & Taylor, Nieman Marcus, Bonwit Teller, Alexander Julian and many others. During my tenure at the helm, I moved Denhof from upstate New York to New Haven, CT in 1986. I had a staff of 52 and they made between 1000 and 1500 shirts each week. (OMG, this must be so darn boring for the other members - sorry). We had a couple of slow weeks one Summer and I had them make a thousand of those Winter Weekend Warmers. Yes, I now sell them on Ebay for 30 bucks. And at that price for a Swiss flannel, they are an extremely good value. But what, if anything, does that have to do with custom shirtmaking??? The only knowledge I gained from owning Denhof Shirt Company is an intimate knowledge of how designers have their shirts made for $10-$12 each ... and a darn good knowledge of how not
to make a true custom shirt.
Bear in mind that Mr. Kabbaz has to maintain expensive East Hampton digs, which is probably also a good part of what your money is going toward.
Now you're being ridiculous. The East Hampton property has been in my family since 1946. You can learn all about that at Artists' Woods Gallery & Gardens
I make shirts 3 days a week and run the Gallery & Art School the other 4 days. It is self-supporting ... and quite a bit of fun.
Mr. Kabbaz does have a good sense of humor, offering a Kevlar and Nomex shirt.
Humor? What humor? You want it, I'll make it. I love a challenge. Besides, a good stock bullet-resistant vest goes for $7-800. Just think of what I could charge for a custom-made fireproof one. Since the impression you seem to have of me is as a charlatan and a rip-off, maybe I should forget about Swiss cotton and go into something really profitable like this.
It would be nice if you would write up and post some more information. Obviously there is a lot of interest in your services. Who knows, you may be able to convince some of us.
I spent a great deal of time today writing that - and there's still quite a way to go. For some reason, however, I have begun to feel that there are two distinct types of members here. There are those with an honest quest for additional knowledge regarding an arena in which they have great interest. I have great admiration for that Then there are others, a category into which I believe you fall and where I know Marc39 and Cityslicker do, who have a couple of less worthy goals. You seem quite interested in picking makers apart - towards what end I certainly cannot gather - and in showing how much you know similarly to the strut of a peacock. Where you really, truly don't seem to "get it" is that I have no interest in "convincing you". I enjoy sharing my knowledge about shirtmaking with those who have a keen interest and I occasionally do take on a new client who shares my enthusiasm for that which I do well. That's the extent of it. I did not come here in a search for clients. Cityslicker, I don't know if Mr. Burnham is I, II, III, or IV. He is about 90 years old, bought his last shirts in '96, has the nickname "Chubby", and is the former president of the NYSE. Attention Members: I am now going to take the sage advice I've been given by a few of you and ignore any further flamebait. My next post, hopefully before the weekend is out, will be the promised synopsis of shirtmaking. Have a wonderful Christmas, Hannukka, and/or Kwaanza and, again, thank you for your interest in my craft.