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post #61 of 78
[Sorry gentlemen, duplicate post]
post #62 of 78
Thread Starter 
Naturlaut: Thank you for a simple, straightforward list of questions. It will be my pleasure to answer.
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Actually, as far as I know, Mr. Bernstein had his formal shirts made by someone else.
The only shirts I made for Leonard Bernstein were what you are referring to as 'formal' shirts. In the vernacular, they would be termed 'tuxedo' shirts, although a few 'full dress' shirts were amongst the group I made. Let me be quite explicit here: From the day I made the first formal shirt for him, until the day he died, I and nobody else provided his formal shirts. He didn't call them formal shirts; they were known as 'conducting' shirts. The routine was quite regular: Each shirt was quadruplicated. His normal conducting routine was a four song performance. Leonard perspired quite profusely. In-between each musical piece, he would briefly leave the podium and head backstage. There, a valet would walk behind him undoing the buttons of his rear-opening shirts. He would drop the shirt to the floor. A second person would be holding the successive shirt aloft. Bernstein would hold his arms forward and sort of 'walk into' the dry shirt, do an about-face, and head back towards the stage while his "valet", Charlie, did up the buttons and lowered the tie down over the new wing collar. Leonard wore two kinds of shirts: my 'conducting' shirts and T-shirts. I had the privilege of watching him practice that changing routine many times in his ecclectic, eastward-facing apartment in the Dakota. He was quite good at it and the usual 'pit-stop' was accomplished in under 30 seconds. Most unique about the shirt was that I built 'pockets' into the entire upright portions of the wing collar into which we inserted strips of styrene plastic, about three times the thickness of an average collar stay, to provide stiffness while wet even under the extreme motion of conducting. He had to leave early once for a German tour and needed me to supply a quad-set for that which I had to ship to Germany. In the early '80's pre-AlGoreNet, that was a difficult, fearful task for a small, struggling shirtmaker. All of the shirts were made with single link rather than folding French cuffs, the most proper formal cuff. I do have pictures somewhere of some of the 200 or so shirts I made for him and shall post those at a later date.
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I would love to look at a bigger picture of the fusing machine, and maybe a short paragraph of how it works. I take it that your collars are fused on one side only. What exactly is the fabric fused with --- any differences between yours and, say, Charvet's (and Turnbull's and Kiton's)? Are the collars fused the same way as the cuffs (unlike, say, Hilditch)? Do you offer a completely non-fused collar/cuffs for your clients? As far as I know, collars used to be non-fused in the past, since when do we started fusing and why?
There is a larger picture at Fusing Press - Larger Picture I'll explain how and why it works in my upcoming post on the shirtmaking process. The collar is fused - yes, on one side only - with a cotton interlining using a polyamide adhesive bond. I do not fuse cuffs unless a client stomps up and down and insists. The part of the collar which is fused (the leaf) does not touch the skin. Only the unfused collar band does. Folding French cuffs do touch the skin. Aside from the uncomfortable stiffness, fusing makes it quite difficult to remove soil. Therefore, one would not want to get a collar or cuff dirt ring on a fused fabric as cleaning would be impossible after a while. Why are collars fused? A unique, always flat and wrinkle-free appearance. Additionaly, I have engineered a number of design techniques which can only be accomplished with the polyamide bond. The majority of the collars I make are Not fused, to answer your final point. Regarding differences with other makers. Yes there are differences, some extreme. I do not comment specifically on the work of other makers.
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A fabric question: I noticed you use plenty of Swiss and Italian, how about the English? Aside from the bigger mills of today (DJA, etc.) there used to be some excellent shirting fabrics from English mills that had since closed down. How are these English fabrics compared to the Swiss and Italian?
I have hundreds of pre-1988 English fabrics. About that time, English law was altered as follows: Any fabric, wheresoever made, which passed through England for any purpose, could thereafter be stamped Made In England. Soon, 45" wide fabrics were emanating from the UK, long famous for its 36" looms, which had many characteristics of the Japanese (long famous for their 45" looms) fabrics. A general comparison such as you request cannot be made. Firstly, DJA is made in Italy. Additionally, you have makers such as Acorn who are famous for using all of the larger mills 'downtime' to have their cloths produced. Some of Acorn's 160's broadcloths have been stunning. Others have been and continue to be good for fish-wrapping. Many original Horrockses and David & John Andersen cloths, of which I have a few pieces, are simply marvelous.
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An extended fabric question: From my meager knowledge and experience, English fabrics shrink more than Italian and Swiss within the first 3 washes or so. I was under the assumption that some of the cotton is pre-washed. If so (or not), how do you adjust to the shrinkage --- I ask because since the collar and cuffs are fused, the fabric has to shrink together with the fusing, and whose cotton shrinks the most?
It is not the nationality of the maker which determines shrinkage. It is determined by the yarn used, the type of weave being done, and the degree of Sanforization or similar process during the finishing stages. Here, we have a simple method. Every, and I do mean every, time we begin to use a new fabric (no, not a different color of a previously used fabric), we cut a 36" x 36" piece and put it through a rigorous shrinkage process. The result is then obtained. If it varies from our standard (1% shrinkage allowed for in the clients' patterns), we shall then pre-shrink every remaining piece of that fabric using a variety of techniques until the requisite 1% shrinkage remains before cutting the shirt. Subsequent to the making, NO shirt ever leaves our premises without a full, complete, and somewhat tortuous laundering.
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I have noticed this for a while, as stripe shirt fabrics are always 'coarser' than solid-coloured shirts. Why can't 200s be woven into stripes?
The 200's could be woven into stripes. Perhaps some are. Many 170's are. However, weavers don't like getting stuck with 'novelty' fabrics which is the category into which a 200's stripe would fall. Weavers really don't like getting stuck with expensive novelty fabrics, which is what a 200's stripe would be. A mill is much more likely to have difficulty selling a stripe that an ageless solid color.
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Refurbishing: As stated in your website, you have remnants of past patterns for refurbishing an old shirt. However, we cannot avoid washing the colours out a bit through the years, and if I were to bring a stripe shirt to you to put a new collar and cuffs, they are bound to look newer than the rest of the shirt. I'd usually order an extra set of collar and cuffs, and as advised by a Turnbull tailor, wash the extras together with the finished shirt every time, so the colour fading (however minute) would be consistent. Don't you have this problem?
Color fading can be prevented if proper laundering is done. Certain English makers are well-known for getting that extra few bucks out of a client by pre-selling the refurbishing parts. I don't believe in it. Why? 1]What do you do with those extra parts if the shirt gets a tear? 2]Those little water drain holes in your washer are part of the cause of the fraying of points. If you are laundering your replacement parts in with the shirts, they are wearing out with the shirts. 3] I have developed certain chemical techniques to accellerate fading when necessary to match a poorly laundered shirt.
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An aesthetic question: how much customization would you do for a client? I ask this because we (among forum members) had a discussion earlier regarding house style. I personally prefer if a tailoring house has its own style that it insists, rather than obeying everything that the client asks; that way one house is distinguished from the other, and having suits/shirts/shoes made in different houses would invariably provide my wardrobe with varieties, not to mention coherent matching (an English shirt/suit/shoe ensemble, for example). You could pretty much spot a Neapolitan shirt or English shirt easily due to their stubborn-ness to their own style. Are there any stylistic details that you insist or that is noticeably different from other local shirtmakers?
I made earlier reference to that disingenuous coverup for lack of inventive or design ability widely referred to as 'the house style'. I start with a discussion and measurements, not a model. I begin the pattern-making process with a roll of 36" 60# manilla paper, a square, a pencil, and a hand-knife. My only axiom is, Custom Is What The Client Wants It To Be. Will I suggest? Does a bear s--- in the woods? Will I tell a client that I don't think an Ultra-Wide Spread Collar looks good on a triple-chinned 5'6" 280 pound model for the meaning of corpulence? Absolutely, albeit gently. Do I have styles I personally prefer? Yes. Do I have styles that I hate? Yes. Button-down collars for non-acedemicians tops the list. Would I make a button-down collar for a client to wear with a Fioravanti A-list client's power-suit? Let me see. Does Lamborghini tell you not to drive their cars in Manhattan, or do they merely advise you that doing so would define stupidity? Would I tell a new client that he can call my personal shirt the "house style" if that makes him feel more comfortable? Does a bear ...? I don't make any custom shirt of which I am not proud of the quality and confident that it is the best I can make. That certainly does not mean I would wear everything I have ever made. Wait until you see, in my upgraded website next Spring, photos of the last shirts I made for Angel Cordero. They are simply spectacular. The make Liberace look boring. I wouldn't be caught dead in them. I won't be going to H.K. any time in the foreseeable future but who knows ... in Hong Kong, the land of shirtmakers, you just may discover one who cares. It has been, as I said at the outset, a joy to answer such straightforward questions. Thank you for asking.
post #63 of 78
I'd would like to thank you Mr. Kabbaz for your participation on this site, even in the face of such hostility at times, it is appreciated especially by one who has an interest in taking up fashion design. I was wondering by chance if you knew of any institutes that are adequate in initiating someone into the entire realm of apparel design/construction? I have an interest in F.I.T. in NYC (their Men's wear design course), and will be up there during the 2nd or 3rd week of January to check out the college. I would like to think that I could make it up to your open house for Styleforum members, but doubt it. Just for the sake of curiosity how would one get to your showroom from Manhattan, and how long would it take? Once again thank you for your insight. P.S. Anyone else who has some sound advice on schools and/or other tailors, and designers, I should check out while in the city please throw in you two cents. I plan to see the new McQueen store in the meatpacking district, and would like to closely inspect the construction on Slimane's work for Dior. P.S.S. To Cityslicker- Marc I don't know of the "custom tailor/not-a-tailor" you're referencing, but I can say that many famous and talented Artists of history to the present, like Warhol and Koons comes to mind as a more modern example, have worked with teams of other artists which at times have done the entire work for them, though this does not make these Artists any less of an artist.
post #64 of 78
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P.S.S. To Cityslicker- Marc I don't know of the "custom tailor/not-a-tailor" you're referencing, but I can say that many famous and talented Artists of history to the present, like Warhol and Koons comes to mind as a more modern example, have worked with teams of other artists which at times have done the entire work for them, though this does not make these Artists any less of an artist.
I believe the reference is to the infamous Jon Green, the "tailor wannabe" who has been elevated to "custom tailor" status by Mr. Kabbaz. One hopes that Mr. Green does not actually profess to his customers to be a tailor. His prices of $4,000--$6,000 are truly absurd--eye-rolling absurd. I know my own tailor will get a chuckle out of your, and Mr. Kabbaz's, rationale for how a tailor wannabe could actually function as a tailor. I hope you learn your trade well and bring some much-needed credibility to the rag trade.
post #65 of 78
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I believe the reference is to the infamous Jon Green, the "tailor wannabe" who has been elevated to "custom tailor" status by Mr. Kabbaz.
Shut up already. Jon Green hasn't fooled only Kabbaz on being a tailor. Hell, he's been written about in magazines, called a tailor by the writers. If I made a shirt for someone who's called a tailor by a lot of people (and by himself) I sure am going to take his word for it, because what's it to me? You're grasping at straws here.
post #66 of 78
I'm London based, I have never seen a Kabbaz shirt in my life and before the current row flared up, I did not even know the name (yes, I have a copy of Flusser's: "Style" and Kabbaz is listed there, but the name just did not penetrate my consciousness.) I am all in favour of people aiming for excellence and in this age of mediocrity, there are very few. I believe Mr Kabbaz is entitled to make his shirts as he feels fit and is equally entitled to charge whatever he wants. Whether you, I or Mr Kabbaz' clients are willing to pay the requested money is an entirely different matter. If not enough people are willing to pay Kabbaz' prices, he will either lower them or go out of business. Up to the mid 1960s you had true couturiers, a few people (mostly based in Paris) who made garments for very rich women, based on absolute excellence of design, materials and workmanship. (Today couture collections are just a promotional tool for prêt-a-porter, perfumes or whatever a designer name sells.) To have a garment made by Dior, Balenciaga or Chanel would have cost an absolute fortune. So what, there were some people who could afford it and did pay the prices asked. There are plenty of things, which I am not likely, ever, to be able to afford in my life, there are other things that I could afford, but I do not consider them to be good value. It is my decision and other people might come to a different one. Who am I to call people "gullible" if they buy product X. Some of the accusations slung at Mr Kabbaz, are simply ludicrous, if he uses the names of past and present clients, so what. Here in London are plenty of shops that hold a Royal Warrant: they boast with the fact that they supply their merchandise to members of the Royal family. He operates from expensive premises in the Hamptons. Exclusive shops are in expensive areas of town. Rents in Bond Street, Via Montenapoleone or Fifth Avenue are never cheap. Yes ultimately as a customer you have to pay for rent, shop fitting, staff etc. unless you buy in some outlet store in the middle of nowhere. Mr Kabbaz, as I have said, I've never seen one of your shirts. But if you strive for excellence, you have my full support. Maybe you achieve perfection in shirt making, maybe you fall somewhat short of it. But perfection (or the nearest thing to it) is certainly a goal worth aiming for.
post #67 of 78
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Some of the accusations slung at Mr Kabbaz, are simply ludicrous, if he uses the names of past and present clients, so what
Problem is that several customers noted on his Website and which he noted in this forum were never his clients.
Addendum: but who were clients of the Kabbaz company. You're like a whiny little kid going "nuh uh. nuh uh. nuh uh." I forget the part where you claim to see a Kabbaz shirt, in person, at the store. Maybe that should be your qualifier instead of poring over semantics. He keeps a professional website for crying out loud, so why wouldn't he give Jon Green the title of "custom tailor"? Would it look any better if he had put "Jon Green, salesman" there? Would that be professional? And yeah, maybe he should put a disclaimer on his website for those of you too dense to understand that a company can't serve a list of clients spanning more than several decades. gg
post #68 of 78
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I make shirts 3 days a week and run the Gallery & Art School the other 4 days.
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It takes us 8 to 12 hours to make one shirt here.
You make 10-15 shirts per week. Based on your claim of how much time it takes you to make a shirt, this translates to 80-180 hours of shirtmaking per week. If you make shirts 3 days a week as you say, there are not even 80 hours in 3 days. Even otherwise, this means 11-26(?) hours per day if you were to make shirts 7 days a week. I assume that you and your wife have the assistance of a team of sempsters and seamstresses.
post #69 of 78
In the words of the great sports writer Jimmy Cannon, "Nobody asked me, but..."
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semantics. He keeps a professional website for crying out loud, so why wouldn't he give Jon Green the title of "custom tailor"? Would it look any better if he had put "Jon Green, salesman" there? Would that be professional?
My $.02 (To further kick a dead horse): Maybe it's just my old-fashioned Midwestern roots, but I believe wholeheartedly that integrity in one's business affairs is everything, and the foundation of integrity is honesty, plain and simple. This should not be an issue of semantics, although, sadly, it often is in today's world and it's sad that it's so accepted matter-of-factly. I don't know if this fellow Mr. Green is an actual tailor or not, but as the grandson of a formally trained tailor, and a damned good one (a man who dedicated his life to his love of his work), I do take personal umbridge with those who have tried to argue that someone who is not a tailor can nevertheless "pass" as a tailor, and, thus, can be included in the noble profession of tailoring...all in the name of the almighty dollar. If this is the case with Mr. Green---and I don't know it is---it not only is unethical in that it constitutes in my mind deceptive business practices, but infinitely more important, it devalues the work of those truly skilled tailors who have earned that title through tireless work and dedication to their craft...and usually, not making a lot of money in the process. And, that is not a matter of semantics. OK, now I'll get off my high horse.
post #70 of 78
Thread Starter 
learydenis I am not quite sure how this is going to improve your knowledge of shirtmaking, but here's your answer: Including my wife and myself, there are five of us. We work 3 days. My head seamster and I work roughly from 7am until 9pm. The other three work 8-10 hours depending on what we need to accomplish that day. At times I also work on certain projects during the other 4 days when nobody else is working in the studio. You know, peace & quiet and all that jazz. Is this mathematical exercise leading somewhere? kirkland: Jon Green does not claim to be a tailor. Having made shirts for many of the better NY tailors and thusly having suits from a quite few of them ... and having seen suits from all of them over the years, it is I who claim that using Jon's services is going to get you a better suit than you'll get from most others. Again, Jon does not claim to be a tailor.
post #71 of 78
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Having made shirts for many of the better NY tailors and thusly having suits from a quite few of them
Mr. Kabbaz: Perhaps you could drop the names of those tailors for whom you've made shirts. I am seeking the services of an excellent tailor in New York, as others are, too, and references would be most helpful.
post #72 of 78
Thread Starter 
kirkland
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Mr. Kabbaz: Perhaps you could drop the names of those tailors for whom you've made shirts. I am seeking the services of an excellent tailor in New York, as others are, too, and references would be most helpful.
I would hope you'd agree that I've stepped in it enough just speaking about shirts. Now you want me to open myself up to a whole new strategic front? The mere thought has Marc39 out there salivating over his sword, Learydenis putting a new roll of paper in his calculator, and Cherrytree wondering ... if Kabbaz is that much of a fool ... why am I his client. Can't you just see it. Marc frantically on the phone trying to reach Raphael to find out what he should say next. Ahhh, the thought tempts so strongly. I'll consider your request. Thank you for asking.
post #73 of 78
I also own a custom shirtmaking business in NYC. I will not call my self a shirtmaker since I do not want to upset several of the members. I will not pick up a short knife and butcher $30 worth of fabric. I can turn on a sewing machine but that is my limit. I can cut off the correct amount of fabric and hand it to one of my tailors who then will follow my cutting instructions. I can sew a button on as well. Maybe even mark a shirt for a monogram. I Have known Alex Kabbaz for many of the over 20 years I have been in business. In fact I met him at his first shop on East 35th St. A stones throw from the mid-town tunnel. Not a glamorous location. I appreciate  that Alex is self taught. He made a fusing machine when he was not happy with what was available. He fixed up all sorts of machines and folders to facilitate his production. Someone recently asked me if I thought his shirts were worth the price. My answer was if the shirt fits you well and makes you feel good while wearing it, then it is worth the price. I must admit that Alex has sent me many customers over the years who balked at his prices. Not all shirtmakers claim to make the finest shirt. I know what goes into making the finest shirt. Go find a shirt made by Lanvin in Paris. My Father had them made there many years ago. That is in my opinion the finest shirt I have ever seen. The finest shirts are very expensive. Out of reach of most people who want or need shirts made for them Of course I have many more customers who are willing to pay $85-$175 for a shirt then $600. What makes a perfect shirt? One that the owner is comfortable wearing, and that they feel good in. I have made many shirts for customers that I felt did not fit the customer very well. Collars too big or the wrong shape. Fit too tight or too loose. I suggest what I think would look better. I am not going to throw a customer out because he won't wear the shirt the way I think it should look. I only get rid of customers who have been to too many good shirtmakers and are still not happy. Customer Loyalty is  what keeps me in business. I will gladly answer any questions posted by memebers of this forum Carl G CEGO Custom shirts www.cego.com
post #74 of 78
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Suits in no particular order other than alphabetical: Jon Green, Vincent Nicolosi, and Frank Shaddock.
Jon Green: Are Jon Green's garments farmed out to "LS Tailors"? If so, stay away from Green. Be sure to find out who makes his garments before you enlist his services. An investment banking friend had suits made by LS and he says they were the worst "investment" he ever made---LS is the Enron of tailors, you'll lose your shirt (no pun intended). Frank Shattuck: Excellent classically-trained tailor in the old-school, artisanal way. Frank literally makes the entire garment himself, from cutting the pattern to actually sewing the garment, so turn-around time can be long, and prices high, but this is one instance where you get what you pay for.
post #75 of 78
For those who may question my credibility or motives, pasted below is the message that Carl G(oldberg) sent me via email. I would not normally share email, which is by nature private, but the nature of Carl's letter gave me no choice. If I were in the industry, why would I have posted the information that I did? American Sember's address and phone number are there for all to see on the garment district's web site and on the yellow pages web site. Why is Carl so worried about the general public having knowledge of the industry? Why so secretive, Carl? Have you got something to hide?
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Who gave you the right to print the Name address and phone number of American Sember? American Sember is a industry resource. A wholesale company. They will now be innundated with calls from the o-c people on this site for information on fabric. They sell to the trade only. Are you in the trade? I am. You also have given way too much information to the general public. Carl G CEGO
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