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Vass discontinuing US sales? - Page 10

post #136 of 174
Vass really doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same title as a thread mentioning seven fold thongs. Jcusey, you are a bad man.
post #137 of 174
Do we have varying definitions of "cool"? Are we simply talking over each other's heads? For someone that appreciates bespoke quality -- the very type of person that goes bespoke (and perhaps the only type, as implied by some posts here) -- the amount of handwork and love that goes into the product is "cool." By "cool" I don't mean trendy, or fashionable, or of "bling value." Rather, I mean that it is something that deserves non-aesthetic appreciation -- appreciating the handwork qua handwork, as opposed to appreciating the handwork because it equals a better fit and appearance.
post #138 of 174
This has certainly taken on a life of it's own...and an interesting topic in general. I have hesitated to chime in, as I have met with Gabor and like him, and his shoes, a great deal. I wish everyone that knocked on my door was as honest, passionate, polite and well-versed as Gabor is. Not only that, but the shoes are truly a work of art - as honest as Gabor himself. I count myself lucky to know not only Gabor, but his shoes, as well. I recently obtained a pair of Budapesters myself and they quickly have become a favorite. Also, I have had a few of 'my' customers either call or email me in regards to Vass shoes, and in each case I have encouraged the customer to purchase from Gabor, as I believe that the product will far outperform the investment as well as find a unique place in each gentleman's wardrobe. Unfortunately, when considering the wholesale distribution of the line, this is not enough. Since both Gabor and Andrew have posted here, and in some detail, in regards to their business, I thought it might be useful to add a few points. For the record, this is nothing that I have not said to Gabor in person, and for some time. The idea that a business based on small, individual orders 'would not be welcome' is confusing to me. Considering that the workshop is based around either bespoke or customized orders taken by their own personnel in their own shop, the fact that they do not want to encourage the same level of service to their American customers is illogical. If a UK factory can send a small entourage to America to take bespoke orders twice (or more) a year than a bespoke house should as well. That's Vass' strength - sell it. On the other hand, if Vass want's it's American distribution to be stock oriented, than they need to 'hold the bag' a bit more than they seem willing to do. If you want to sell stock than you need to have stock here; and in depth. Why would a buyer take a chance on a new line, that, chances are, few in their market are familiar with, without any advertising support, and in a construction that requires a great deal of explanation, and in patterns/lasts that are a departure from what they are familiar with and in a price that is far above anything else they invest in, if the factory is not willing to invest in the market themselves? People like me are always looking for something unique, and the fact that they need to be explained is actually a plus, but we like to be on the limb WITH someone, not by ourselves. If Vass wants 30 - 40 K PO's (and this would really only get the store a moderate selection of sticks) then they ought to be able to replace those shoes as they sell immediately. If I'm gambling that kind of money, I can't wait 4-8 weeks for an 11 to be replenished. Also, I can't agree with the idea that Vass shoes cannot be sold via the Internet. Comparing the Far East with America is not comparing apples-to-apples; the population in the Far East is much more condensed, urban and quality oriented than America is. When you consider that $850 is a very fair price for a pair of Vass shoes, you also have to consider that $850 is still alot of money for a pair of shoes - and the air up there is pretty thin. In America, outside of the big 3 population centers who still have urban workforces, a retailer really needs the option to sell on-line...and custom. IMO, there is just not enough trade to turn a profit otherwise. Frankly, if I did not have the on-line component to my business, I would not be considering the line as I am. Finally, and this is a direct comment (and please take it as an honest comment from someone who wants you to succeed), I hope your not serious about what happened with LB. I can assure you, stores don't drop profitable lines and the notion that they are no longer carrying the line because 'that's what they do - they are famous for it' is extremely naive. Find out what went wrong and fix it. You don't need them - many brands are successful without receiving a check from LB each month, but you do need to address what happened. Finally, what I am trying to say here is that it really has little to do with the shoes. If class, quality, honesty, good intentions and value, in both people and product, were enough, then there is no doubt Gabor and Vass would both be extremely successful here - unfortunately, it's not...
post #139 of 174
I might personally become a bespoke customer one day, but I will certainly not place the handiwork level at the top of my list of importance - I think johnnynorman pretty much nailed down every reason why the customer (like me, who doesn't know/care about handiwork) would go bespoke. And there is absolutely a level of coolness in owning an item that is the result of hundreds of years of developing traditions and passed down skills of trade. Some guy's paid $40,000 for an unwashed, unworn 1940s Levis jacket. I'm not sure exactly what rationale causes them to make a purchase like this but I imagine it relates to my above statement. Maybe just to own a true piece of Americana.. and to some, that is cool.
post #140 of 174
Rider, your brief treatise on page fourteen (.) is one of the most sensible I've read in quite some time. Well put. On another topic: many here have stated quite rightly that names such as Kabbaz and Vass aren't bandied about like Armani is because they aren't as well known and, hence, are not as "cool." That's very true indeed. However, the following exchange DOES happen all the time: "Hey, Frank, nice shirt. What label is it?" "Thanks. It's a custom job...cost me four bills." [Low whistle of amazement, oohing and aahing, and much strutting on the part of the owner ensue.] Notice that not once did a label name come up. No, I know that not all bespoke clients are such boorish pigs, but to claim that they aren't out there is looking at the world of bespoke clientele through rose-colored spectacles.
post #141 of 174
No, johnnynorman, we do not have varying definitions of cool. Proper bespoke clothing is the kind you don't remember you are wearing because everything about it is right and you are busy doing whatever you do ... not thinking about your clothing. There is nothing cool about it.
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I might personally become a bespoke customer one day, but I will certainly not place the handiwork level at the top of my list of importance - I think johnnynorman pretty much nailed down every reason why the customer (like me, who doesn't know/care about handiwork) would go bespoke.
If you neither know or care about the quality of work in a bespoke garment, not only would you be wasting your money, but the top bespoke makers will reject you as a client.
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If class, quality, honesty, good intentions and value, in both people and product, were enough, then there is no doubt Gabor and Vass would both be extremely successful here - unfortunately, it's not...
And Rider, though this is a quick jump back to the title topic (how could you do that?) for the record I do not agree with you. I think the characteristics you just cited are the basic building blocks of all top-level niche businesses.
post #142 of 174
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And that brings us to another problem - that of people in the industry not being able to tell the difference between a handmade and a machine made shoe. Horace argues that handwork carries no real benefit, that is really just a fetish. I do not agree, but our opinions are irrelevant, because at this point in time, handmade clothing is perhaps the biggest 'brand name' in the clothing business. Buyers can tell the difference with suits, I've seen them drop popular lines because the maker replaced handwork with labor-saving machine work in relatively minor areas.
I've never argued that handwork is not without aesthetic or functional benefit. I've just doubted the extent to which handwork benefits clothing & shoes. There was a thread, which I cannot find now, where you made some good points, in response to a few questions of mine, concerning specifically where functional improvements are to be had through making a shoe by hand. I've recalled this fact several times. That handwork still continues in our post-industrial society is remarkable. And worthy of praise. But handwork may still be fetishized as it is in many discussions on these boards and by certain makers.
post #143 of 174
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I think the characteristics you just cited are the basic building blocks of all top-level niche businesses.
I couldn't agree with you more. I can only hope that my customers see me in half the positive light I view Gabor in; however, Gabor is not as interested here in dealing directly with the public as he is in dealing with retail Buyers like me, so the agenda get's a bit more...complicated.
post #144 of 174
Quote:
I've just doubted the extent to which handwork benefits clothing & shoes.
I guess it comes down to: can you afford it? If getting handmade shoes prevents you from getting pants and shirt then don't get the handmade shoes and wear pants. To many people the question is not more or less handiwork/details/etc the question is handmade shoes or (machine made shoes + pants). If you don't have the money to get Vass shoes + pants then I would not get the handiwork and would buy pants instead. To those for whom money is not an issue then yes the question is do I care about all the details. Plebeian like myself can just forget about it. Mathieu <- needs to rob another bank
post #145 of 174
I highly, strongly and emphatically suggest everyone read the shoe book that Vass puts out - you'll never buy a cheap shoe again. Can't wait for mine to come in... but waiting makes it almost more fun. When Santa Gabor delivers them I will be like a kid at Christmas.
post #146 of 174
Alex, I'm not meaning to beat a dead horse here, and you are obviously touchy about this particular line of questioning, but my curiosity is peaked and I am rather intrigued by the fact that (from the outside looking in) your stance on the matter seems rather anachronistic. From your previous posts, I gather that frequently you charge sometimes as much as $6000 per finished product. And frequently require that the customer fly you in for fittings and etc. I understand that it takes many different fittings so that YOU are happy with the finished product and I somewhat understand the physical labor involved in such a process. But if I am to understand your posts in THIS thread correctly, you claim that the exclusivity of your product plays ABSOLUTELY NO ROLE in your customers selection of you to be their tailor. But again, you charge in the neighborhood of a quarter of many peoples annual income for your finished product. Therefore it is unavailable to the general public. By nature isn't that completely exclusive? Isn't part of the thrill of custom made clothing the fact that nobody else is wearing what you are wearing? If the craftsmanship and experience was the sole reason people bought shirts from you, why not only make shirts out of one kind of fabric? That way people wouldn't be distracted by the fact that they are perhaps some of the best fitting shirts that money can buy and the experience that you get from personally 'connecting' with a shirtmaker, tailor, or whatever is awesome.. And yet the fact is this - not only do you have to have a lot of money to buy your shirts, you also have to be deemed worthy of owning the shirts themselves by the man who is making them. Maybe I'm just not rich enough to understand the nuances of the market or something, but I can't think of any products off the top of my head that are any MORE exclusive than hand made, full custom/bespoke. And the people who buy it know that.
post #147 of 174
Quote And that is what I was talking about earlier -- Unless you have an INCREDIBLY discerning eye, you can't tell a handmade shoe apart from a machine made shoe until you put it on your foot. I have no doubt that if a customer who was deciding between Edward Green and Vass -- assuming equivalent style and fit -- put both shoes on his feet, he would feel the superiority of Vass in a heartbeat. Depends on the person wearing the shoes, as feet are as individual as snowflakes. A handmade shoe won't necessarily offer a better fit nor a greater degree of comfort just by virtue of being handmade---Handmade *custom* certainly, but not simply handmade. There's a good chance that if five men with shoe size 11, for example, were convened to try on size 11 handmade shoes from Vass or any other handmade shoe for that matter, the shoes might not fit everyone precisely across the board. Now, if 5 men were to wear custom made Vass shoes, that's a different scenario that would likely yield more consistent results. Although, still, I know those who complain about the discomfort of their fancy "bespoke" shoes. My relatively inexpensive, factory made JP Tod shoes are, indeed, more comfortable than any of my handmade and even custom made shoes. And, my New Balance sneakers are the most comfortable of all. Thus, handmade shoes have limited *practical* advantages, other than the possible extended life of the shoes, and an appreciation of same often comes down to admiration of the art and craft that goes into handmade products. Grayson
post #148 of 174
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(Tokyo Slim) From your previous posts, I gather that frequently you charge sometimes as much as $6000 per finished product.
I wish I could get the decimal point to move that easily, but the correct numbers for cotton shirts are $600 - $900 not including the so-called "Italian" collar. As for the rest, y'all ask someone else. I'm done.
post #149 of 174
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The idea that a business based on small, individual orders 'would not be welcome' is confusing to me.
I don't pretend to know what other consumers think or to have studied how they behave, but to me, this is an important point. I buy a lot of special order shoes. They far outnumber the stock shoes that I own. It's a big deal to me to be able to specify exactly what I want, especially when I'm spending as much as Vass shoes cost and when Vass has so many interesting models that most retailers probably wouldn't order in quantity (how many retailers would ever have ordered those side-lace shoes on P2, Gabor?). I understand that producing special orders can screw up the production flow to some extent, although I would think that this disruption would be relatively much less at a place like Vass than it would be at Allen-Edmonds, for example. Fine. Charge me more. If it's reasonable, I can live with it. What discourages me is when a maker (Crockett & Jones, for example) is actively hostile to special orders. It's not a coincidence that I own few C&J shoes. It's also not a coincidence that I do as much business as I do with people like Ron Rider and Jim Pierce (Harold's in the Heights), who actively encourage special orders; or that three of my favorite manufacturers are Gravati, Martegani, and Edward Green, all of whom are very special-order-friendly. And I should also include Vass here: all of my Vass shoes are either samples or special orders; and I have two more special orders in progress from the New York event. I don't know if Gabor and Andrew had to beg and plead to get the factory to be willing to do this; but whatever they did, I'm very appreciative of it. Obviously, I'm enthusiastic about Vass shoes because of the price relative to other makes of Vass's level of quality, because of the outstanding product, and because Gabor and Andrew are such a delight to work with. But I'm also enthusiastic because they've been willing to let me do my own thing to a large extent. I hope that that doesn't change.
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Also, I can't agree with the idea that Vass shoes cannot be sold via the Internet. Comparing the Far East with America is not comparing apples-to-apples; the population in the Far East is much more condensed, urban and quality oriented than America is. When you consider that $850 is a very fair price for a pair of Vass shoes, you also have to consider that $850 is still alot of money for a pair of shoes - and the air up there is pretty thin. In America, outside of the big 3 population centers who still have urban workforces, a retailer really needs the option to sell on-line...and custom.
I don't see a problem with retailers like yourself selling the shoes on the Internet. I do see a problem with the distributers doing it at a price guaranteed to undercut any retailers who also sell the product. You wouldn't exactly be happy if the US agent for Gravati started selling the shoes on the Internet for $250 or $300/pair, would you?
post #150 of 174
Quote:
your theory (how many men of affluence are going to spend the requisite number of hours being fitted?) is probably the least significant consideration of all. For men truly of affluence, when, where, and how often lie within their purview to mandate for hundreds ... or thousands ... or even hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. When and where they have to be ... and who besides themselves needs alter their schedules ... to accomplish their goals are usually nothing more than a note left for the secretary. "Book me at the Regency on Wednesday" or "Send Kabbaz a check for his plane tickets" have less significance than something really important, like whether to have a bagel or a croissant for breakfast.
Men truly of affluence.  My god, that is pathetic.  I'd rather spend time with my son than be fitted for a shirt.  Sorry, pal.
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