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Vass discontinuing US sales?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by kabert, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. lisapop

    lisapop Well-Known Member

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    Giving shoes the boot--Now, that's a bad pun.
    Grayson
     
  2. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Well-Known Member

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    There seems to be a general misconception on this forum regarding this particular subject. Perhaps that derives from the fact that the majority of the posts demonstrating this lack of understanding are written by those who are not (yet) men of affluence. A looooong time ago, many on this forum took umbrage at my statement that, prior to taking a new client, an interview between that client and I is an integral part of the process without which I do not begin. This is exactly why. The entering of a hopefully-forever relationship between maker and client is one which requires compatibility between the two and agreement upon common goals. In the case of Kabbaz shirts, to suffer myself as an example, perhaps the potential client is seeking the bright, loosely unfit, somewhat foppish look of a Flusser creation or the dreadfully soft, bloussant appearance of a "neapolitan" styled shirt. Could I do that? Yes. Would I be the best at it? Possibly, but I doubt it. Would it be my preference - and, hence, would my love of my craft be as evident in the final creation? No, not to the degree I demand. And that interview would terminate in my suggestion that the client seek a more like-minded maker. The other side of the coin would be a client who is in complete accord with one of the many styles of shirt I love to make. (No, don't ask - it is only for purposes of illustration that I have above listed two styles which I do not consider my strongest virtues.) When this occurs, which is the majority of the time, 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. To put this in the context of this discussion (Surely, there is a minority of buyers who possess the financial means and interest for supporting a market), this statement is true. However, for truly niche creators such as myself and Vass, this minority comprises our majority. It is this majority to whom we cater, it is this majority upon whom our business plans are modeled, and Andrew's slow, patient attempts to convey this message are emminently on target. As a closing example, the client I met for a fitting in New York two Wednesdays ago was, at my suggestion, in Budapest to meet Laszlo Vass for a fitting Monday past (and with a friend who trotted along for the trip and a pair of bespokes), back in New York for me Wednesday past, and will be there again this coming Wednesday. In between, other important things were on the agenda, like golf in Ireland, skiing in Vail, and a few requisite board meetings in various of the afforementioned countries. Copyright Â[​IMG] 2004 Alexander S. Kabbaz w/t "Shirtmaker" . All rights reserved.
     
  3. T4phage

    T4phage Well-Known Member

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    Conversely, how many men of affluence are going to spend the requisite number of hours being fitted for a suit in London? Â Drive out to Long Island or meet with Mr. Kabbaz on multiple occasions for shirts?
    There seems to be a general misconception on this forum regarding this particular subject. Perhaps that derives from the fact that the majority of the posts demonstrating this lack of understanding are written by those who are not (yet) men of affluence..... ....To put this in the context of this discussion (Surely, there is a minority of buyers who possess the financial means and interest for supporting a market), this statement is true. However, for truly niche creators such as myself and Vass, this minority comprises our majority. It is this majority to whom we cater, it is this majority upon whom our business plans are modeled, and Andrew's slow, patient attempts to convey this message are emminently on target. As a closing example, the client I met for a fitting in New York two Wednesdays ago was, at my suggestion, in Budapest to meet Laszlo Vass for a fitting Monday past (and with a friend who trotted along for the trip and a pair of bespokes), back in New York for me Wednesday past, and will be there again this coming Wednesday. In between, other  important things were on the agenda, like golf in Ireland, skiing in Vail, and a few requisite board meetings in various of the afforementioned countries. Copyright Â[​IMG] 2004 Alexander S. Kabbaz w/t "Shirtmaker" . All rights reserved.
    Alex, there are also quite a few affluent people who do appreicate and purchase the 'finer things' but are so wedded to their careers that they simply do not have the time/patience to undergo the time needed for bespoke clothing. There is a person I know who travels to London at least once a month, but couldn't find the time to visit with the firms that were carrying out his orders for shoe and suits. It consequently took him nearly two years to take delivery of his commissions. I also think that their 'driven' personalities are the reasons for thier subsequent financial sucesses.
     
  4. alchimiste

    alchimiste Well-Known Member

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    What's the volume a dpt store needs to sell to keep a brand? From where (how far) do customers come? Needing to sell 100 pairs of shoes to customers from the whole country is not the same challenge as selling 10 000 pairs to locals.

    Mathieu
     
  5. lisapop

    lisapop Well-Known Member

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    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
     
  6. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Well-Known Member

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    No disagreement here. Those sans the necessary interest do not comprise the market I described:
     
  7. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Well-Known Member

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    I would say definitively for myself and venture to guess for Vass that if we were to entertain an order for delivery of 10,000 of anything, we would both be out of business in short order. To put that in perspective, 10,000 of anything from either of us is, at a minimum, $7,000,000.
     
  8. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Well-Known Member

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    Alex, I don't think we're in disagreement at all about the demographic purchasing your shirts. Â Based on our chat at the Collective, your clientele seems to possess money, time, and most importantly an interest in fine clothing/shirtings. Â I suspect that the cross-section that fulfills all of these requirements is a remarkable small percentage of the general population. Â I'd also wager that having a presence in and around NYC helps a lot for fitting, purchasing, interviewing, etc. Â Edit: gabor answered most of my questions in his post. I was willing to wager that Vass must conduct a fair amount of business in Japan, if there is little or no distribution in the United States. Hopefully Vass will establish a permanent point of sale somewhere in the United States and provide a little competition to Lobb and Lattanzi.
     
  9. Gabor Halmos

    Gabor Halmos Member

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    Gentlemen, I have been reading this thread with mixed feelings. I appreciate all your comments and the concerns about our business. I would like to add only one thing, what would answer most of your questions. It is our dream to be established in the US, we would be privileged, if American men would feel, understand and wore our shoes, but VASS doesn't rely on the US market, the annual production is 3,000-3,500 pairs, what sells with no problem in Europe and Japan (Btw our shoes cost much more in Japan than $1000...) So, our business here is not a struggle what some of you suggested earlier, but a quest to place Vass shoes in a place on the US luxury market, where it belongs, while presenting something that is distinctive, special and beautiful (please do not compare them to Chinese shoes [​IMG] ) ; and by the nature of the product not to start an internet, or mail order business, that could not do justice to the shoes as most of the few, who actually have seen them would agree. Gabor Halmos Vass Shoes
     
  10. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Well-Known Member

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    I agree.
     
  11. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I agree. If even a measureable percentage of luxury consumers were to desire to become my clients, I would not be able to handle it. As for Vass, see Gabor's post above.
     
  12. alchimiste

    alchimiste Well-Known Member

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    Of these potential customers how many are knowledgeable and interested in what they'll get and how many read an article in Departures and think yours shirts are fashionable/cool/etc? Basically how many are rich but clueless? Mathieu, maybe clueless definitely not rich
     
  13. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Well-Known Member

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    When I begin ... most. When I finish ... all.

    My shirts are not fashionable. They are a component of the image the client wishes to portray and, hopefully remain such timelessly. "Fashionable" is merely a profit-driven concept designed to assure that shitty quality attains obsolescence prior to disintegration.
     
  14. lisapop

    lisapop Well-Known Member

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    So, Gabor, can those in America, or at least in New York, still purchase the shoes through you?
    Grayson
     
  15. T4phage

    T4phage Well-Known Member

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    (discostu004 @ April 06 2005,21:39) i have a feeling they don't do too well w/ artioli
    Well, if the ones that I've seen in person and in pictures are any indication, good. Ugly, long-snouted witch's shoes.
    [​IMG] Amen, Amen.
     
  16. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

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    Maybe the question is ill posed. I wonder whether *all* of your clients are appreciative your shirts based *solely* on their quality, or whether at least some fraction of your clients are turned on by the prospect of having shirts that only a very select segment of the population can afford. I think that human nature dictates that at least some of your clients are attracted by the exclusivity of your shirts as much as by your handiwork and materials.
     
  17. A Harris

    A Harris Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it is. For an exclusive product, which is what many stores want to sell, the volume will always be very low, never enough to warrant much of an advertising budget.    


    a) English shoes are not more expensive, they are less expensive, and b) a good salesman is not going to, and will not need to make apologies for where the shoes are made.


    If that is true, I'm sure we'll see world-class shoes completely hand made in China show up at any time now...

    Louis pioneers brands - that is a big reason why they are so famous. They have dropped Lattanzi, Mantellassi, Weston, Edward Green, and just about every other top shoe brand before they carried Vass - and were probably the first to carries those lines as well. They are famous for dropping lines for a variety of reasons, and moving on to the next. You are speculating.

    In any event, what Gabor said is the most important. We certainly hope that US customers will be able to appreciate Vass shoes as the beautiful and unique product that they are. But if they don't, that's their loss.. It would just mean that more of the very limited annual production goes to appreciative customers in Europe and Japan.
     
  18. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Well-Known Member

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    mr. harris,

    i know this may not sound like a likely place, but i can really picture fred segal carrying vass, especially the u last.

    segal is one of those stores where the less a brand is known, the better.
     
  19. kabert

    kabert Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps Relish in DC also. (They currently are the only store in DC, other than to a very minor extent Neimans), to carry John Lobb.)
     
  20. Carlo

    Carlo Well-Known Member

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    Actually I think Alex's point is a good one ...if you want to see something of Vass's quality in your favorite store ask for them by name.

    I had never heard of them prior to the fora... nor many other superlative quality makers.

    Let's face it - if you asked 1000 guys who don't obsess as we do to name a top suitmaker you'd probably hear Armani a lot more often than Kiton or Oxxford. Shoes are the same thing.

    Want to see the good stuff grow and prosper (so we can get a better selection)?? Ask for it, expect it and demand it. I cringe at some stores who once carried multiple lines of high quality suits but now carry cheap junk under the correct assumption that 90% of the guys who walk through their door have no clue.

    Andrew & Gabor are great ambassadors, so are the guys here like Jcusey who are fans and know their footwear.

    Of course I may never forgive you guys for educating me on fine shoes. Some products require advertising, Vass requires only customer education.
     

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