1. Welcome to the new Styleforum!

    We hope you’re as excited as we are to hang out in the new place. There are more new features that we’ll announce in the near future, but for now we hope you’ll enjoy the new site.

    We are currently fine-tuning the forum for your browsing pleasure, so bear with any lingering dust as we work to make Styleforum even more awesome than it was.

    Oh, and don’t forget to head over to the Styleforum Journal, because we’re giving away two pairs of Carmina shoes to celebrate our move!

    Please address any questions about using the new forum to support@styleforum.net

    Cheers,

    The Styleforum Team

    Dismiss Notice

Who pays for bespoke if its wrong?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by esquire., Oct 29, 2004.

  1. esquire.

    esquire. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,303
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    I'm not sure what really happened between Spalla of London Lounge and Darren the Saville Tailor in the askandy forum, but it made me wonder, "Who ends up paying if the item is wrong, or even if the customer is unhappy with it?"

    It seems only fair that the customer would still have to pay for it, because the tailor has already spent so much time and money on fabrics to make it. I can't believe Darren would really mess up a suit that badly. So, what if he did do a good job, but still not what the customer wants ultimately?
     
  2. Alias

    Alias Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,536
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2003
    Location:
    Washington DC
    There probably isn't a hard-and-fast rule to cover all situations. I think it's more on a case-by-case basis. However, I will say that, unless the work is tremendously shoddy, the customer would probably foot the bill. Even Mr. Grayson laid down $4,000 for the "failure" he got from Mr. Logsdail.

    And about that argument you're referring to... I never listen to either side of the issue. Both sides think they're in the right and have been wronged, and it's not my place to arbitrate.
     
  3. Bic Pentameter

    Bic Pentameter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    796
    Joined:
    May 1, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle
  4. stache

    stache Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    316
    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    I have done my share of consignment sewing and I can tell you that the most problems I have encountered is when a client can not explain what they want. Then there are some people who seem to enjoy wasting time demanding changes that they did not initinally request. The latter are usually charged an additional fee. The former get some hand holding while the problem is solved.
     
  5. brescd01

    brescd01 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    543
    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2004
    I am not a lawyer, but I play one on TV....just kidding, my dad is a lawyer and he explained a lot of things to me over the years. A court would be very unlikely to find in favor of the client in the case of a dispute, because it would look at the receipt, which is a record of a sort of contract, and he would see the goods and exchange of cash, and see that the customer agreed to pay for a good, which was delivered. Courts tend to favor the small merchant (I mean over the customer). I think a customer only has recourse to the merchant's business sense.

    My extreme suspiciousness about what merchants will do in case of problems very frequently prevents my doing business in many stores, and whether the merchants there are making good decisions by making me suspicious, only their ledgers can tell.

    That boutique where I have done very well with the d'Avenza garments, the owner Sam is nice but I recently discussed a MTM DB jacket from d'Avenza with him before I went to Centofanti. My feeling that if there were problems, he would do absolutely nothing to satisfy me, pretty much sunk my ever ordering MTM from him. When the merchant says "We never have problems," that has to be the most lame re-assurance I can hear.

    By the way, in reference to what Stache wrote, I can only share my own experiences: Mrs Harris deliberately ignored me when I asked for MOP buttons, my first shirt was made with plastic, and she would not change them. Centofanti ignored at least three requests I made for my DB jacket, that the sleeves be curtained, that he copy the lining design of my previous coat, and that the pockets be slanted. I could tell he would freak out if I made more than a passing reference to the features he had omitted and I let it drop. If I had insisted, there would have been problems and I probably would have lost a tailor.
     
  6. MPS

    MPS Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    217
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2003
    I've had problems before at the tailors. I ordered a blazer from Sam's in a nice super 150s wool about 2 years ago. I wanted hacking pockets. It came back at the second fitting with straight pockets. The conversation went something like this:

    Me - "It fits well, but you got the pockets wrong"
    Sam - "That's how you ordered it"
    Me - "No it isn't. I wanted hacking pockets - like the ones on the tweed suit I ordered last time"
    Sam - "But I'd have to re-cut the entire front of the garment to fix it"
    Me - "If you'd written down what I'd asked for, we wouldn't have had this problem. You'd better re-cut it."
    Sam - "OK"

    I've also had problems with the cuffs on one shirt at Jantzen's. I pointed this out at collection. Ricky's sidekick said (in "Canto-English") "I remember what you'd asked for. Sorry the shirt maker got it wrong. We'll have it ready by tomorrow".
     
  7. MilanoStyle

    MilanoStyle Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,674
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    I like that.
     
  8. globetrotter

    globetrotter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    20,605
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    greater chicago
    I don't know about you guys, but my tailor writes about 3 pages of instructions for each suit, and then gives me a copy. It wouldn't dawn on me for a second to pay for something that was "wrong".
     
  9. Shirtmaven

    Shirtmaven Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,335
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    NYC
    This is a situation that drives those in the industry to drink.

    If honest mistakes happen, and they do all the time. Then it is the responsibility of the Maker to correct the situation. If the Garment has some incorrect details but still fits correctly then sometimes an agrement betwen the seller and the customer can be worked out. Seller does not take a complete beating and the buyer gets something usable at a better cost. Hopefully both parties walk away somewhat satisfied.

    MPS Changing a set of cuffs on a shirt is a simple thing to do.
    Remaking an entire jacket is very costly. Would you have kept the jacket if he had offered you some sort of accomadation?

    MAybe in a court of law the seller might win. If you are paid by credit card then the customer is almost always right.

    My worst nightmare is when a new customer is used to wearing ill fitting garments and feel constricted by a shirt that fits well. This happened yesterday. Hopefully he will come back for a second order. This was after making him a second sample at my expense. At my prices I lose money doing this unless the customer turns out to be a regular client

    The other customer that drives me crazy is the one that picks apart minor stitching flaws. We are not talking about major errors, but start stop operations on a cuff that may be a tiny bit off. My answer is that your garment was made by a person who is not perfect. Not buy a soulless computerized sewing machine.

    It also drives me crazy when I find out a year later when I try to sell my custmer new shirts and find out that there was an order he was disatisfied with. Tell me at the time, that you are unhappy. This way I can correct the error.
    I have several customers who are restauranteurs. Most thrive on repeat business. They would rather know that day or even the next day that there was a problem with food or service, rather then never seeing you again.
     
  10. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    41,568
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2002
    Location:
    In Hiding
    I have had two experiences in which garments were simply unacceptable.  In the first, the tailor recut it.  He wasn't happy about it, but he knew that the issues couldn't be fixed any other way.  I still use that firm; everything has gone well ever since.

    In the second, I showed the the tailor the problems.  He apologized profusely and promised to recut.  Weeks later, I was presented with the exact same garment, marred by some disfiguring "fixes."  I pointed this out.  He responded with horror; he had not known; one of his outsource tailors had done the "fixes" without his knowledge; he woud correct the problem; he was so sorry.  Weeks later, I was presented, once again, with THE SAME garment, only more disfigured than before.  I politely asked for my deposit back.  There was an argument, but in the end I got my money back.  I have not used that firm since.

    I think there are really two categories here: 1) Garments that are merely "disappointing" for one reason or another; 2) Garments that are just wrong, either because of fit issues, or because instructions from the customer were not followed.

    Fit issues can by and large be corrected, if customer and tailor are patient enough.  Some garments that I have ordered have fit right from the beginning.  Others have taken any number of corrections.  I have not been shy about insisting (politely) that fit be corrected, and the tailors I have worked with have been obliging.

    Coats that are significantly too short or have some other inherent defect are another matter, as are garments that are simply not what the customer asked for.

    [As an aside: Dr. Bresch, I believe Centofanti did you a favor by not slanting the pockets on your DB jacket.  Those "hacking pockets" area sporting detail that don't quite look right on a sharp, city jacket like your DB.  Of course, he should have talked you out of them, rather than simply acting unilaterally.  I have been to stubborn tailors like this; one has to decide for oneself whether their skills outweigh their stubbornness.  In the case of Centofanti, I believe they do.]

    I don't have a lot sympathy for those who are simply "disappointed" by finished clothes, and who blame the tailor.  If there are recognizable fit issues, ask the tailor to correct them.  Give him a chance.  If you simply don't like a suit, but don't feel confident enough to bring it to the tailor with specific complaints, that's a pretty good sign that he didn't do anything wrong.

    I have even less sympathy for those who get angry at a tailor because they don't like his silhouette.  I think it's incumbent on us as consumers to figure out what we like and what we want BEFORE we order.  Even then, we may not always be entirely happy with the finished product.  I have ordered suits that, when finished, fit perfectly, but whose silhouette I did not entirely care for.  How is that the tailor's fault?
     
  11. Leo Jay

    Leo Jay Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    212
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    As someone unfamiliar with the custom experience, my first time around, I would appreciate being fitted by a tailor who was eager to educate me on the benefits of one fit over another... but ultimately I would hope that they would respect my judgement about what makes me feel most comfortable.  If I'm uncomfortable in the clothes I'm wearing, I'm not likely to return, regardless of whether anyone else is convinced that it is the 'proper' fit.
     
  12. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    9,452
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Not quite. Legally, you do not have to pay the full price if the suit is not what you contracted for. This would, of coure, be hard to prove. As the attorney, I would produce 1) the three pages of instructions that globetrotter mentions and show how certain conditions were not met and/or 2) expert witnesses to point out areas in which the suit is lacking in quality compared to what every bespoke suit must have. You would not pay, and the tailor would sue you for expectancy damages (seeking to recover the full contract price.) If the court found certain areas of the suit lacking, he would not win. Instead, he would recover based on your "unjust enrichement" - a benefit has been confered on you and you have not paid for it - so the court would make you pay to the extent that you have been enriched: say, $3,000 out of the full $4,000 contract price. Alternatively, if you paid in advance you also could recover based on your own expectation damages - i.e. you paid for a $4,000 suit and did not get one. You would win at trial. Your damages would be based on contract price minus value of goods received. In other words $4,000 minus the $3,000 value of the messed up suit, giving you damages of $1,000. In both cases, you end up paying the same for the suit, i.e. less than full contract price. You are not legally obliged to pay for something if it is not what you bargained for.
     
  13. AlanC

    AlanC Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,805
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Location:
    Heart of America
    I must say, as one who is admittedly not near the bespoke world at this point, all of this is a bit off-putting. For those without the excess cash to gamble on bespoke, expensive RTW at a discount seems like the much safer way to go.

    Is it any wonder that bespoke has been in decline?
     
  14. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    41,568
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2002
    Location:
    In Hiding
    There is always some risk with bespoke, no doubt about it. The best "insurance" is to learn as much as you can about proper fit; learn what silhouette you like; research the tailors thoroughly; talk to your tailor at the outset and make clear your expectations; and then be patient through the fitting process. Even then, there are no guarantees. But done well, the finished garment will be something that is not achievable in RTW, in my opinion.
     
  15. globetrotter

    globetrotter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    20,605
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    greater chicago
    Frankly, I think that part of the problem is "celebrity" tailors and shirtmakers. I have a pretty good shirtmaker and a pretty good tailor. My 3rd of each. My first tailor died, my second was pretty good, my 3rd much better. my first shirtmaker was pretty good, my second bad, my 3rd much better. none of the lot were famous. All recomended to me by people who I thought were in a position to know.

    I pay reasonable prices for what I get, and I think that they have done good work for me. I have a lot of control over the process, and I know what I want. I can't imagine my shirtmaker or tailor trying to change the cut of my pocket because he thought he knew best.

    I wouldn't be intimidated, as long as you are informed about what you want. but I wouldn't go to a tailor who thought he could buly you because he is a "Star".
     
  16. Leo Jay

    Leo Jay Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    212
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    I think that while there are no guarantees, in the end, a little common sense can probably go a long way in avoiding problems: I likely wouldn't trust a tailor with my $4,000 investment unless he* was recommended by someone I trusted, and unless I came away from our initial conversation with a good feeling about his work process and general manner.

    *Are there any women menswear tailors out there? There must be, right...?
     
  17. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    41,568
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2002
    Location:
    In Hiding
    There are two issues here: fit and silhouette.

    In certain respects, all suits should fit the same way no matter their silhouette.  For instance, if the jacket collar stands away from the shirt collar and refuses to lie flush against the shirt collar, then the jacket doesn't fit properly.  If there is a gathered "ridge" of cloth -- sort of a long, horizontal ripple -- high on the jacket's back, just below the collar, then the jacket doesn't fit properly.

    Other issues which seem like fit issues are more properly considered matters of silhouette.  Example: it is a hallmark of certain makers of the "Drape" silhouette to make a lightly padded (or wadded) natural shoulder that extends slightly (1/2" or so) beyond the physical shoulder.  This "extension" is meant to "droop" downward at the sleevehead, giving the shoulder a very rounded, natural look.

    Now, someone used to having their jacket's shoulders end right on the deltoid might consider this an example of improper fit.  In my view, this is incorrect.  It is more precisely a characteristic of a silhouette that this hypothetical customer doesn't like.

    All I'm saying is, know what you want before you order.  Know the tailor's style before you order.  That way, there will be no surprises, and everyone will be happy.
     
  18. Bic Pentameter

    Bic Pentameter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    796
    Joined:
    May 1, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle
    All of these are factual questions, Â not easily dealt with in the abstract. Â I have never partaken of the bespoke experience, but wonder if every tailor provides 3 pages of specs that she agrees the product that she will deliver will meet. Â Manton's discussion of fit vs. silhouette is interesting. Â Particulalry given the talk on this board that so few among the general popluation appreciate fine clothing, I would shudder at the thought of trying to convince a factfinder that the silhouette was not what the purchaser bargained for, particularly if (in a benchtrial) the judge were a fan of the Brooks Brother's sack suit, or (if in a jury trial), half of them were decked out in loose fit Gap jeans. Bic
     
  19. j

    j Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,914
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    As an employee of a contractor, and one who works on contract work, I can tell you there are a few iron clad rules that are in common between all trades, for everyone's benefit:

    1. Get it in writing.
    2. Get it in writing.
    3. Get it in writing.

    The best way to assure that you never have to worry about this is to produce detailed specifications before the project commences. I know this can be boring, but believe me, the biggest conflicts we have had with customers were when they didn't have an architect and a detailed spec, and we 'misinterpreted' their hand-wave and couldn't read their mind properly. Best would be to find that three-page form that globetrotter has and copy it, and fill it out thoroughly for every project. Include drawings, photos, etc. More detail from the outset will exponentially decrease the chances of your being unhappy with the finished product, and in the case of a dispute, it is easily resolved.

    As for disputes, we tell our customers that if they are unhappy with the product, they should tell us, and if they are happy, they should tell their friends. Obviously an honorable person will give the contractor (tailor) a chance to fix the problem, or agree on a concession (lower price) to live with the problem. In the latter case, however, it is my experience that they are never as happy, as should be obvious. In the case of a suit, you can always refuse delivery of the product, and if you don't have good references for the tailor's reputation, you should buy it on a credit card so that you will have more power in dispute resolution.
     
  20. globetrotter

    globetrotter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    20,605
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    greater chicago
    it wasn't so much a form, my tailor has a simple drawing of a pair of pants, a jacket and a waistcoat, and then a chart for my measurements. if my measurements changed between orders, he would change them on the chart. then there were various notations - types of pockets, brace bottons, db or sb, label shape, vents, sleeve botton holes, etc. Then he gave me a copy and stapled a piece of fabric to it. If there was something unusual, for instance the shape of the waistcoat, the fabric for the lining, the type of botton, all went on the order form.

    I thought that this was common practice.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by