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A visit to Astor & Black

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by xkmasada, Jul 21, 2007.

  1. VinnyMac

    VinnyMac Senior member

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    I guess it's not enough to hear it from other people. Sometimes you have to be burned to understand that fire is hot [​IMG]
     
  2. SelfMade

    SelfMade Active Member

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    So you can make an educated conclusion based off a 122 post thread, over the course of a few years, not all of which were negative? Interesting, I prefer to make my own decisions based on my experiences. I have yet to find a company that has not received negative comment based on someone's personal experience.

    As for my initial meeting with the sales representative from Astor and Black, I am still on the fence. While she clearly has knowledge in the field, she worked in the industry in Italy, and has been here for the past 5 years, I did not get a good feel of the services they provide. She arrived at my office with maybe half of the swatches A&B offer, and left the lining and button books in her office as well. While I initially liked the fact they would come to me, I made another appointment, but this time, on her turf. I DO however like their price points, much better than MAB and DQ. I mentioned to her my dissatisfaction for my patterns not lining up on my MAB suiting, she assured me that she checks all garments before she even wold call me back for a fitting. I appreciated that.

    After I meet one more time this Thursday, I will be able to provide a better assessment. Note, the deal on the suit I selected is dormeil fabric amedeus, fully canvassed, stitched, every fine detail, for under $1000.
     
  3. SelfMade

    SelfMade Active Member

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    Duplicate
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  4. taxgenius

    taxgenius Senior member

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    Please post pics of the final product.
     
  5. VinnyMac

    VinnyMac Senior member

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    Yes...PLEASE post pics of the final product. I'd like to see if you maintain your high and mighty, optimistic innocence.
     
  6. SelfMade

    SelfMade Active Member

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    If you consider being open-minded as optimism? I do not understand the attack against my judgment or character from you? If you choose to make decisions based off a minimal amount of comments against a company, that is fine, I honestly have no problem with that. I prefer to make my own decisions based on my experience. I took into consideration the comments I read on this thread, and voiced them to the representative I met with. She was honest and answered all my concerns. I do not believe the negative comments to be the overall consensus of the company. I have been on other blogs, blogs from their clothiers, where the fit and style of the pics of their clients are right on point. Should I only look at those blogs and make a decision, of course not. I take the good and the bad into consideration.

    Not to have this thread high-jacked, I have not actually made a purchase as of this moment, as I have my appointment for tomorrow. I had a brief meeting in my office yesterday, and like I stated, she was a tad unprepared.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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  8. taxgenius

    taxgenius Senior member

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    The pics can't come soon enough.
     
  9. bigtimebuck4

    bigtimebuck4 Senior member

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    by a 12-year-old in China...
     
    2 people like this.
  10. SelfMade

    SelfMade Active Member

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    I take it you have been to their overseas facilities
     
  11. bigtimebuck4

    bigtimebuck4 Senior member

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    No, I have not. Of course neither have you. However, I have spoken to a tailor in the area where the company was initially based (Columbus) who worked with the founder (david schottenstein) and he thinks the garments are complete crap. I also have met many "real people" (not style forum readers) who have had terrible experiences. But who knows... maybe the production standards are probably similar to Canali... [​IMG]
     
  12. VinnyMac

    VinnyMac Senior member

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    The Astor and Black sales rep' in my area uses the same tailor that I do to get his suits and his customer's suits fixed. I've had a few chats with him. I gather that a big part of their draw is the home/office visits; they make wannabes feel like big-timers...which isn't a bad idea. The actual product isn't any better or worse than your typical, mediocre mtm. It's just more pricey.
     
  13. OTCtailor

    OTCtailor Senior member

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    The build quality is between canali and Tom ford. I know this because I am a tailor and I've been inside of just about every major suit brand. Is it full bespoke quality? no, but it also doesnt cost 8k for a suit.
    Roughly 3 months ago, I was contacted by a&b to take a look at their clothier position as my area is unrepresented. I was already doing independent MTM and have always wanted to do that more than alterations because the money can be better for sure. I was hesitant about a&b mostly out of a want to stay independent but entering this business successfully is a real challenge and a&b certainly did offer a great platform. I knew they weren't a perfect outfit before I was even called in fact just go back a few posts and you'll see I kinda ripped them a bit BUT I decided to go with my gut and Go ahead and give it a shot working with them.
    Well, I went thru their sales training and while there I got plenty of time to really eyeball their garments not only from a fashion and style perspective but also from a tailoring perspective. I'm probably the only guy who's ever gone thru their sales training that they let rip a garment open in my hotel room to eye up the insides.
    The garments are built incredibly well. At the lowest price point of $650 for the basic plain weave grey, black, navy, navy and grey pin the suits are still half canvassed. The lapel edges are graded as well as the pockets. A step that must be done by hand. The collars are drawn on by hand. The lapels are auto machine pad stitched. The canvas is machine padded as well. Button holes are machined but hand sewn is an option. In fact, hand sewn canvassing is an option as well. The surgeons cuffs are completelyhand finished. Not the buttonholes, but the lining insertion and the way cuff is finished allows for a .5" up or down adjustment. that can only be done by hand. The linings are completely inserted by hand no matter the price point. I've not seen any problem with pattern matching. Pic stitching is done using a complett machine most likely. Working cuffs are standard. All linings are bemberg. There are no up charges for most of the personalized options. The price stated is the price you pay. All of this I was unaware of before my trip to their sales school. When I got all of this info it wasn't a very hard choice because the garments are very sellable. So far I've had very good success with almost every facet of their process. Do I notice little and/or big things that could use improvement? Of course I do. But I've worked on and owned canali. Worked on Tom James. Worked on Tom ford, brioni, and several other fantastic makes. The a&b garment can hang with all of those brands in fabric and build quality. In my opinion which you will all mostly say is biased, the make absolutely smashes canali and Tom James and is really right behind or on par with Tom ford and brioni. As long as measures are taken right and posture elements carefully discerned, the garment will fit just fine. Yes, most of the garments are made in China but it is a very high end facility. How do I know? Because I knew the factory liaison before I started with the company and I had seen a sample that came from this factory in a previous occasion. In fact, I handled the sample alongside another prominent tailor who regular comments in SF (I won't name him out of respect but how many are there on here???) while in NYC at a tailoring forum. We were both genuinely impressed. Imagine my surprise and comfort when I found out that this factory was making the a&b garments.
    I can and may very well post pics of what I'm claiming here. Not really a big deal to do that. However, the nature of this forum and this particular thread is such that it probably won't matter if I do or don't because there is so much cynicism.
    The a&b experience ultimately hinges on the clothier. The other major variables have really been nicely fine tuned. Production in the company has done a great job developing a streamlined fitting process. The merch team is headed up by one of the most knowledgeable guys in the entire industry who is owed a lot of credit for helping to build up Gladson who supplies tons of tailors and clothiers with quality cloth. We have some great clothiers as well as some maybe not so great but isn't this the story of every company out there with outside sales people?
    So, am I trying to convert any of you guys to a&b clients? Not at all. But, if you want a very competitively priced garment that very well can match up with these other stellar brands, I can and will confirm to anyone that the cynicism and fear over past stories of a&b can be let go of today. Ultimately, if what I'm saying is a complete sham and I'm just touting this company because I work for them, then I am a genuine idiot because I know the industry well. I know how to tailor suits myself and I know of most of the best background platforms that allow the independent tailor or clothier to compete in the marketplace dominated by cheaper rtw and online MTM. Why when I know all of this stuff would I decide to put my name on an a&b garment of it weren't what I'm saying it is? No amount of pay can fix a damaged reputation from selling a junk product so please don't say oh they must be paying you a bunch. No, it's just a simple thing...the company has matured out of a rocky upstart.
    Soon I will gladly post pics not only of the technical build related stuff but also of my own personal clients who I have fitted up with a&b garments who have given me permission to do so. I'll blur their faces out.
    If I'm going to camp out on this forum, I might as well offer up an apologetics style defense of a company I decided to go work for. Doing so isnt for my sake or necessarily for the company. Its for all of you who deserve a quality product at a competitive pricepoint but are still reading and believing old negative stories. And if anyone has any questions, ill gladly answer any of them openly so long as the answer does not reveal closely guarded info. Those types of questions are probably not relevant to the discussion anyway.
    One thing I will mention is that dormeuil Amadeus in our lines is not normally under $1000. I do not know the nature of the appointment and what fabric was viewed that selfmade went thru but we do have a kind of close out folder with shorter runs of higher end fabrics that price out at $995. There may be a dormeuil offering in there that hasn't sold out yet but traditionally a dormeuil Amadeus fabric suiting will be more than that. Quite a bit more, actually. It's priced just under Zegna, Marzoni, and LP.
    Hope this and future posts help.
     
  14. SelfMade

    SelfMade Active Member

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    You're correct it was from the "close-out" book. She was compelled to show me the book since it had a few Dormeil Amadeus swatches in there. I had mentioned to her up front, that is the cloth I prefer, as most of my garments are Dormeil Amadeus. I did have to supply her with a back-up choice, since she told me up front, she could NOT guarantee I could get the pattern I originally chose.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  15. SelfMade

    SelfMade Active Member

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    I can see the "wannabe" comment, I just had her meet me at my office because I hate driving into DC, plus I can rarely leave early, and when I do, it's usually to get my children. It is a good draw. But I am meeting her at her office today. After I realized the risk of her not having everything she needed on-hand.
     
  16. SelfMade

    SelfMade Active Member

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    I didn't make comment to how the garments are produced either. I have spoke with people who've had good and bad experiences. Anyone who "formerly worked with/for" I typically hold mild skepticism for, just a mechanism I cannot get passed. Good/bad for that matter. And to be completely honest, "custom" tailoring, I think a lot try thinking it'll be a life changer, and boost their esteem? It doesn't, and I think some are upset when they realize that. It's the "buyer's remorse" factor. I ONLY get my clothes cut to my measurements because I am literally a tough fit off the rack. I am 5'9', 140lbs (soaking wet) long distance runner with a metabolism that never slows down, and have a wing span of 6'2'. I have pronounced shoulder blades and basically a runners body. Not to mention, during race season, I am a 29" waist, with a 32.5 inseam and fairly decent sized thighs. I can literally find NOTHING that does not almost need to be completely re-cut top to bottom off the rack, and sleeves, forget about it. My tailor loves me.
     
  17. bigtimebuck4

    bigtimebuck4 Senior member

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    My tailor certainly disagrees, however that doen't make him right. From my experience handling both garments (not deconstructing) I wouldn't say the quality even approaches Canali, let alone exceeds it. I have also met many people who have had negative experiences, sometimes waiting almost a year to receive clothing. Even in Columbus, where to company was founded and David is from, the reputation is poor.

    I am curious though, when did you began working for A&B? I know the company was recently sold, who is the new owner group? Did you work for the company before or after the switch?
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  18. SelfMade

    SelfMade Active Member

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    The two pieces I highlighted and outlined, are the two reasons I wanted to visit them and see for myself. I hold everyone's opinion with a certain amount of value, but like you said, just because your tailor has an opinion that doesn't make him right. Nor, does the guy that works for the companies opinion make him right either. I want to see first hand, and take all the comments I have read into consideration, before I pass judgement. That is all I was saying initially.
     
  19. OTCtailor

    OTCtailor Senior member

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    I guess the quality breakdown could be viewed subjectively but it definitely surpasses canali. Keep your eyes out for pics later...

    The company is owned by a private equity firm based out of the northeast US. they're called Castanea Partners and they are a firm known for owning and developing retail brands such as Donald pliner and others. I started working for them after the switch and after the HQ was moved to Miami Florida. All of those elements combined with who their senior leadership is certainly indicated to me that they're a company looking to redefine retail for men. They're not out to replace or necessarily compete with the bespoke process. Their branding is "custom" but I submit to you that outside this forum, that definition is very murky these days in the eyes of the typical consumer who, by the way, does not prowl these forums. When the garment ends up fitting their body, they don't begin to nit pick those details apart. I couldn't stop my clients from buying by insisting that its not truly custom like bespoke. They literally wouldn't care. So, from a corporate perspective, it's a non issue. If people don't want to buy them because they get hung up on that little point of debate then they don't have to.

    So far as I've seen with my own two eyes after completing full sales cycles with multiple clients, for the quality it is at the price that it is with a person coming to you to get it done, there is simply no better option. I've seen brooks MTM using the same fabrics with the same methods of make and its an average $500+ more per garment. And you have to go there. And you're subject to "house style"
    With a&b, if you want a Tom ford look alike with wide lapels, strong shoulder, enlarged pocketing proportions 5 button cuffs, you pay no different than if you want a more classic style. Their are subtle differences that I think are relative to where the garment is made but our production ppl work very closely with the factories to constantly improve those small things. These things I'm referring to are the details that only <2% would notice let alone care about. And this is the simple reality based on my experience as a tailor.
     
  20. OTCtailor

    OTCtailor Senior member

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    Took technical pics today of a suit I'm delivering tomorrow. Will take fit pics of same suit and post all pics at once...
     

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