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Archibald London Hand Welted Shoes - preorder issues, discussion,and resolution.

Vachetta

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HONestly, yes it is country based.
Why do I know? I worked for a company who made a lot of licensed and OEM stuff and exported it. It is written what and how your wording is. So is made in Italy, does made in Italy means 100% made in Italy, no. I know brands get their shirts ready in made in Turkey and just make finishes by hand in Italy and call it handmade / made in Italy. All checked with lawyer.

USA i don’t know your laws, anyhow, maybe you are meaning the sense behind handmade that it is fully handmade. Then go to France and if they state handmade, and there is a certain % part not handmade you are getting fined (all I know is France is very strict with that, don’t call me on real % of handwork , i don’t know). Maybe I find the list where all where written what all does made in XXX and handmade means. I certainly had that list when worked with them.
New to SF and this forum in particular - finding it very interesting. I've seen the same things while working for several different brands, and I've also seen vendors do it for others brands during workshop/factory visits
 
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TC11201

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I know I've said this before, but I again don't really understand this business model.

If you treat everything from the same factory as a commodity -- that is, assume that they can be interchangeable like plain white t-shirts or red apples -- and then you find out that Japan Blue jeans can be had elsewhere for cheaper, are you disappointed? Do you then feel like the "cut out the middleman" approach was misleading?

It may be that the jeans at Okayama Denim and Archibald may not be the same. They may differ in cut, styling, materials, etc. (This is true for all fashion!). And in that case, they may have meaningful differences that make the premium worth it. But then why treat clothes like commodities in the first place?

Archibald often touts that they are not "of this world." There's sometimes a hint of disdain at fashion people -- like it's all a ruse. But why would you want to purchase fashion products from someone who's not deeply passionate about either fashion or some specific product category? Part of the point of purchasing is that you're buying someone's taste or knowledge. They can help guide you towards better cuts, materials, or vouch for when something is truly handmade because they have a deep knowledge of this product category.

I also don't get some of these AoL projects, where you have a design by committee. Why is this considered desirable? Why should a maker take everyone's opinions to create an item in this way? Think of the greatest pieces of design -- architecture, furniture, fashion, etc. Usually these are designed by a small group of people or even a visionary with great taste.
DWW - I agree with most of what you’ve written, but I do think you are overstating the case a littlle. People buy things for as many different reasons as there are people. You may value certain features in say a pair of shoes, where for others shoes may be a commodity or they simply may not be able to afford the iconic example that aficionados covet. These DTC models (and I use that with full irony in this case) exist, at least in part, to serve that group of consumers. If these companies can live up to their hype, consumers are theoretically able to acquire a comparable product for less money. I’m not sure what’s wrong with that. It’s one of the fundamental factors behind many/all successful businesses. Isn’t that the entire selling proposition behind Genesis cars (and Lexus, Acura and Infiniti before them)?

In this specific case, the company is clearly not living up to its self-generated and self-aggrandizing hype, hence the vitriol, but I don’t find fault with the fundamental model. To me, it’s about an abject failure to execute, not a business model flaw. I also doubt that many people buying from AOL (or other, similar companies) care much about the ‘cut out the middleman’ schtick. They’re buying a product with a broad set of features (be that physical features, place of manufacture, etc) for a certain price. How the supplier/seller gets to that combination is their business. You may view that as being reductionist and commodifying, but most of those buyers clearly don’t ascribe the same value to the nuanced differences that you see as making all the difference. Again, not sure what’s curious about it - different people ascribing different values to different products or features is one of the bases of a market economy.

I’m also don’t think that passion or artistry is a pre-requisite for a good product or that a pecuniary motive precludes producing a great product or art. There are plenty of great works that are the products not of a singular visionary but a committee. Equally, almost all visionary or legendary artists take on work just for the money. I’d argue that many (if not most) great artistic achievements in the modern era are the result of the artist pursuing some sort of commercial motive.
 

dieworkwear

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DWW - I agree with most of what you’ve written, but I do think you are overstating the case a littlle. People buy things for as many different reasons as there are people. You may value certain features in say a pair of shoes, where for others shoes may be a commodity or they simply may not be able to afford the iconic example that aficionados covet. These DTC models (and I use that with full irony in this case) exist, at least in part, to serve that group of consumers. If these companies can live up to their hype, consumers are theoretically able to acquire a comparable product for less money. I’m not sure what’s wrong with that. It’s one of the fundamental factors behind many/all successful businesses. Isn’t that the entire selling proposition behind Genesis cars (and Lexus, Acura and Infiniti before them)?

In this specific case, the company is clearly not living up to its self-generated and self-aggrandizing hype, hence the vitriol, but I don’t find fault with the fundamental model. To me, it’s about an abject failure to execute, not a business model flaw. I also doubt that many people buying from AOL (or other, similar companies) care much about the ‘cut out the middleman’ schtick. They’re buying a product with a broad set of features (be that physical features, place of manufacture, etc) for a certain price. How the supplier/seller gets to that combination is their business. You may view that as being reductionist and commodifying, but most of those buyers clearly don’t ascribe the same value to the nuanced differences that you see as making all the difference. Again, not sure what’s curious about it - different people ascribing different values to different products or features is one of the bases of a market economy.

I’m also don’t think that passion or artistry is a pre-requisite for a good product or that a pecuniary motive precludes producing a great product or art. There are plenty of great works that are the products not of a singular visionary but a committee. Equally, almost all visionary or legendary artists take on work just for the money. I’d argue that many (if not most) great artistic achievements in the modern era are the result of the artist pursuing some sort of commercial motive.
There are so few companies in the DTC space that are actually cutting out the middleman that it broadly seems like a schtick to me. The best examples are factories selling directly to consumers, but many of these biz models also seem flawed to me because they have no margin to grow (assuming they're selling at a 2x markup). Internet companies buying from factories and then selling to consumers just seem like brands.

There are some companies that genuinely seem like they've cut out the middleman. Gustin's jeans are one example because they actually sold to retail stores for a while, and then went directly to the consumer with their wholesale price.

I think companies should allow themselves some margin to grow, provide good customer service, etc. If AoL charged a bit more, they could have refunded everyone by now (presumably). Or they could hire someone to be their front person on the forum.

I think the DTC model just promotes a kind of cynicism in consumers that I think is unhealthy for the market. Not convinced the consumer benefits, or the industry. Why not return to the old model? You go into a store, meet a sales associate, explain your needs, and build a wardrobe. Ideally with the guidance of someone with good taste and a curated product selection. Is it really better to hunt around the internet for the lowest markup on specialized items? Buy your socks from a DTC sock company, shoes from a DTC shoe company, jeans from a DTC jean company, etc? All the while, researching how to put together a wardrobe, what is actually "good," figuring out margins, etc? And then left wondering how to put these things together in an outfit?
 

clee1982

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that old model is not coming back, ship has sailed already, not sure what's the new going to evolve to though
 

mhip

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Fok likes to pretend he offers this site DTC, but I know that somewhere in the middle lurks a webmaster...
 

dieworkwear

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that old model is not coming back, ship has sailed already, not sure what's the new going to evolve to though
Not sure that's true. Most of the market is still made of multi-brand retailers with many different product categories, sold through stores that buy their goods from reps and showrooms. The DTC space is very small.

You can still go to The Armoury and get fully kitted out in a tailored wardrobe. NMWA has nearly all the casualwear and tailored clothing a person could want. Self Edge sells jeans and the things you can wear with jeans. There's a J. Crew and Ralph Lauren in nearly every city.
 

archipel

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On Topic: I got the email about my order today, I sent pictures of my shoes.
 

TC11201

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Totally agree that there is tremendous value to a knowledgeable editor/curator and I am willing to pay for that (I suppose that pre-supposes also being fortunate enough to be able to pay for it). And if the industry that I now work in is any guide, we'll likely see a barbell supplier landscape emerge - very well edited/curated collections with a point of view and price tags to match on one end, DTC purveyors basically offering straight products on the other. It has certainly happened in many other consumer industries - most of the growth is in private label and the artisanal/luxury end, mass brands are suffering unless they can create halos - can't see why this would be any different.

But I also think that the models will coexist - like many here, I suspect, I have a closet full of bespoke clothing and high end shoes, but also have bought a sweater from AOL and found the quality excellent. But that was a basic grey v-neck. I'm quite sure I would not feel the same way about AOL trying to 'cut out the middleman' on some of the stuff that Greg now has going at NMWA, for instance. And, to your point, I definitely can't see AOL creating the distinctive aesthetic of an NWMA, Armoury, etc.
 

Vachetta

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There are so few companies in the DTC space that are actually cutting out the middleman that it broadly seems like a schtick to me. The best examples are factories selling directly to consumers, but many of these biz models also seem flawed to me because they have no margin to grow (assuming they're selling at a 2x markup). Internet companies buying from factories and then selling to consumers just seem like brands.

There are some companies that genuinely seem like they've cut out the middleman. Gustin's jeans are one example because they actually sold to retail stores for a while, and then went directly to the consumer with their wholesale price.

I think companies should allow themselves some margin to grow, provide good customer service, etc. If AoL charged a bit more, they could have refunded everyone by now (presumably). Or they could hire someone to be their front person on the forum.

I think the DTC model just promotes a kind of cynicism in consumers that I think is unhealthy for the market. Not convinced the consumer benefits, or the industry. Why not return to the old model? You go into a store, meet a sales associate, explain your needs, and build a wardrobe. Ideally with the guidance of someone with good taste and a curated product selection. Is it really better to hunt around the internet for the lowest markup on specialized items? Buy your socks from a DTC sock company, shoes from a DTC shoe company, jeans from a DTC jean company, etc? All the while, researching how to put together a wardrobe, what is actually "good," figuring out margins, etc? And then left wondering how to put these things together in an outfit?
I'm pretty impartial, but I think some DTC is great. I mix it with other established luxury and fast fashion brands, and I was under the impression a lot of people in this forum do too. It’s nice to stumble upon something quality (I do think AoL has good quality) you can add to your wardrobe without another hefty price tag.

I hope no consumers are scouring the internet researching how to wear something or trying to figure out the margin. I’m not even sure how to calculate the latter based on face value alone. But I think it’s nice to know some brands are considering it for their clientele.

That being said, I don’t think any brands should be comparing business models, or themselves, to one another because they’re all built around different targets and KPIs. I do respect what AoL is doing along with their respective price model, but different investor groups, angels, and boards are pushing different agendas and mission statements. None of it is apples to apples.
 
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clee1982

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Not sure that's true. Most of the market is still made of multi-brand retailers with many different product categories, sold through stores that buy their goods from reps and showrooms. The DTC space is very small.

You can still go to The Armoury and get fully kitted out in a tailored wardrobe. NMWA has nearly all the casualwear and tailored clothing a person could want. Self Edge sells jeans and the things you can wear with jeans. There's a J. Crew and Ralph Lauren in nearly every city.
based on your description I would think you're talking about the Armoury, NMWA, Self Edge, and Bergdorf Goodman of the old days, or RRL anywhere, RL Mansion or the big cities.

I'm not sure the "generic" J. Crew, RL or BB in many cities fits those kind description.
 

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