Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by earthdragon, Nov 18, 2008.
GUYS let's pool our money buy it out and turn it into a haven for Aussie iGents! Who's with me?
I did used to work at FJ's, for 5 years from 1998 to 2003. I started when I was 18. So it's a sad day for me to read this but not surprising.
They were a great company in their prime, we had photo's from the 50's of people literally lines up for blocks to get in the shop and be measured (when everything was made to measure).
Even in the time I was there, 90% was still made in Australia and the quality was amazing. Unfortunately though, Ted (Dimmick) both saved the company when he bought it and also ran it in to the ground by not innovating and not moving with the times. They were content with selling to their rapidly ageing population but never put in a back up plan. Now those clients have mainly died off and guys my age are not replacing them.
Some of the old italian tailors in the George St store were amazing in what they could do. That store itself was 6 levels! It has gone now by the way, I noticed it last time I was in Sydney when I went in to say G'day to Dennis the manager. I worked in the MTM section in that store for about a year.
The made to measure suits were some of the best value and quality in Australia at that time. We did house fabric suits (Ted owned a number of mills in Australia) for $795-995 and Dormeuil and Holland and Sherry for around $1400-$2000. Completely made in Australia down in the Warnambool factory.
The positive I did take from FJ's was that it gave me a passion for tailored clothing for life. It could have been Australia's Gieves and Hawkes, with such tradition. I guess we can only hope that an overseas buyer might come in, get it cheap and completely overhaul it like Van Laack has done to Herringbone. Time will tell.
She is nice. Sold me a nice Brioni dinner shirt a few months back. I only went in to buy a pair of cufflinks.
Meanwhile, Nigellicoln shirts are also in DJ's, along with Sand, a revitalised Paul Smith bit and some other stuff (including Loakes if you look hard enough). It's been improved....a bit. Patrick McMurray (who also does his own ties and cufflinks) and Sal (Zegna) are always a pleasure to deal with as well.
I think what FJ and others are evidence of is the failure of a particular type of business model that relies on rebranding generic clothes made cheaply in Asia and charging a premium to customers.
The success and revitalisation of companies like Herringbone, Patrick Johnson and MJ Bale indicate that local retailers can prosper and expand, even in this economic climate. These companies have been the beneficiaries of a more savvy, knowledgeable Australian clothes-buying public, and of offering quality products that speak to their consumers.
Conversely the Fletcher Joneses (and David Joneses for that matter) have been victims of ignoring the shifting ground of consumer tastes and preferences. No doubt we will hear about how online retailing and the lack of customs and duties and GST has sent another old Australian retailer to the wall. Don't buy the hype though.
I remember Patrick Johnson once saying he wasn't worried about online retailing hurting his business, and to the contrary, the internet was a very useful tool in spreading good word of mouth about his products and services. I can only guess how many new customers he's gained as a result of the discussions among Australian members on this forum alone.
And good on him.
What a wonderful dream. An Australian-owned shop selling well made stylish clothes at reasonable prices staffed by friendly, knowledgeable staff. Maybe a small lounge area and an espresso machine.
The thought did cross my mind...
I have heard stories from tailors about how FJ made amazing stuff in its day. The quality was top notch. At one point the FJ factory was the biggest producer of tailored garments in the world, I believe. They also sourced a lot of their cloth from Aussie mills, so you could get high end tailored garments that were through and through Australia it their pedigree.
I think that they made the mistake of trying to compete with the Chinese on their terms ie rapid, high speed manufacture. They should have maintained a more upmarket approach like that of Brioni, Zegna, or Attolini. Instead they sacked a lot of highly skilled tailors and took to automation, but they just couldn't compete with the Chinese. What fools they were! Instead, they should have kept the skills base and supplemented it with high end factory equipment to produce the sort of high end garments nobody would buy if it had a Made in China label on it. Damned! what an opportunity missed...
^^ God that is depressing.
Edit: Though, I should add, 'failure removes the underperformer and makes way for the success story.'
Adapt or die.
Sounds like "Captains of Industry".
He (Prince of Paisley) might not be up to speed on your experiences...
Anyone in Canberra know where I can buy some collar stays? Plastic preferably, or is it a trek to Sydney?
not serious :tounge:
Been lurking for a while and thought it time i finally made a contribution. I can certainly back up the comment above, having had a suit commissioned by P Johnson, based on recommendations from these pages, and i must say I am very impressed with the result - the attention to detail and the fit is something I've never experienced (not that I'm a big suit wearer, working in around process plant as I do). Personally, when I'm spending my cash I like to think I am getting value (or put another way I can see the intrinsic worth) from my purchase, and this is why I wont pay standard Australian RRP for garments I can purchase for a fraction of the price from other sources (not to mention they all probably come from the same chinese factory at a cost of $2 per pop). However I can see the craftsmanship in my P Johnson, so will happily spend my hard earned $$ to support such ventures.
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