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Bespoke Shirt option in NYC and rest of USA Help needed

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by tutee, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. tutee

    tutee Well-Known Member

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    Gents

    Please help a long-out-of-the-loop-member get in touch with current bespoke shirtmaker options in USA.

    Last I knew there were 3 or 4 in NYC and Anton of Beverly Hills perhaps

    NYC

    Paris
    Geneva
    Kabbaz
    CEGO / Carl?

    Oh and in case you wonder what I mean by "Bespoke." Meaning an individual pattern will be drafted for the customer and all pertaining fit issues are fair game. Fit issues will be taken in account accordingly such as (lateral / Vertical) balance and symmetry issues. To put it in simple words..... the shirt will fit the customer Not the other way around.

    If a shirt-maker can do that without even drafting a pattern or with only the use of his/her mental abilities then that is fine with me. But all fit issues should be addressed! Please do mention if the shirt is made on their own premises or outsourced. This is not needed but certainly would like to know.

    Not important is Hand Tailoring / Finishing vs Machine and Canvassed vs Fused.

    Added trait but not necessary. If the price is right then is styling an issue?. For example Geneva in NYC are not particularly fond of any deviance from the norm. However, I found out that it is only at the base price. They are willing to do a LOT more if you are willing to pay the price.

    What about other cities? Chicago, LA, Atlanta etc?

    Please help!

    Thank You
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  2. Eustace Tilley

    Eustace Tilley Well-Known Member

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    tutee,

    Good to see you on SF.

    For NYC, I would add Ercole to the list - he recently hired one of Carl Goldberg's in-house shirtmakers to lead his new bespoke shirt offering. Real bespoke with a paper pattern. Interesting enough, my trial shirt was cut with just one sleeve and no collar, mimicking the process favored by the Italian makers.

    Other American shirtmakers who meet your criteria:

    Los Angeles
    Anto
    Freddy Vandecasteele

    Philadelphia
    Barton & Donaldson

    There is also a good shirtmaker in Seattle, but her name escapes me. I assume places like Hamilton and Gambert are true custom as well, but I'm not certain.

    ET
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. poorsod

    poorsod Well-Known Member

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    Really? I asked Eugene about shanked handsewn buttons but he said they don't do it. He didn't say that it would cost more, just that he wasn't willing to do that (for me). BTW they recently moved uptown to the 50's.

    Edit: deepest apologies poorsod. Didn't realized I was editing your post while writing my reply.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2012
  4. edmorel

    edmorel Well-Known Member

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    tutee, no offense and I know when someone says "no offense" they do mean to offend but I truly don't, you sound like you will be a real PITA customer to a shirtmaker. You may be better off making your own (I think I've seen you post pants that you made) because I could see Carl/Kabbaz/Geneva or some of the visiting people not really want to put up with someone who is looking for all "(lateral / Vertical) balance and symmetry issues" to be taken into account.
     
  5. tutee

    tutee Well-Known Member

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    First No offense :) taken but I really do not understand how you concluded I will be PITA? Perhaps this below is why?


    A few things..... how is expecting balance which is (an integral part of the fit process) in a bespoke garment equate to being PITA? If that is what you are suggesting then please help me understand this.

    Secondly, I never tell my tailor or shirt maker how he/she should do his/her job (telling them pattern making specifics). I feel that is overstepping my boundaries as a customer. However, if there is a technical fit related issue, I do point it out in hope of it getting addressed to some extent. True, there can be a disagreement in terms of a particular fit problem with tailor assuring me that the issue has been resolved satisfactorily and me believing otherwise but that is different altogether from the tailor not even willing to address anything outside of a standardized norm (if there is one). That in my opinion defeats the very purpose of bespoke to me.

    Thirdly, truth be told... I have met Alex Kabbaz 3-4 times in person. A few years ago, I had a very long discussion with him about me getting shirts from him as a customer. He asked me if I expected non-fused canvassing in cuffs/collars and hand tailoring on shirts (this was during the time of great Alden Vs Kabbaz debate on virtues of hand tailoring in shirt making) I answered plain upfront that none of those were important to me but only the fit. He smiled and said well then I assure you that you will not be charged for a shirt whose fit you are not satisfied with. He said, in fact he will not even let me leave his store with an unfit shirt.

    That...... was remarkable! In this day and age you never and I mean almost never hear that. True, his prices made it impossible for me to seek out his services but I have not even 0.01% doubt that he did not meant any of it. Later, during the years years I became acquainted with forum member who had dozens of shirts from Kabbaz and he assured me also that Kabbaz will stand behind his fit 100%. The only reason I am mentioning this is because you mentioned Kabbaz would have a problem with this and based on my conversations with him I believe all of what he said. Perhaps I am naive.

    Fourthly... Already a Geneva customer for about 4 years. That is how I know their styling options.

    Regards

    P.S. I did not make those pants myself. Those were made by Frank Ercole who (bless his heart) is the only other person beside Kabbaz to say somewhat similar words about his product. He only asked that I give him 3 chances. Being that it is historically legitimate request in bespoke trade, I said sure no problem and I could not have been more pleased with what he did for me. I picked him over Ambrosi and there isn't a day that go by I am thankful for that decision. Nothing but good words for him. But... that is a different topic LOL we are on shirts here.

    P.P.S. Written rather hastily. My apologies to the grammarians
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  6. tutee

    tutee Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the tip about their address. I haven't been up there in a while.

    Yes you are correct in your observation (about their reluctance to deviate from their norm) and this is what I have observed as well on multiple occasions but there are a few instances which also leads me to believe otherwise.

    For example one time we (me, Mike and Eugene) were discussing formal shirt options. Normally I am a strict voile/pique combination kind of a person but since we were talking options one of them was a pleated front shirt. Somehow Eugene understood that I wanted an all horizontal pleated front shirt. He put that option up with Mike, who looked extremely puzzled and then said that it would be a Very (his emphasis) expensive shirt. I was stunned and before correcting him I asked but can you do that? He laughed a little and then said sure we can do anything if you are willing to pay for it.

    Now it is my understanding that their business model is such that they loose money on any orders devaiting from a well established norm or single shirt orders. However, this loss can be offset but perhaps at too much of a prohibitve price for customer.
     
  7. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Well-Known Member

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    Tutee, I use Ascot Chang for my shirts. They make individual paper patterns and can address any fit issues - asymmetry, curved shoulders, prominent chest and/ or back blades, etc. Styling wise, they've been able to make anything I've asked for. I recently requested that they make a special collar just for one shirt and they were able to do so. They also offered to swap out the collar for a different style if I ended up not liking what they made.

    Just as importantly, they've put up with my hectic travel schedule and intermittent communication, and have been nothing but cheerful and accommodating all along.

    In the US, they have locations in Beverly Hills and New York City, but there are also other locations in mainland China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. I believe shirts are all made in Hong Kong, but you may want to double check.

    Addendum: One more comes to mind. I don't know if Raphael Raffaelli in NYC offers bespoke shirts, but US clients interested in Mimmo Siviglia’s work can at least go to Mr. Raffaelli for measurements.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  8. Eustace Tilley

    Eustace Tilley Well-Known Member

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    I'm still not certain what specific styling concerns you have with Geneva. While the formal shirt you cited certainly is unusual, I imagine that's a one-in-a-lifetime order.

    Fwiw, Geneva has 4-5 custom collars for me on file (cutaway, spread,. gullwing etc.) and I specify everything from the height / length of the collar to the type of interlining I prefer. The fit, needless to say, is spot-on. Unless you're asking them to make patchwork bespoke shirts from Riva swatches, I'm not certain how much more 'custom' from a styling perspective they could get?
     
  9. taxgenius

    taxgenius Well-Known Member

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    What's the starting price for a bespoke shirt from Ercole?
     
  10. Eustace Tilley

    Eustace Tilley Well-Known Member

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    His CMT is $175. Unsure on what it costs when you buy the fabric from him.
     
  11. edmorel

    edmorel Well-Known Member

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    Its always hard to tell intent/tone on the internet so I like prefacing a statement like that with no offense :) Also, I am reading your first post through the filter of what I think your intent is, which is obviously my mistake and for the I apologize. I should not have mentioned Kabbazz as I have no experience with him, I would edit his name out of my post but my stupid work computer does not let me edit.

    The other makers (Paris/Geneve/CEGO) all have happy customers and they all also have customers that were previous (disgruntled) customers of the other guys. Its hard to universalize an experience with a maker as what your concept of "fit" and what is an appropiate solution to a fit problem is different than mine. So if I tell you, "maker X is wonderful, great fit etc etc" you could have a totally different experience than me. My take is that it is best to find someone whose concept of fit matches yours and I think the only way to truly do that is by trial and error. All these guys have been in business for many years so they know what they are doing, it comes down to matching their thoughts with yours. Shirts are perhaps the most subjective of items to agree on fit. You can go through this forum and find pics from pretty much every shirt maker around the world and probably find a "issue" with every single one of them. My fit is not your fit, my ideal tailor may not be your ideal tailor.

    As an aside, I've come into contact with a lot of the local NYC guys, from MTM to the bespoke guys and what I was wrongly tainting your first post with, was the comment that I hear from them (pretty much to a man) about the occasional guy that comes from the internet with a list of bullet points and buzzwords about what they want and how things should fit. And when the product is finished, they need to check with "experts" first before they can decide if they like it or not. And then go back with fixes that they learned about from these experts and so on.

    Anyway, if you go through with this and have the time, would like to see pics and posts about your experience. We used to get a lot more of those threads here. Which reminds me, Vox did a post like this on Whittaker, which he is using for his shirts, you may want to look at him also.
     
  12. Axelman 17

    Axelman 17 Well-Known Member

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    Having had a number of garments made by Ercole, he will definitely stand behind his shirts/suits and will tweak until you are satisfied. However, I suspect that is only the case if he has a commitment from you to do a number of shirts once the fit is appropriately dialed-in. I dont think the economics on the first shirt are particularly favorable for the maker.
     
  13. Svenn

    Svenn Well-Known Member

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    I second that, or, at the very least, support looking for alternative options. I had a bespoke shirt made in London by O'Flynn for a substantial price and honestly the fit (not the finishing, which was nice) was much worse than my WW Chan bespoke shirts, which in turn were no better than a shirt I had made by a local girl who charged me $80 in labor. Unlike suitmaking, shirtmaking is not rocket science and the key is just to do enough trial and error shirts until you dial into the exact specifications you want. Once you have that 'perfect shirt', any person with basic tailoring skills can copy it. Now obviously the purists out there will disagree with me, but like you I'm not too concerned about hand-finishing or what the seams look like.
     
  14. plei89

    plei89 Well-Known Member

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    Who's your local girl?
     
  15. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Well-Known Member

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    There's some good advice in this thread that pertains to bespoke tailoring more generally, in my opinion. There really are different schools of tailoring. A couple of times now I have worn a bespoke shirt to a first meeting with a different bespoke shirtmaker. It never fails that the new shirtmaker makes some comment about some aspect of the fit that's horribly wrong. Part of this may be just salesmanship and trying to make an impression of how much finer their eye is than your other tailor. But there are also different views of how a shirt should fit. The same for jackets. In my experience, it's extremely rare for any tailor to praise the work of any other tailor.

    You're best off spending time figuring what you think feels and looks best, and then finding a tailor that shares your views. Reading and learning about the opinions and experiences of others can help in both these endeavors. But the strategy described by edmorel, of collecting "rules" that your clothes must follow, and then submitting each finished item for approval or modification, both misses the point of the sartorial journey, and is bound to lead to frustration for both you and your tailor.
     
  16. antikantian

    antikantian Well-Known Member

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    I've only used two shirtmakers, so I can only offer comments based on my limited experience. I was using Mel Gambert (I think they are based on NJ, and I also believe that their shirts are produced in-house. I can't comment on if this is truly bespoke with individual patterns, but their customizations seemed fairly extensive). The quality and fit of the Gambert shirts was pretty good, but their turn-around time was atrocious.

    I'm now using Turnbull & Asser, and I do believe that they produce individual patterns. I can't really say what they are willing to modify, as I only made a few tweaks to the sample shirt, as the fit was almost perfect. Their turnaround time has always been in the 3-week range for all of my orders, which I think is pretty good coming from the UK and then stopping through the NYC store before being forwarded to me.

    The bespoke manager at T&A did mention to me that Charvet is also another bespoke option in NYC (in addition to Ascot Chang which was previously mentioned), but I have no first-hand knowledge of them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012
  17. Axelman 17

    Axelman 17 Well-Known Member

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    +1, great post
     
  18. Eustace Tilley

    Eustace Tilley Well-Known Member

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    I wish! Charvet only offers stock specials (not even MTM) via its NY retailers (Bergdorf, Saks etc.).
     
  19. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Well-Known Member

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    tutee, I sense that you already know most of the facts presented and philosophies expressed in this thread.

    If you already have a rapport with Ercole's and you wish to try an alternative to Geneva, why not give Ercole's a shot? If it is a new line of business for them, they would seem less likely to be inflexible.
     
  20. tutee

    tutee Well-Known Member

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    Thank You for these suggestions. I did remember the name of Ascot Chang but wasn't sure of their offerings.


    I was not asking for these this bespoke shirt makers for my immediate needs but rather I wanted to know what else was out there currently in market in terms of options. A friend was also interested in getting some shirts and asked me about his choices and I wasn’t exactly sure so I asked here.

    Actually I have no styling concerns with Geneva. Being that I am pretty extreme on conservative dressing at least when it comes to tailored clothing, there is hardly a stylistic request I will ask from Geneva that they will not be able to do.

    My (slight) concern with Geneva although has to do with the inconsistency in making and trimming portion of the shirts. It seems like every three or four shirts there is a batch that is just rushed through or for whatever reason does not come out quite right. For example, loose threads here and there on buttons and stitching going off the straight path or for example from misaligned on cuffs. Often when I have pointed out these making and trimming mistakes to Eugene (to his credit) he admitted them as valid requests and corrected them. But the fact remains that I have to check each and every one of shirts carefully prior to leaving their premises. Now that is something I don't like to do at least not over there. Why you may ask?

    I have often felt while visiting them that I am intruding upon some urgent business that they need to take care of first. I always make appointments and try to make my visit as short as possible but still it is hard for me to shake that feeling that my subsequent orders of 2-3 (shirts at a time) are not enough to merit their time. I find it difficult convincing myself to order 5 or more at a time, especially since there has been such inconsistencies.

    However since most of the fit issues have been resolved over the time I am likely to continue with them till I can find a shirt maker that can certainly provide with perhaps a better experience at comparative and not too much of added cost.


    Yes this is indeed true. But there should be some consistency in overall service. For example in my entire bespoke journey over the course of years there have been only two instances in which I truly had a bad experience. One was with a famed SR house and the other was with a particular tailor who was an off-shoot of the first firm. Considering the fact that there are legions of unsatisfied and unhappy customers for both of them I highly doubt I was being a “PITA” to them.


    I agree with you 100% on this and have never done this in my life. I only point out the things to a tailor with which I am familiar with (& understand) and not because someone else on a blog (or wherever) thinks such and such even though I do not see the problem myself.


    Will do. However, I tried shirts from Dege many years ago when he was there. With the prices I paid the results were just meh to say the least. I like to avoid foreign options now whenever possible. Given that Dege shirts were hardly any better (if at all) than Geneva I see little point in perusing that route.


    A very valid point and a tempting option but oh no! Why? I am too protective of my rapport with him with for trousers. It took my years and years to end up where I am with what he makes for me. It is a bespoke heaven for me. Never in my life I have been more satisfied with a bespoke product. Seriously.

    Now a new venture may or may not succeed on similar level. I surely can give it a try and if the results are not good then keep to the old stuff but the way human psychology works... it usually is very hard to isolate such things. So not sure if he will be able to see it that way.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012

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