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Bespoke Suitmaking Etiquette

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Quirk, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. Quirk

    Quirk Senior member

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    I remember hearing a while back that once you get shirts made by a custom shirtmaker, they more or less expect you to remain a loyal customer. Does it work the same way with suitmakers, or can you just order whatever minimum they have and move on with no hard feelings?

    Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. A Y

    A Y Senior member

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    Tom Mahon encourages his customers to try out other suit makers, because the various house styles are so different, and you may like something different. He noted that a lot of his customers seem to use both him and Kilgour.

    --Andre
     
  3. Quirk

    Quirk Senior member

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I can't see why there would be any "expectations" or "hard feelings" either way. Remaining a loyal customer is something that should come from the fact that both sides continue to find value in the relationship. If one side doesn't, of course they should feel free to move on.
    I do think, as some others have said, it's bad form to essentially "dupe" a tailor into doing measurements that s/he believes are for work to be performed in-house when you really intend to use them for internet orders, etc. But other than that, it seems to me that a tailor or shirtmaker, like a lawyer, doctor, plumber, or mechanic, can have no reasonable "expectation" of continuing patronage except to the extent it is warranted by the customer's perception of delivered value.


    That's what I would have thought, but I'm pretty sure I remember hearing something about the economics (or politics?) of shirtmaking being such that even if you purchase the stated minimum, you're sometimes considered a blackguard if you don't continue the relationship.
     
  4. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    I don't know about suitmakers, but I use a couple different shirtmakers. I use Hemrajani for online shirts that are a little cheaper. I also use CEGO in NYC and Gambert in Millburn, NJ. Didn't realize that I was supposed to be loyal to anyone (though, I'm not sure that by using 3 different shirtmakers that I'm necessarily being disloyal to anyone - they all serve slightly different purposes).
     
  5. GBR

    GBR Senior member

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    Tailors or shirt makers can both expect and hope to their heart's content. The next order will always depend upon consistency and their ongoing willingess to meet my requirements.

    I have used 5 bespoke tailors over thirty years: Of these.

    1 died
    1 I dumped because his quality fell off after about 8 suits
    1 I did not return to because he knew better than me what I wanted.


    Of the other two one was Chan in HK and the other Gordon Yao. I have used Gordon Yao for 4 years now and will continue to do so. I have no problem with Chan - I was introduced to Yao and find his locatoion slightly more convenient on Mody Road in Kowloon as opposed to the second floor in a building half way up Nathan.
     
  6. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Senior member

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    Thanks for the feedback.



    That's what I would have thought, but I'm pretty sure I remember hearing something about the economics (or politics?) of shirtmaking being such that even if you purchase the stated minimum, you're sometimes considered a blackguard if you don't continue the relationship.

    That was just Kabbaz who suggested that. I don't think he speaks for all shirtmakers.
     
  7. Vintage Gent

    Vintage Gent Senior member

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    As one of the SF's resident Chaniacs, I bring a fair amount of loyalty to my relationship with Patrick, et al, having purchased three suits, a blazer and nine shirts over the past year-and-a-half. Certainly, it's a loyalty Chan has earned, having effectively and expertly rectified problems and making an excellent product. Still, it's a loyalty also informed by economics; it would be hard to find tailoring of similar quality and convenience at Chan's price point.

    But that loyalty isn't absolute. If a sudden drop off in quality--or a radical increase in prices--were to take place, I'd have to consider investing my meager clothing dollars elsewhere.
     
  8. Jovan

    Jovan Senior member

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    Huh?
     
  9. Aaron

    Aaron Senior member

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    Huh?
    I think he means the tailor was overbearing and did not listen to what he, the customer, wanted.

    A.
     
  10. GBR

    GBR Senior member

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    I think he means the tailor was overbearing and did not listen to what he, the customer, wanted.

    A.



    Thank you!
     
  11. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    That's what I would have thought, but I'm pretty sure I remember hearing something about the economics (or politics?) of shirtmaking being such that even if you purchase the stated minimum, you're sometimes considered a blackguard if you don't continue the relationship.
    That was just Kabbaz who suggested that. I don't think he speaks for all shirtmakers.

    Yes, that was just me. I was certainly not speaking for all shirtmakers, only those who keep creating new fitting samples - that the client is not required to accept - from actual Swiss and Italian high-count fabrics until the fit is perfect. Only all of those shirtmakers. And I believe they would all agree with me. All of them.
     
  12. Ed13

    Ed13 Senior member

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    Why not use the same tailor again if you are happy with the work? You know what to expect for your money which is often better than trying to save a couple of dollars and receiving something sub par.

    I also have issues with people using a better tailor to have a garmet made and then trying to have a cheap tailor copy the item. If you want to use the cheaper tailor then let him take his shot at making the item from scratch. If we want to be able to find high quality items we need to be willing to pay up for them at times.
     
  13. grimslade

    grimslade Senior member

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    Would Mr. Kabbaz go so far as to say that a new client who comes to him in good faith and places an initial order for the minimum, but later decides for one reason or another that he's not going to make a habit of it, is a "blackguard"?

    Presumably, initial-order requirements and the like are intended to somewhat mitigate the financial risks he alludes to above. I am not defending the earlier poster (in a different thread) who suggested that a Kabbaz shirt, say, might be made with the sole and explicit intent of sending off to Asia to have knock-off produced using the first as a model.

    But surely Mr. Kabbaz would understand that there may be a myriad of (legitimate) reasons why someone might be a one-time customer, as frustrating as that may be to him. Or not?
     
  14. zjpj83

    zjpj83 Senior member

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    Yes, that was just me. I was certainly not speaking for all shirtmakers, only those who keep creating new fitting samples - that the client is not required to accept - from actual Swiss and Italian high-count fabrics until the fit is perfect. Only all of those shirtmakers. And I believe they would all agree with me. All of them.
    i.e. they take the sample shirt that fits them well and then don't actually place an order for which they have to pay? Of course! I think anybody in their right mind would agree with you on that one. That's fraud.

    As for actually placing an order and paying for shirts--or any bespoke commission for that matter--that does not lock you into anything. When a customer buys 6 shirts, he is buying 6 shirts only. And he is free to buy his next 6 from someone else.
     
  15. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Would Mr. Kabbaz go so far as to say that a new client who comes to him in good faith and places an initial order for the minimum, but later decides for one reason or another that he's not going to make a habit of it, is a "blackguard"?

    Presumably, initial-order requirements and the like are intended to somewhat mitigate the financial risks he alludes to above. I am not defending the earlier poster (in a different thread) who suggested that a Kabbaz shirt, say, might be made with the sole and explicit intent of sending off to Asia to have knock-off produced using the first as a model.

    But surely Mr. Kabbaz would understand that there may be a myriad of (legitimate) reasons why someone might be a one-time customer, as frustrating as that may be to him. Or not?

    That would depend upon the reason. Additionally, "blackguard" is not my word. If for some reason I cannot satisfy the client's needs, he would be a fool not to take his business elsewhere.
    There is also the other side of the coin. At times a client cannot satisfy my needs, those being primarily offering a bit of respect and paying his bills promptly. In that case, I would be a fool to allow him to continue.

    In sum, of course there are reasons to break the relationship. I recently did just that after only one shirt had been made. None of that does any more than mitigate the fact that better makers and knowledgeable clients seek to develop life-long, or at least long-term, relationships.
     
  16. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    Well, isn't happiness with the initial tailor a pretty critical assumption here? Other than that, I'm in general agreement with your comments.

    I could conceive of many situations where one would be happy with the first tailor's work, but would still want to go to a second tailor. For one, different tailors have different styles and might specialize in different cuts or silhouettes. Different tailors might do certain details better, which would make you want to go to different people for different things. Heck, some people might just like sleeping around. It might be convenient for you to go to one tailor at some times and go to somebody else at other times.

    I'm not saying that you should defraud the tailor or shirtmaker - of course not. But, it's kind of silly to say that you should only use one tailor or shirtmaker if you are happy with their work and anything less is disloyal.

    EDIT: I also believe that it's possible to develop long-term relationships with more than one tailor or shirtmaker at a time.
     
  17. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    At least in Utah . . .

    Exactly
     
  18. luk-cha

    luk-cha Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    i think that it is all about the first impression you get from the tailor on that first meeting that is important- first you look around to find who's style suits your body type and and taste, then you work and developing that style together as each tailor/ shirt maker will have certain things they can and can't do, but everything should be based on you intial requests and conunication should be open, and yes the relationship should develop untill that trust has been broken and why not use 2-3 different tailors "different course, different horse" and all that!
     
  19. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Senior member

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    As for the initial question, tailors, as compared to shirtmakers, do not have a minimum.

    Generally, tailors are no different than lawyers, doctors, grocers, the local bookie, General Motors, or Microsoft. They all want loyal customers who will come back and make referrals.

    Some tailors take it as a personal affront when you stray from them. Others know that some customers are fickle and like to experiment.

    All tailors (and businesses) need a customer base to keep on going. Every business has its occasional or one-shot customer, but the customer base keeps the business alive and growing.

    I would say that it is the unwritten "mission statement" of every tailor (and every other business) that he must delight the customer. This will make the customer return along with his friends.
     

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