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Bespoke with Al's Attire in San Francisco

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by UrbanComposition, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Senior member

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    Thanks to Slewfoot's great tobacco fresco buy of 2012, I took 3 meters of the stuff to Al. Here's some quick facts:

    Measurements will be taken. Your best-fitting jacket / trousers are recommended, but not necessary. I took a jacket & pair of trousers in & left them with him.

    A paper cutout will be done. Three fittings are normal, but he says "as many as it takes." I like that.

    All work is done on premises, or at home by workers he has trained.

    Unless otherwise requested, jackets are full canvas.

    He has a variety of cloth from English & Italian mills, although he said he had nothing like the fresco & that it was a good price :slayer:

    Jackets are hand-padded, and buttonholes are sewn by hand. Not sure of the quality of the buttonholes; have yet to see.

    Price, excluding fabric, is from $750-$950.

    He says the suit should be finished in 4 weeks, depending on fittings.

    Despite my relatively short stature and build (between PSG & Foo), he said 3 meters might not be enough. I certainly hope so.

    Al has been making suits & clothes here in San Francisco for over 35 years, and appreciates making a suit when the opportunity arises. If this one goes well, I just may do another fresco or flannel. Not sure yet; depends on how cold it'll be this summer :sarcasm:

    Will update with pics & more details as they come in.
     
  2. Mr. Moo

    Mr. Moo Senior member

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    Nice. :)

    Al is an interesting guy. I have a few of his denim shirts. Buttonholes are very good.
     
  3. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Senior member

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    Good to hear, Moo. I really hate sloppy buttonholes.

    Nick from Jack/Knife had nothing but good words for him. I hear his shoes are epic. He says he's currently boycotting Horween due to the exorbitant price on cordovan. He makes his own (!) It's not shiny like Horween's, but you can tell it's cordovan. Might get a pair of boots next.
     
  4. Mr. Moo

    Mr. Moo Senior member

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    I saw some of the shoes; I saw nice shapes but couldn't tell if they were all new, some vintage or what. Are they all made by him?

    As for making his own shell, that is pretty awesome. Snap a pic next time you're there!
     
  5. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Senior member

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    Besides himself, he has a team of people making the shoes, all there in the shop. I'll take pics of the leather next time I'm there.
     
  6. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Looking forward to your updates. A local bespoke tailor would be convenient.
     
  7. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    I met Al couple of years back when me and emptym walked in their store. too bad that was my last day in sf and my funds were depleted else I would've ordered a couple of his shirts. in any case, Al is a very nice guy, very friendly and passionate about his craft. also remember he has (had) an assistant that was kinda cute, but I'm digressing. please keep us posted UC.
     
  8. BernieStevens

    BernieStevens Senior member

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    Interested. Subscribing.
     
  9. Mr. Moo

    Mr. Moo Senior member

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    Yes.
     
  10. emptym

    emptym Senior member Moderator

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    I'm glad you went to Al's, P. Looking forward to seeing the results. Been wanting to go ever since AB and I stopped by.
    His default style is pretty rustic, but he says he can be as refined as you'd like with buttonholes, etc. Did you show him your Chan ones?

    I hope too that 3 yards is enough.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  11. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    [​IMG]
     
  12. scottcw

    scottcw Senior member

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    Nice work. I will be interested to see the bespoke suit results as the price is very reasonable.
     
  13. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Senior member

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    Nice, but I'd be interested to see if he can do finer buttonholes. That is to say, those are nice, but if I saw shirt-style buttonholes on my suit, I'd be a little disappointed. Here's a pic from JeffreyD's blog:

    [​IMG]

    So far Al has been very congenial, very "can-do". Before I even said I wanted a flat shoulder with minimal padding, the first thing he said was that I'd look strange in his default "house" style, which has roped shoulders and a more horizontal British-influenced shoulder (I've got swimmer's back).

    Now, If he can do asola lucida style buttonholes, I'd be ecstatic.
     
  14. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    P, it strikes me as unreasonable to expect that level of hand-finishing at that price point.
     
  15. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    What if it is done by an Italian in China?
     
  16. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    AFAIK, Marco Polo died many years ago.
     
  17. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    :laugh:
     
  18. UrbanComposition

    UrbanComposition Senior member

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    A man can dream, can't he? :satisfied:

    You're probably right. However, I'm actually surprised at his interest in my requests - I showed him JeffreyDs blog, where he has the outline of the arm/sleeve cutout with the various colors for different shoulder types. He read the whole thing, right in front of me, and said, "this is very good. It's nice to see someone with an interest in the particulars." I detected no snark, but rather an appreciation for another tailor's work.

    I forwarded Al JeffereyD's buttonhole posts for reference, and will bring it up when I see him for the first fitting.
     
  19. ThinkDerm

    ThinkDerm Senior member

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    JeffereyD does amazing work from his photos.
     
  20. F. Corbera

    F. Corbera Senior member

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    I don't mean to be contrary. Think of it this way: a top quality bespoke suit will have anything from 40 to 80 hours of tailoring work put into it. RTW with similar levels of finishing generally retails for the same or often more than a bespoke suit. It is unreasonable to expect or even hope that your $1K will buy that. Even though you are providing the exterior fabric, there remain a range of materials costs that AA will have to squeeze into the price that they are charging you, in addition to the labor.

    At the $1K point, you should not be thinking about refinement of the finish tailoring but the basics of proportion, style, and fit. Those three things are worth much worth more than the $1K all on their own, and if you get them, you are lucky at that price. A handsewn buttonhole is of no consequence.

    I'm sure that you already know that, but it's worth giving you a beat-down nevertheless.
     
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