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English Cut MTM Options in Washington DC: Ralph Lauren Black Label vs Hickey Freeman vs ?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Longmorn, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. Longmorn

    Longmorn Senior member

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    Afternoon all,

    I've lurked on SF for years and learned an enormous amount. Frankly, you people have been a wonderful resource for both knowledge and procrastination.

    That said, I'm now facing a challenge that I thought merited direct input from the sartorial sages that linger in these hallowed digital halls.

    The Zegna MTM suits I bought about four years ago have all reached the end of their useful life, leaving me with one RLPL grey windowpane, a tux, a blazer and two sport coats - not enough to get by on when I wear suits at least 4 days/week. My tastes have also changed over the years, so I see this is also an opportunity to migrate towards a more English cut.

    So, to replace the basics (navy, charcoal, grey sharkskin, maybe a subtle pinstripe) I'm looking for a source of fully canvassed MTM that can provide something approximating an English cut suit along the lines of Huntsman or Henry Poole* (e.g. a more square, roped shoulder, with good waist suppression, double vents, and a slight flare to the skirt). Given the number of suits I need to replace ASAP (at least 3), I'd like to stay under $2K.

    In reading extensively here and elsewhere, I came up with a short list and began visiting shops to discuss what I'm after and see about prices.

    The results of my hunt to date are that:

    - Although of reasonable quality and terrific price, Samuelsohn MTM is unlikely to be able deliver the shoulder and shape I'm after.

    - I got conflicting advice regarding Hickey Freeman MTM. Louis Everard assured me they could provide an English cut at around $1600/$1900 per suit, depending on the fabric.

    - A Saks SA suggested attending the upcoming trunk shows for Canali and HF to see if they could accommodate my wishes.

    - A very knowledgable SA at Streets of Georgetown (who only stock HF) suggested I probably wouldn't get quite what I was looking for through their program, and steered me instead to speak to Highcliffe Clothiers in Middleburg, VA (not all that accessible without a car).

    - Ralph Lauren Black Label MTM can be had for $1900-$2000/suit right now, and lapel width, shoulder padding, waist suppression and button placement can all be changed within certain parameters (some through the specs sent to Caruso; others through the in-house tailor when the garment arrives for final fitting).

    Right now I'm leaning heavily towards the RLBL MTM for three reasons:

    1 - RLBL off the rack already fit me very well
    2 - The MTM is not more expensive than the OTR right now and will allow me to push the overall style in the direction of an English cut
    3 - My one RLPL suit (bought on deep discount in London) is of outstanding quality, fits well, and shows almost no signs of wear three years on (despite having some cashmere in the blend). I realize it was probably made by Santandrea and that RLBL will have less handwork, etc., but since RLPL is now also made by Caruso, I am hopeful that the overall standards will remain high, even if it is machine-stitched.

    That said, this is a lot of money for me, so I'd appreciate your collective wisdom to help me answer three questions:

    1 - Are there other options for MTM in the DC area in my price range and style that I've overlooked? Or even a particularly good option in NYC that might be worth a ride on the Acela?

    2 - Can Hickey Freeman deliver the English cut I'm looking for through their MTM program? If so, are there any stand-out purveyors of HF MTM in the DC area that you'd recommend?

    3 - How durable are the RLBL base fabrics? My one concern with these suits is that the fabric may not be last long being worn once a week or so.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    Cheers,
    LM


    * Just to be clear, I am well aware that there is no way I will get exactly the same quality or shape as these two firms provide in an MTM garment. I mention them only to give a sense of the fit and style I'm looking for.
     
  2. othertravel

    othertravel Senior member

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    For Samuelsohn, they do offer the 'Todd' cut which is their English/Savile Row model (slightly roped shoulder, good waist suppression, etc...)

    RLBL fabrics do handle well (I think they're in the super 120 range as well), and are pretty durable.

    Don't know about Hickey.
     
  3. Longmorn

    Longmorn Senior member

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    Very interesting - sounds like another option I should check out. Is there a Samuelsohn retailer in DC that you'd recommend? I've read good things here about William Fox but haven't made it down to see them yet.

    Thanks,
    LM
     
  4. taxgenius

    taxgenius Senior member

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    "Can Hickey Freeman deliver the English cut I'm looking for through their MTM program? "

    I doubt it.
     
  5. hpreston

    hpreston Senior member

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  6. Longmorn

    Longmorn Senior member

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    Taxgenius - thanks.

    hpreston - Thanks for the suggestion. I'll actually be commissioning a full bespoke suit from William this coming weekend. Having had an initial conversation with him on Saturday, I'm very much looking forward to it. He seems like a serious artisan, and I appreciate his dry wit. Unfortunately, I can't afford to go to William for all 4-5 suits I need to purchase in the near term. Hence my search for less expensive options in the same stylistic ballpark.
     
  7. yywwyy

    yywwyy Senior member

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    I'd say RLBL.
     
  8. othertravel

    othertravel Senior member

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    http://www.samuelsohn.com/trunk_shows.php


    RLBL is great, but I wouldn't say it's the best value. For construction and fabric, there are similar options at a better price. I would only go for RLBL if you want that distinctive shoulder. I mentioned this in an earlier thread, but the reason Italian-based Mtm (Caruso for RLBL) is so expensive is not necessarily because of the quality, but because of the excise taxes and customs duties on imported products. HF and Samuelsohn on the other hand are North American based, and have less taxation to deal with. But if you were in Europe, I'd highly recommend Pal Zileri or Corneliani Mtm; it's much cheaper over there than it is here.

    Sorry if I'm highjacking the thread; just my 2 cents.
     
  9. Longmorn

    Longmorn Senior member

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    Othertravel - Not highjacking at all - I appreciate the information.

    I understand your point, and will go down to speak with reps at William Fox about Samuelsohn's Todd cut. I'll be out of town during the trunk show, but maybe I can convince them to extend the discount a little early.

    As I mentioned before, while RLBL may not deliver the absolute highest ratio of quality of construction per dollar spent, it may turn out to be the best intersection of price, style, fabric, and construction that I can find in DC. Truthfully, RL is also a relatively known quantity for me, making it a little bit easier to take the plunge.

    That said, I appreciate the perspective and look forward to hearing more from you and others who help me figure out the full range of options available and understand the pros and cons of each.

    Cheers,
    LM
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  10. emptym

    emptym Senior member Moderator

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    Edit, I was going to recommend Everard, but I see you've already spoken with him. I've never tried his services, but a couple friends have and they've been pleased.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  11. chocsosa

    chocsosa Senior member

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    I have a Canali that I did that was M2M... I rarely wear it due to the square shoulders (not my thing) but it was a decent fit with everything you are looking for.. I have strong shoulders so shoulder padding needs to be little to none... but you look at that and its around the price point you are looking for..
     
  12. earthdragon

    earthdragon Senior member

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    Buy 2 RLPL's on EBay, ( these can be had for $1K) and have Will Fields do the alterations , since you are commissioning something anyway.
    He does great work and is a pleasure to chat with.
     
  13. Longmorn

    Longmorn Senior member

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    Emptym - thanks for the recommendation. Louis is quite the character, and certainly confident of his own abilities. Good to hear that others have found his product lives up to his saleman-ship.

    Chocsosa - Interesting to hear a second rec for Canali. They certainly seem to make a nice suit, but their profile seems to be a bit boxy. Did your MTM suit provide a more fitted silhouette?

    Earthdragon - Interesting suggestion. Will's reputation on both fronts proceeds him, but I don't think I'll be able to find RLPL online in the basic colors I'm looking for (solid navy, charcoal, etc.) It's also an interesting question: is high-quality OTR altered by an outstanding tailor the equal or better of a slightly lower-quality MTM?

    Thanks to all of your for the suggestions.
     
  14. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Lm - I'd be somewhat wary of adjusting button stance and lapel width on a relatively extreme cut like what I have seen of the RLBL suits. They're kind of designed to look a certain way and messing with it might result in an ill-conceived suit. Not saying it can't be good, just something to think about and realize that you can't just increase the lapel width and leave everything else the same and have it looking more like a "normal" suit. I'd definitely keep looking on eBay and see if you can find something there. You might be surprised.

    I'd also try to get just 2 now, instead of 4, be patient, and set aside the extra money for the suits that you really want in the future. You can get by for a few months on only 2-3 suits, especially if you're not anticipating wearing them forever anyway.

    And on that note, congratulations on your commission with Mr. Field. I hope you'll come back and tell us how things progress. He is a pleasure to work with.
     
  15. hpreston

    hpreston Senior member

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    Excellent!


    I agree with the thoughts on RLBL, if you like the shoulder then this is a good way to go, but as stated above, there are similar options at a better price. I second (or third, or fourth) Samuelsohn.


    This. Or any other lable for that matter (RLBL, Samuelsohn....)


    Agree, keep us posted and post pics of William's work.

    Since you are looking for that distictive English shoulder, I agree with those who receommed ruling out HF. I personally really like the qualtiy vs. price point for HF, but they dont do the harder shoulder.

    Between RLBL and Samuelsohn, I would highly recommend Samuesohn, I have a RLBL sportcoat, and three from Samuelsohn, I like the feel of the Sammy's more than the RL,
     
  16. othertravel

    othertravel Senior member

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    Harry Rosen is starting up their Samuelsohn Mtm event, and they had Holland & Sherry fabrics at 50% off. Excellent value, imo.
     
  17. Longmorn

    Longmorn Senior member

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    Excellent advice, and in line with my thinking. I had planned to have an extensive conversation with the RL in-house tailor about a holistic goal, rather than dictating specifics without the tailoring expertise to know whether they would achieve the objective.

    I'm fascinated that so many on here are suggesting OTR with Field's alterations over various MTM options. Even with full respect for Will's talents that surprises me.

    But given the unanimity here, I will definitely be checking out Samuelsohn before making a decision. Thanks to all of you, and I'll let you know how it all turns out.
     
  18. Longmorn

    Longmorn Senior member

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    While I appreciate the info, I'm not a fan of HR and living in DC it's not really an option anyhow.
     
  19. hookem12387

    hookem12387 Senior member

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    Finding a picture of a Samy Todd seems to be impossible. Does anyone have one?
     
  20. othertravel

    othertravel Senior member

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    Right here:

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