Fabric Quality: H. Lesser and Thomas Fisher?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by GradSchooler, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I strongly dislike "shiny/soft "modern" cloth". Fortunately my clientele does too.

    I don't dislike Lesser cloth, just don't think it is that much better than other cloths in the market today. Had a client in the 80's that only wore Lesser cloth. Made him over 40 suits from 2 Lesser books because he loved the cloth that much. He stopped looking at other cloths.

    I like a cloth with a strong body to weight ratio. There are light weight cloths that have great body, tailor well and will hold up over time. There are heavier cloths that have no guts and don't tailor well and never look good. There are good supers and bad supers. I'm more about the inherent qualities of the cloth and how well they make up under the needle than anything else.
     


  2. Mr. Pink

    Mr. Pink Senior member

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    What's your favorite 10 -11 oz suiting cloth?
     


  3. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Here is the way I see it:

    Lesser is the best at one niche of the market, specifically city/business worsteds. There are other companies that make cloth as good or almost as good but not as consistently.

    To go through the Lesser books briefly:

    Superfine Tropical 8/9: there is nothing else this good on the market. Very light weight, can take punshing heat, huge body, hangs like steel, by far the best tropical I have ever seen. The only comparable book was Minnis Rangoon, which is (was) nearly as good and had many designs and colors that Lesser never made but Minnis stopped making it several years ago and what's left is mostly dregs (and blacks). Smith Gilt Edge/Gilt Twist is another peer but I think it does not perform as well and the designs are more “modern.”

    9.5/10: Again, the best of its kind by far and it's not even close IMO. This stuff is miracle cloth. WAY more body than cloth from others 1.5x its weight. Just impervious to wear and wrinkles. They call it "lightweight" but I can't wear it in the heat. For me it is spring/fall only. Or, this might be the vaunted "three season cloth" if you exclude summer and always have an overcoat in winter.

    11/11.5: Huge book with a lot nice designs but I find the cloth too soft and spongy. I have never had a suit from it, having been warned off it by tailors and having never really liked the hand. I would always prefer 9.5/10 for that same function anyway as it feels much more substantial to me.

    13: A great book but there is a lot of good competition here. Smith, Harrison, Minnis and maybe some others all make very solid 13 ounce cloth.

    16: One of a kind, sadly. There are ultra-heavies from Dugdale and Fisher which are quite OK, but the quality difference here is clear. One could argue that Smith Whole Fleece 15 ounce at this level is better cloth and maybe it is (I chose that over Lesser 16 once) but the range is really, really small, basically some solid grays and blues that’s it.

    9.5/10 Super 120s: high quality but super expensive. I’m just not interested. I don’t need cloth to feel that smooth and silky. My skin is just not that sensitive. Never had it, never will.

    12 Super 150s: Ditto.

    Flannel: A very nice book, with the nicest flannel windowpanes that I know of but nothing else in the book is better than what you can get from Harrison or Minnis flannel. To generalize: Minnis flannel is warhorse, mountain climbing flannel, Harrison is slicker any more luxe. Both are top notch. I also like Fox but keep in mind that Fox flannel is VERY soft and yielding. It lacks the polished look of Harrison and also the stiffness of Minnis. Smith makes some very nice flannels but they are hard to find. They are scattered throught several books. Also, there is a huge book floating around called "Flannels" which is as thick as the Manhattan phone book but which has maybe five flannels in it and the rest worsteds. They are not doing their flannels any favors.

    Formal: A nice book and extremely well made stuff but the fatal flaw is that everything is either 12 or 14 ounces. Even in winter, hotel ballrooms are heated well enough, and so stuffed with people, that I would be uncomfortable in a 12 ounce DJ. I chose Smith 10 ounce with mohair and have been very happy.

    Beyond that I wear a lot of fresco, which Lesser does not make (at least not anymore). The best still around is Minnis, IMO. Woodhouse Summer Comfort is great but it’s gone. Rubinacci has a ton of the deadstock, maybe all of it.

    I find (or found, since I don’t go any more) a lot of great old worsteds at Tip Top that are of Lesser quality or close enough. All I am really looking for is a dry finish, or maybe a very slight sheen, solid body and good draping properties. It’s an inexact science. Since I don’t sew, I don’t really know how “good” each piece is in its bones. I go by look and feel. But so far I have gotten very few complaints from tailors. And they have not said that the stuff I have given them was bad only that one or two pieces were somewhat hard to sew. This has been said of lightweight stuff only. Anything heavier than a tropical has been judged fine. I have been happy with the wearing properties of everything I have gotten from Tip Top.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011


  4. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    :( Sitting in a box in my office is a new three piece suit from Davies in an old Lesser 160z that I had been hoarding for a few years. I finally got around to having it made up, but it arrived at the end of July so it is not doing me much good.
     


  5. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Another quality point of Lesser is the colors of their cloth are superb. The cloth has a greater depth of color and what I call "truer" tones of color.

    Manton, why no mention of Golden Bale? That cloth distinguished Lesser from others for most of their history.

    Looking at the 11 ounce cloth, I don't get your take on this cloth. Have you ever worn a suit made up from this cloth?

    The 13 feels too dense in the hand, the 9.5 is meh, the 11 is just right. Goldilocks would concur.
     


  6. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I have not worn any 11/11.5. I have a few 9.5/10 and I find it sterling. Based on a hand-to-hand comparision, I just vastly prefer it. It's possible that if I got some 11/11.5 made up I would love it. But I have never felt the urge to spend the dough.

    Frank Shattuck, who has more or less identical taste in cloth to mine, does not like that book at all and dislikes making it. I took from him that it would be best if I stayed away. Just not tempted since.

    As for Golden Bale, it is great stuff. But expensive. I understand why it is expensive. But my personal calculation is that I am plenty happy with the normal range so there is absolutely no need for me to pay 2.5x for GB. I just don't care about the extra softness or sheen so I won't pay for it. I had one length and I traded it to t4 for a length of tropical (which I am wearing today, as it happens) and a jacketing (Carlo Barbera for Lesser 8 ounce Lambswool). Good deal, everyone was happy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011


  7. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I have a suit from the 11/12 book. Cloth number is 30942. I love the pattern but find that the cloth is a bit spongy and doesn't stay as crisp as I would like. I would be interested if you had a look and could tell me whether or not the makeup of that cloth (a small hound's tooth) is different from the more standard business offering in the book.
     


  8. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I have a friend who has probably made up more Lesser cloth than anyone I know, he may be Jodek's best/largest volume client, and 11 is the bomb! I would use this weight before the others. Try one and see.
     


  9. Eustace Tilley

    Eustace Tilley Senior member

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    I have 2 suits on order from the 11oz. book - the gray pick-and-pick and the dark gray with very subtle blue windowpanes. No complaints from the two tailors, and the cloth looked great in the fitting.

    Admittedly, the cloth does lack the dry look of the other Lesser offerings. Smith's Blue Riband is perhaps 'more Lesser than Lesser' in the 11oz. category - very dry and non-glitzy.

    How do people feel about Minnis' Crown Classic 11oz. book? I am thinking of ordering the light gray pick-and-pick.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011


  10. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    only pedestrians say pick by pick noob
     


  11. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Doesn't appear to be any different from the other cloths in this collection. Wouldn't have used this cloth if you wanted a crisp feel to the cloth. But I wouldn't want a houndstooth like this in a hard worsted either.

    I haven't used much Lesser cloth since the 80's.
     


  12. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Thanks. I intended this to be a weekend suit, so next time I plan to wear it, I will dive in headfirst and wear it to bed the night before. "In for a penny, in for a pound."
     


  13. Mr. Pink

    Mr. Pink Senior member

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    I asked MInnis for some samples from that book. They sent them with a note that the book was being discontinued. Several of the fabrics I wanted had only a few lengths of a meter or so. The Blue Riband book had some really nice sharkskins including a light grey. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011


  14. sellahi22

    sellahi22 Senior member

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    What do you think accounts for the divergence between you and most of the other high end tailors in the world on this point, i.e. Lesser's superiority?

    Also, say a customer wanted a cloth that is:

    - dry/matte
    - crisp
    - wrinkle resistant
    - non-porous

    What would you recommend besides Lesser?
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011


  15. yachtie

    yachtie Senior member

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    Polystyrene.
     


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