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How to define "value" in tailoring? $635 to perform alterations to one jacket - at Bill Cairo custo

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by lalaland, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. lalaland

    lalaland Well-Known Member

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    So I got a $1,500 pure silk Canali blazer in a truly beautiful cream herringbone pattern for almost 90% off at an Off Saks outlet - $169 - in a 42R, which fits my chest - but is a tent everywhere else.

    I took it to a local high end tailor who comes highly recommended on this forum - also with a reputation for being expensive - and does a lot of bespoke suits - Bill Cairo Custom Tailor of San Marino - to see if it could be made to fit, or if I should just return it.

    He said the jacket is "well balanced" - whatever that means, and set about pinning it up.

    15 minutes later we decided to:

    -Shorten the jacket 3/4 of an inch.
    -Take the jacket in a lot to fit my drop, which is requiring taking material out of both the front and the rear - slicing it open at four side seams. This also entails removing the patch pockets and placing them back on.
    -Close both rear vents because after bringing it in the vents were going to "scissor" outwards
    -Bringing the shoulders in 3/8 of an inch on each side.
    -Bringing material up in the back to eliminate some wrinkling and a duck-tail effect over my ass.

    I figure this is a total of 12 "changes" - and then I'm going to be in for $800 including purchase price, which seems like a decent value for a silk Canali in a classic style that should fit like a glove and last for many years.

    But still - $635 in alterations? The bespoke blazers at Bill Cairo start at $2,500, so i guess everything's relative. . .

    I don't feel like he tried to "sell" me on the work, but he wouldn't negotiate the price. He also turned down work on two other jackets I brought him, where he could have easily taken advantage of me instead and rung up a higher total ticket.

    Do you get what you pay for at these high end tailors, or are there a lot of lesser-known clothing artists out there who can perform major surgery just as well for 1/2 the price?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  2. add911_11

    add911_11 Senior member

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    Sad thing is you pay for the consistency and reliability of their work, the jacket sounds like to undergo a recut so it is going to be expensive.

    I would not worry too much as long as the garment fits, and as you also said the price you pay can't get you any bespoke.........
     
  3. Sanguis Mortuum

    Sanguis Mortuum Senior member

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    Sounds like a pretty extensive alteration; the shoulders in particular are probably the most expensive part. They also involve removing and reattaching the sleeves, which is one of the most difficult operations in the whole process of making a coat. It's not really surprising that it would cost so much to have it done properly.
     
  4. GBR

    GBR Senior member

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    Seems you have either been taken for an idiot or else it was so badly fitting that passing on it in the first place might have been better.

    What ever this tailor's reputation, I am not convinced that such extensive work is satisfactory.
     
  5. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    I can't get why someone would buy such an apparently badly fitting jacket in the first place.


    Performing miracles probably is expensive.
     
  6. Birks and Grey Socks

    Birks and Grey Socks Senior member

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    Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't sound like a good deal at all. Judging by the large amount of $$$ shoulder work, I'd say you'd be better sizing down to fit your shoulders, and then letting out material in the chest. There's always at least 1-2" to let out between all the seams.
     
  7. Master Shake

    Master Shake Senior member

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    +1. That's the better way
     
  8. ter1413

    ter1413 Senior member

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    :nodding:
     
  9. JPHardy

    JPHardy Senior member

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    Assuming the work is great.

    Ask yourself, if that jacket was $800 on the rack would you have bought it? I think probably not.
     
  10. ter1413

    ter1413 Senior member

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    This^^.
    And could you have bought 3 BETTER fitting jackets that needed some tailoring(assuming $800) and take to a just as good, regular priced tailor.

    Also, please poast flicks of said jacket...next time...poast a b4 and after!!
     
  11. guymac12

    guymac12 Senior member

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    You can get a brand new bespoke suit for that amount.
     
  12. ter1413

    ter1413 Senior member

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    We better see some flicks....
     
  13. Stirling

    Stirling Senior member

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    Next time make sure it fits your shoulders, that way any other alterations you require shouldn't require major work thus keeping costs lower.
     
  14. Mute

    Mute Senior member

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    Bottom line sounds like you bought a jacket that was far too big. If you buy something that is completely off on sizing, your "value" is out the door, if you want it to fit you properly. I doubt you'd get that kind of extensive work done for much cheaper. At least, not from someone I'd trust to do that much reconstructive surgery.
     
  15. ter1413

    ter1413 Senior member

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    :brick:
     
  16. hyt123

    hyt123 Senior member

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    One thing you should know about Joseph Cairo (Bill was his dad) is that he's a perfectionist. He'll also refuse work if he thinks it's not worth doing, as you already know from his turning down work on the two other jackets you brought him.

    I've had Joseph do 3 off the rack items so far: a Canali suit and two jackets, a Caruso and a Corneliani. In all three cases they fit me well already in the chest and shoulders, and most of them just needed waist suppression and/or a back clean-up between the shoulders. The Corneliani didn't have a back clean-up issue but did need a collar gap fix and a lapel roll adjustment. Still, none of these cost more than $250 total for alterations.

    Sounds to me like you just have to call it on your items, stop bargain hunting and actually buy things that fit. The fact that the re-cut is extensive enough to require re-positioning of the pockets should tell you something.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
  17. hyt123

    hyt123 Senior member

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    Not in this neighborhood, you can't. MTM at Bill Cairo is $1000+ (suits are made in New York, I'm not sure if any alterations are included), bespoke is $3000+.
     
  18. sns23

    sns23 Senior member

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    Buy better fitting clothes off the rack.
     
  19. lalaland

    lalaland Well-Known Member

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    hyt = thanks for the reassurance that joe is a perfectionist = that's good.

    I'm new at this game. when I saw the jacket on the rack I thought "my other jacket was $260 to alter at Novex, so this will probably be about the same, so that's $169 + $260 = $440 total. Not bad."

    I also didn't realize until someone mentioned it in this thread that OTR jackets could be let out. I thought all you could do with an OTR jacket was bring it in, so therefore you have to err on the large side when making the initial purchase.

    And lastly, on this jacket, bringing the shoulders in and shortening the jacket were both my call - he suggested them but he thought the jacket was acceptable without those mods. And of course they added to the expense.

    It's a learning process I guess. But I think tailoring can get addictive. . .
     
  20. hyt123

    hyt123 Senior member

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    Only in the sense that once you know what a perfect fit looks and feels like, you'll never go back to straight OTR. Also, how much drop do you have, exactly?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012

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