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In praise of full retail shopping...

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Artisan Fan, Sep 2, 2006.

  1. Artisan Fan

    Artisan Fan Suitsupply-sider

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    No, her bespoke line is full bespoke with measurements and all.

    This is what I do. I have a "barbell" approach with value shopping for basics and MTM/bespoke for business dress. I also look at sales online for deals of things I need often I just don't see the selection in my size. Lots of loud colors or off colors.
     


  2. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Gary, I think you're painting with a very broad brush here. There's a charcoal Corneliani on STP right now I'd put up against any of the fused numbers to be found at Neiman/Saks. The difference? The Corneliani is better made and 1/3 to 1/4 the price. A man who buys one of the Cornelianis has made no sacrifice at all. He's simply a smart shopper who got a great bargain.

    I think that this only goes for an experienced shopped with a very good idea of how a piece will fit him, and how it will coordinate with his wardrobe. I think that I am pretty good at this, but even so, I'll take a suit with me if I am trying to find a shirt and tie to wear with it. The subtleties in color and texture and patterns just can't be fully captured on a computer screen, ime. You can put together a decent outfit using the internet alone (actually, a lot easier with streetwear than with suits and ties,) but putting together something really spectacular is considerably more difficult.

    I think that unless you are blessed with a sample size physique (usually younger guys who can't afford full retail - the world balances out that way,) and have a fair bit of experience in pattern matching and a good understanding of the color and texture, brick-and-mortars with knowledgeable proprietors and employees working the floor are your friend. That said, sales shopping is lots of fun.
     


  3. Soph

    Soph Senior member

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  4. AlanC

    AlanC Minister of Trad

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    Sorry if I've ruffled anyones feathers but I'm just a passionate guy with a an opinion.
    As a full price retailer certainly you would feel that way. We bottom feeders need for there to be full price retailers to keep the rest of us going.

    That said, how many stories have there been about salesmen in full price retailers who have no clue what they're talking about, harass shoppers and push a poor fit or odd item simply in order to move merchandise and get a commission? The idea that full retail B&M is simply kind hearted salesmen looking out for the good of their customers is a bunch of hogwash. Some of the retailers who hang out around the forums really are interested in helping the customers, but they aren't representative of retailers just as the other members here aren't representative of most shoppers.

    Yeah, I've made--and make--mistakes in my discount shopping. But when I realize it I can brush it off as a lesson learned rather than having that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I just dropped $3k for a white elephant that some retailer sold me on because he needed a bigger commission that day.

    Do retailers ever make mistakes in the inventory they carry?

    I've certainly not painted retailers with any broader brush than you have painted discount minded shoppers.
     


  5. paper clip

    paper clip Senior member

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    This is all very nice but really a moot point. If you can afford it, sure - who wouldn't buy under those conditions? The reality is that I could never buy the brands and quality I like and want if I cannot get them at a deep discount via sales, discounters and especially eBay. I am therefore perfectly willing to forego all the frills so that I can buy a $2,000 suit for $500 - even if it takes a while to find. My other option is to shop at full retail at JC Penney.

    Just my $0.02 on the subject...do you agree with me?


    Right on. I concur on all points.
     


  6. Ivan Kipling

    Ivan Kipling Senior member

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    Totally, totally agree with the quote, from above. I have never ever, listened to what fashion editors have to say. A stylish person knows what suits him or her, and sticks to it.

    Regarding retail shopping, I love to stand for fittings, and made to measure, is extraordinary in some cases. But lucky for me, although I'm not tall, I am proportioned. A 38 regular in Armani, fits me very well, with minor adjustments to a sleeve, and hemming for trousers. That's about it.

    Had I the resources, I would buy couture, because I love craftsmanship, and 'forever' pieces. As it is though . . . I will go wherever I can find the best possible price, including Value City, if necessary. I don't need much these days, but when I shop . . . it's always for things on sale. I should add: my size is small, and most of the time, I can count on things being discounted. More popular sizes, sometimes go much faster. [​IMG]
     


  7. Bradford

    Bradford Current Events Moderator

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    I'm a bargain shopper, but I don't mind buying a few things at full price - especially if I can support a local retailer. If I ever get to Boston, I'll go visit Drinkwaters.

    However, I just don't see the value proposition of paying $750 at Nordstroms for the same suit I can find online for $180. I suppose if I won the lottery or something, this would not be an issue. But for those of us who want to look good, without breaking the bank, bargain shopping is a necessity.

    As an example - for my recent job interview I wore a Hart Schaffner & Marx suit that retails for $695 (I paid $120 at the Dillard's outlet), a blue Nordstrom's dress shirt that I got for $10 at Last Chance, a gold tie by Robert Talbot for Nordstrom's ($2 at the Junior League Rummage Sale) and a pair of black Allen Edmonds Park Avenues for which I paid $39.95 ($305 new).

    So basically, I was able to wear an outfit that would have cost anywhere from $1,100-1,200 full retail for under $200.

    Saving nearly $1,000 on this outfit makes me feel much better than any salesperson ever could.
     


  8. Drinkwaters

    Drinkwaters OG Affiliate Vendor

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    As a full price retailer certainly you would feel that way. We bottom feeders need for there to be full price retailers to keep the rest of us going.

    That said, how many stories have there been about salesmen in full price retailers who have no clue what their talking about, harrass shoppers and push a poor fit or odd item simply in order to move merchandise and get a commission? The idea that full retail B&M is simply kind hearted salesmen looking out for the good of their customers is a bunch of hogwash. Some of the retailers who hang out around the forums really are interested in helping the customers, but they aren't representative of retailers just as the other members here aren't representative of most shoppers.

    Yeah, I've made--and make--mistakes in my discount shopping. But when I realize it I can brush it off as a lesson learned rather than having that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I just dropped $3k for a white elephant that some retailer sold me on because he needed a bigger commission that day.

    Do retailers ever make mistakes in the inventory they carry?

    I've certainly not painted retailers with any broader brush than you have painted discount minded shoppers.


    Alan C,

    I'm at 60% off at the moment and treat every person that walks through the door as if it was their first visit. There is no change in the level of service nor regard for their purchases. And to answer your question, yes we make plenty of mistakes. Sometimes it translates as too agressive, wrong colors, ahead of it's time or just what we call a dog. There are often times when customers never see a product we have selected because we have sent it back because it did not meet our standard.
    The picture I tried to paint was. What if there were no retailers to project a point of view? Lets say that the window displays of all the great shops in the world suddenly dissappeared and the stores inside were just racks of clothing with no definition or guidance from mannequins (our silent salesman) Would we get it?
    Yea, There are terrible, greedy salesman in every industry but we have to weed them out till we find the one for us.

    Gary
     


  9. AlanC

    AlanC Minister of Trad

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    Gary, I completely understand where you're coming from, and I'm one of those guys that (naively) think it would be a blast to have my own high end men's store. And, honestly, if I had the money to do it, I would shop retail, at least a lot more than I do now. I love to scan websites with the season's offerings to get ideas, and try to incorporate those into what I have or see pieces to look for.

    However, I think the (mis)characterization of discount shoppers as simply a bunch of cheapskates who are dumpster diving and making all these wardrobe "compromises" is going way too far. For nearly everyone--except the super rich--life is filled with all sorts of compromises. For me, everything would be MTM Oxxford or bespoke SR, shoes by Cleverley, et al. There aren't very many people who really are capable of that.

    What I have armed myself with is knowledge to find quality clothing at a price I can afford (including, btw, Oxxford, etc.), and understanding the compromises I'm willing to make. Sometimes those compromises force me into creative moments--how can I tastefully incorporate this item in a way that reflects my style? Sometimes those don't work, but a lot of time they do. If they don't, I can toss them without much worry, and move on.

    I'm not at odds with retailers at all. I am at odds with a condescending attitude towards those who are attempting to dress the best they can--which is often quite well--in the financial position in which they find themselves.
     


  10. A Harris

    A Harris Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    AlanC and Gary both make some interesting points. If it were not for retailers and the fact that they need to stock fresh merchandise each season, there would be no such thing as discount shopping. We all need to remember that. Also, those few retailers that really know what they are doing and offer truly amazing service to their customers are to be appreciated. I've always felt that, given a certain level of income, most men would be best served by developing a relationship with a salesman at a top store and aquiring most of his clothing that way. As Gary says, time is money.
     


  11. chrisc

    chrisc Well-Known Member

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    When you're small these don't hold true. Good luck finding a selection of pants at W30 and smaller. Some stores have stopped stocking smalls and shoes smaller than size 8. Some manufacturers have even stop making size small. Things are better in large cities, but not invariably I'll find tons of things that I like in that aren't in my size. One quickly starts cringing at the familiar refrain of 'Oh. We can order it for you."

    For me, online shopping is not just about price, it's about choice.


    I completely agree. I'm a W30 and whenever I find a good pair of pants in my size I scream with joy (okay, maybe not scream.) I can't even buy Medium anymore because manufacturers think everybody has a potbelly and make shirts blow outward at the bottom. It looks like I'm wearing a shirt-parachute.

    What I'm finding out is that buying from the internet makes things cheaper and more accessible. Let's face it, our taste in clothing is very expensive and a lot of the times we simply must scavenge. The clothes that we like weren't meant for a lot of us, they were meant for people with loads of money and who can afford to buy everything from retail. I can't do that or I'll be in debt in no time. I have to buy Borrelli online. I have to buy Charvet online. I have no choice or I'll go broke.
     


  12. AlanC

    AlanC Minister of Trad

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    I've always felt that, given a certain level of income, most men would be best served by developing a relationship with a salesman at a top store and aquiring most of his clothing that way.
    I have no argument with that.
     


  13. Soph

    Soph Senior member

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    I've always felt that, given a certain level of income, most men would be best served by developing a relationship with a salesman at a top store and aquiring most of his clothing that way. As Gary says, time is money.

    -- I'd say he'd be best served by a bespoke tailor for most of his items rather than a salesman.
     


  14. lakewolf

    lakewolf Senior member

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    I'm a bargain shopper, but I don't mind buying a few things at full price - especially if I can support a local retailer. If I ever get to Boston, I'll go visit Drinkwaters.

    However, I just don't see the value proposition of paying $750 at Nordstroms for the same suit I can find online for $180. I suppose if I won the lottery or something, this would not be an issue. But for those of us who want to look good, without breaking the bank, bargain shopping is a necessity.

    As an example - for my recent job interview I wore a Hart Schaffner & Marx suit that retails for $695 (I paid $120 at the Dillard's outlet), a blue Nordstrom's dress shirt that I got for $10 at Last Chance, a gold tie by Robert Talbot for Nordstrom's ($2 at the Junior League Rummage Sale) and a pair of black Allen Edmonds Park Avenues for which I paid $39.95 ($305 new).

    So basically, I was able to wear an outfit that would have cost anywhere from $1,100-1,200 full retail for under $200.

    Saving nearly $1,000 on this outfit makes me feel much better than any salesperson ever could.


    [​IMG] well done !

    Today I bought a pair of burgundy shoes down from $250 to $60 ...
     


  15. A Harris

    A Harris Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Yes and no. Definnitely yes for men with a true appreciation of clothing and style. But buying bespoke requires a certain amount of vision that a lot of guys (perhaps most) do not have. And it requires a higher level of commitment and time. Allowing a custom tailors to make most of your wardrobe decisions is riskier than entrusting the decisions to a salesman, because you don't see the custom goods until they are at least partially made. Find the right tailor though, and I agree with you.
     


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