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Shirting Fabric- Is Acorn still the best bet?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by 1969, May 20, 2010.

  1. upnorth

    upnorth Distinguished Member

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    I guess you haven't visited English shirtmakers. Either way, even if a shirtmaker stocks some full-length bolts, bulk of the business is done via books. There are some exceptions (Charvet, Kabbaz) and I believe that MTM makers buy in large quantities. But still. Andrey
    Books are there because they allow a customer to easily flip through the various offerings they have in an organized and categorized fashion. It would be madness or supremely impressive customer service to have to take out every bolt of fabrics that the customer is interested to see, feel or drape. The presence of books has no correlation with the level or scale of operation of any shirtmaker nor should it indicate a lack of stock fabrics. Like I said, some may have existing relationship to order JIT from a local merchant or distributor, a mill etc which would help reduce their storage cost while not entirely compromising on delivery time. Others will store fairly decent amount of fabrics (albeit not of everything in the books) which would allow them to begin work and cater to the time constrained customer. Perhaps the fact that you are in England may indicate that proximity to mills would negate the need to stock fabrics, but this is not how things always work everywhere in the world. Even so, I know many UK shirtmakers still stock fabrics, the books are only a show-front for ease of selection.
     

  2. dibenetto

    dibenetto Senior Member

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    the problem is people want to know too much....

    shirtmaven is an hybrid and not strictly/only a shirtmaker he also deals in fabrics overall, so to see a mill (and a good one at that) bypassing the trade and ''retailing'' to the final customer is a bit hard to swallow for him....

    it used to be that people would go to a retail fabric dealer and then bring the pieces of clothes to the tailor/shirtmaker, these days people are too lazy or clueless to bother....

    for other shirtmakers besides shirtmaven: in asia tailoring volume is big, and the quality often mediocre or just basic so to stock full rolls of shirting fabrics is not such a big investment and to save a buck everyone does it...

    in HK there are tons of cut-cut dealers where you can order a little as half a yard, thomas mason has a direct representative, MONTI just started sending super 200's to a major suiting dealer for cut-cut etc.

    in italian or english goods no one would dare stock anything, it is too risky and too costly,and it's only for a small % of their customer base anyway....

    which answers why in london no one has rolls and everything is done through the sample books: they all use proper high end fabrics and therefore financially they wouldn't invest that much money into inventory, it is not their business model, they're shirt makers not fabric dealers.

    places like charvet and kabbaz charge so much and their business so well established that they can store inventory for decades without a problem, or even direct a mill on what to weave for them exclusively

    now about the width of the fabrics:

    the rule as i heard it is as follow:

    fabrics woven in the UK are usually 36'' wide (because the machinery is old and predate the modern ones which weave the same width as suiting, i believe....)

    fabrics woven in japan are usually 44/45 '' wide (because they use their own jap weaving tech and those machine manufacturer settled on that width, or maybe there is a logic behind it i dunno...)

    fabrics woven elsewhere will likely be 59/60'' wide (turkey,china,korea,india?) and often for more mass market/basics type of customers overall.

    so you can have the stupid rule that the narrower the fabric the higher potential quality...

    as for italy i believe they also work industrial and most likely 59'' wide.
     

  3. Luc-Emmanuel

    Luc-Emmanuel Distinguished Member

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    It's like every trade, let me spell it out for all of you. The shirtmaker takes a profit on the fabric. If the supplier is selling at the same rate to the client, this margin disappears.
    !luc
     

  4. Liquidus

    Liquidus Distinguished Member

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    Bringing back this thread as I've been looking into Acorn fabric. I asked them for some samples, but also wanted to ask people here: Is there any reason to order via email instead of the website? The site mentions:

    On-line orders are all in sterling however if you wish to view the US dollar or Euro price lists, which are inclusive of carriage please contact the sales team. Then orders can be placed by e-mail or by phone.

    However, if it's the same price in the end, I would rather order via website. Also, why is their shipping so expensive? For 6 meters of cloth, the charge is 26 pounds.
     

  5. fox81

    fox81 Senior Member

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    the currency thing is less relevant to your one off order, but for ongoing business, this can be important to avoid being burned by currency fluctuations.

    and 6 meters of cloth is a lot. probably 2kg + (4.5pounds for you)
     

  6. Eustace Tilley

    Eustace Tilley Distinguished Member

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    FYI - Dugdales also sells shirtings now.
     

  7. jerrybrowne

    jerrybrowne Distinguished Member

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  8. RogerC

    RogerC Distinguished Member

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    While I like many of the designs, I do feel they are on the expensive side in comparison to Acorn.
     

  9. Shirtmaven

    Shirtmaven Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    Has anyone purchased fabric from Acorn recently?
    Recently, a number of customers have brought in their own fabric.
    One piece of blue end on end was so bad, i told the customer not to waste his money making up the shirt. It was single ply.
    I don't see a single ply end on end in their line
    the same customer brought in a length of Grasmere Nice, but the finish was a little fake and slimy.

    another customer brought in a length of Imperial 170/2 not sure where that was woven because Grasmere 160/2 felt much better.

    a third customer brought in a number of shirt lengths. the finish was inconsistent from length to length and one shirt shrunk much more then the others.

    I am just curious if anyone else has noticed these inconsistencies in quality.

    As some may know, I am not an acorn customer for several reasons.
    I just hate seeing customers Paying a lot of money for Inferior fabric....like Chambray from France.
     

  10. Journeyman

    Journeyman Distinguished Member

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    Carl, I purchased a few lengths last year - one sky blue poplin (which was from the Monarch range, from memory), one pink-and-white striped oxford and one blue-and-yellow graph check oxford on a white background.

    I had them made up into shirts by a local business, and I'm very happy with all three of them, and I haven't had any problems at all.

    The poplin is lovely - despite being a lot less expensive than some of Acorn's higher-end poplins, it has a lovely soft, silky feel and yet is very quick and easy to iron. The oxford cloths are both very nice, too, and being washed, worn and ironed a few times are starting to soften up nicely and they feel very comfortable.

    For what it's worth, I haven't noticed any shrinkage.

    Here's a pic of the fabric:

    [​IMG]

    Here's a pic of the finished shirts:

    [​IMG]
     

  11. Louis XIV

    Louis XIV Distinguished Member

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    Carl, I just today received sample books from James of both the Classic and the Acorn line as well as some individual samples as I am looking for dress stripe fabrics at the moment.
    I think all of them - King, Grange, Grasmere, Windsor and Imperial - are lovely, no inconsistency visible to me.
    Of course your eyes and hands are much more experienced than mine.
    Mind to share exactly what was wrong with the fabrics your customer brought to you?
    Any chance of the customer having bought fake fabric or one that has been stored improperly?
    To me King and Grange seem like nice fabrics I'd love to have shirts made from.
     

  12. Shirtmaven

    Shirtmaven Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    I handle fabric all day long.
    I will give you my impression on only what has passed through my hands

    Burnside good fabric

    Grange what I have handled recently has a very dry finish.
    which is different from a natural finish without resins
    I am not a huge fan of the highly resined finishes found on fabrics from Soktas, but Grange does not feel good in my hand.
    One customer had shrinkage issues with one of the fabrics. I made several shirts from Grange for him(he supplied the fabric).
    It feels as if the yarn counts are not as tight as what I have seen from some of the Indian Mills.

    Grasmere is very good.

    Hampton is not good. feels cheap. Most likely made in china.

    Imperial this is the worst excuse for 170/2 I have ever felt.

    Kendal I like this. and would use this.

    King also has a dry finish. and King AQ is 2x1 not 2x2. it is OK, but nothing special. same thoughts as Grange

    Monarch is ok I can import its equivalent from India for less then half the price

    pinpoint PV that I made for someone is 2x1 not 2x2

    Windsor feels thin for 140/2. the construction is not very dense.

    Zephyr is good

    Not every fabric I have in stock is amazing, but I wont attempt to sell it as something it isn't
    I am not shy to admit which fabrics come from the better Indian mills.


    There are only a few mills left producing 100% of their fabric in Europe I guess the Czech republic is included.



    this rant is not about Acorn selling to the general public.
    just that the consumer should know what they are buying.

    none is fake. all was bought directly from acorn.
    I have 40 year old fabrics that are still in perfect shape(well the whites are not so white anymore)
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013

  13. Louis XIV

    Louis XIV Distinguished Member

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    Carl, you don't need to justify your opinion.
    I have always found you to be a stand-up guy that is not afraid of telling his, sometimes unpopular, opinion, but very justified so.
    I have never felt you were sound about your opinion to gain business from it but because you have an honest interest in educating us laymen, which I appreciate highly.

    I am disappointed I seem yet to know very little about fabrics, as I have found the swatches I received today to be nice and am afraid they are no different from what you have seen and felt.
    From the five qualities I received dress stripes of, I would have gone with King CD and Grange CC as I think they are the sweet spot between design, durability, feel and price for me.
    I simply have not felt much of a difference in the swatches of 100, 160 and 170 qualities and tend to like heavier fabrics anyways as I think I have learned they are less prone to wrinkling and more durable.
    Now that you tell me both King as well as Grange feel like chemicals were used at their finishing I am not certain if I should proceed ordering.
    Sadly I have found it suprisingly dificult to find dress stripes in shades of blue that I like and I am about as conservative as it gets in terms of dress shirts as I am only looking for white, sky blue and dress stripes in sky and navy and Acorn offers perfect examples of those in above mentioned qualities as well as Monarch for solids.

    Any mill you can suggest to me or even the possibility to purchase fabric in described design but in a quality you aprove of from you directly?
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013

  14. Shirtmaven

    Shirtmaven Distinguished Member Dubiously Honored

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    the Grange and king feel as if they have not been finished properly.

    I just received a new swatch book with fabric from Testa
    the 100/2 feel solidly constructed. smooth with out feeling slick.

    I will sell fabric, but only if someone comes to my shop.
    I do not know of a single fabric mill that sells to individuals.
    to much work to cut single lengths.

    Also be careful of fabric from Ringhart. Beautiful designs.. but.......
     

  15. Coburn

    Coburn Senior Member

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    Good to see a review from an expert.

    What fabrics do you recommend in the approximate price range of Acorn? (For broadcloth dress shirts -- white and light blue)
     

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