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So I started a clothing company...

starro

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Asian Factory tailoring is not a pejorative in my book. In fact, there are more qualified tailors in China than anywhere else in the world. Interestingly, there are many Italian factories who's workforce is made up largely of Asian workers, but still using the "Made in Italy" tag. I think you will find that Asian factories generally are quite capable of making things to spec. In other words, if you want cheap, they'll do cheap. If you want hand made with all the bells and whistles, they'll do that too. No one seems to complain about their iPhone being poorly made, and anyone who has owned an Italian made car will probably have an opinion about the quality of manufacturing in Italy. I guess what I am getting at is that there is a really broad range within the term "Asian Factory Tailoring" and things aren't as black and white as they may seem.

*A pedantic side note: China is not a third world country. At the beginning of the Cold War, a French essayist wrote an article describing the planet in three worlds; the First World, which was the US and it's western allies, the Second World, which was the Soviet Bloc, China, Cuba, other communist countries, and the Third World, which was everybody else. "Third World" has taken on the connotation of any un/under-developed nation, but that is colloquial rather than the technical meaning.

With your permission I'm going to sidestep the semantics debate. I had to use a catch-all term and no umbrella is ever big enough for all. I just want to clarify that my point was not to denigrate anything, let alone an entire country's standards. I can even attack the sacred cow of MIUSA. Many Brooks Brothers MIUSA shirts and coats have sewing defects that are unworthy of the hypes of both BB and US production. So my point is that shoddiness and unreliability are the norm not the exception (in fact you'd have to pay a fair amount and do a lot of homework to be secure against them). Layer on top the fact that the seller has a contractual relationship with the factory, not ownership, and another source of unpredictability is introduced.

I'd personally be a little careful not to go over the top about the potentials of Chinese suitmaking (or European suitmaking, or American suitmaking). I'm sure they can get the outside handwork to look very pretty, but the overall make and especially internal construction are a couple of steps below the best hand-made. Dissection photos of suits from some highly-venerable labels show plenty of shoddiness: rough stitches, suboptimal types of stitching, things are glued when they really should be stitched.
 

Zamb

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Two shop owners have told me they use an American MTM factory purely for marketing purposes. The tailoring is sometimes not very good, there are often mistakes, and the factory can result in a frustrating customer experience. And despite these stores knowing of better factories in China, they feel they have to stick with the American factory because of customer prejudices.

IMO, at the end of the day, it's purely about the product. All these guidelines and shortcuts about quality (bespoke > MTM; Italian > Chinese) oversimplify what's a very complicated market. I've used SR and Neapolitan bespoke tailors that, frankly, just weren't very good (worse than some Chinese-made MTMs I've seen). I also think the person you're actually interfacing with brings a lot of the value. Ideally, that person knows a bit about tailoring, even if they're not a cutter.
One of the greatest American designers ever, the AUSTRAILIAN, Richard Tyler, had a factory over over 150 + employees. More than 80% were Chinese.

i used to work for a company who catered to the US military, we could not import anything, everything had to be US made/ based. interestingly, every one of the production employees who sew were Chinese.....When we wanted more employees they brought their friends/ family members. Most high end Italian factories now are staffed by Chinese employees
 

bdavro23

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With your permission I'm going to sidestep the semantics debate. I had to use a catch-all term and no umbrella is ever big enough for all. I just want to clarify that my point was not to denigrate anything, let alone an entire country's standards. I can even attack the sacred cow of MIUSA. Many Brooks Brothers MIUSA shirts and coats have sewing defects that are unworthy of the hypes of both BB and US production. So my point is that shoddiness and unreliability are the norm not the exception (in fact you'd have to pay a fair amount and do a lot of homework to be secure against them). Layer on top the fact that the seller has a contractual relationship with the factory, not ownership, and another source of unpredictability is introduced.

I'd personally be a little careful not to go over the top about the potentials of Chinese suitmaking (or European suitmaking, or American suitmaking). I'm sure they can get the outside handwork to look very pretty, but the overall make and especially internal construction are a couple of steps below the best hand-made. Dissection photos of suits from some highly-venerable labels show plenty of shoddiness: rough stitches, suboptimal types of stitching, things are glued when they really should be stitched.

http://tuttofattoamano.blogspot.com/search/label/Anderson and Sheppard

Everyone has bad days...
 

bdavro23

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For today's update, I thought I would tackle one of the more difficult issues I've been dealing with: Money.

There are actually several aspects associated with this topic, so I will address them separately. First, theres the bank accounts. Now, this seems easy since its 2018 and everything and you should be able to knock this out in a couple of minutes, right? Well it isn't. It isn't hard, but certainly annoying. You actually have to go into a branch to open a business account in order to comply with anti-money laundering/ fraud/ tax evasion type regulations. I actually support all of this, but add it to the list of things you sort of overlook until its time to do it, and then it takes WAY longer than expected.

Second, how are you going to receive payments to put in your shiny new accounts, and how are you going to keep track of the coming and going of money? The second part of this is easier, as QuickBooks is sort of the go to for everyone these days. They actually make it pretty easy to select the right product for your business and their tutorial is decent. I have scheduled with the accountancy firm I am going to use an training class that they offer to tailor QuickBooks to your business and get you up and running. Finding the right software to collect payments on the other hand, has been a dizzying exercise in wading through marketing speak and minutia. I wont go into the details here, but as a former consultant, this area seems designed to confuse the **** out of people and have them make a decision about what service to use based on air. I got through it, but just...

Finally, pricing. Its really hard basing a side business around a hobby, especially when the primary intent isn't to earn a living but rather is about pursuing a passion (Full disclosure, I am a capitalist and did not start a business to throw away money). Another component is that my main clientele at the moment are friends and family, so I obviously want to give them a deal and take care of them. One of the first things you notice when its your business and you want to give someone a deal is that there isn't an enormous margin to begin with. Then you have to take into account taxes, overhead and other fixed costs. But the big thing is time! With a full time job and a young family that I love spending time with, there is a limited amount of time that I can devote to clients. When you couple all of this with being a fabric nerd, this can be hard. I really want to make you a suit in that Loro Piana Winter Tasmania cloth because its gorgeous. But it isn't in your budget and I cant afford to give it to you for that price. I honestly cant tell you how much it pains me that this is the case...

As an aside, I wanted to extend a quick thank you to everyone who is participating in this thread. I've already gotten a lot of great feedback and information. Much appreciated.
 

PhilKenSebben

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Good point about the pricing, and you have to be very careful with discounting in general. I look at JCPenney or Brooks Brothers as a great example of what happens if everything is on sale every day.
JCPenney write up is here

Brooks Brothers is more my own observations about how I shop there less and less because I find the sales not as good and I refuse to pay full price for items from there.

It is a hobby now, but some day you might want to expand. If your core customers have been getting big upgrades and discounts that you could support because it wasnt your main source of income, you run the risk of losing them when you raise prices or eliminate ate those discounts and the. During your expansion you have gutted your core and have to expand twice as much. Staywthe course of pricing, always treat it like a real long term business.

Really enjoying your posts!
 

AnGeLiCbOrIs

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I've been in the biz about the six years now. Let me know if I can help with anything.
Started out selling closeouts on SF. Then started selling custom suits while based out of my house. Next was a second floor office/shop. Now I have my own street level retail store on Long Island. For better or for worse it all started with style forum.
 

AnGeLiCbOrIs

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For today's update, I thought I would tackle one of the more difficult issues I've been dealing with: Money.

There are actually several aspects associated with this topic, so I will address them separately. First, theres the bank accounts. Now, this seems easy since its 2018 and everything and you should be able to knock this out in a couple of minutes, right? Well it isn't. It isn't hard, but certainly annoying. You actually have to go into a branch to open a business account in order to comply with anti-money laundering/ fraud/ tax evasion type regulations. I actually support all of this, but add it to the list of things you sort of overlook until its time to do it, and then it takes WAY longer than expected.

Second, how are you going to receive payments to put in your shiny new accounts, and how are you going to keep track of the coming and going of money? The second part of this is easier, as QuickBooks is sort of the go to for everyone these days. They actually make it pretty easy to select the right product for your business and their tutorial is decent. I have scheduled with the accountancy firm I am going to use an training class that they offer to tailor QuickBooks to your business and get you up and running. Finding the right software to collect payments on the other hand, has been a dizzying exercise in wading through marketing speak and minutia. I wont go into the details here, but as a former consultant, this area seems designed to confuse the **** out of people and have them make a decision about what service to use based on air. I got through it, but just...

Finally, pricing. Its really hard basing a side business around a hobby, especially when the primary intent isn't to earn a living but rather is about pursuing a passion (Full disclosure, I am a capitalist and did not start a business to throw away money). Another component is that my main clientele at the moment are friends and family, so I obviously want to give them a deal and take care of them. One of the first things you notice when its your business and you want to give someone a deal is that there isn't an enormous margin to begin with. Then you have to take into account taxes, overhead and other fixed costs. But the big thing is time! With a full time job and a young family that I love spending time with, there is a limited amount of time that I can devote to clients. When you couple all of this with being a fabric nerd, this can be hard. I really want to make you a suit in that Loro Piana Winter Tasmania cloth because its gorgeous. But it isn't in your budget and I cant afford to give it to you for that price. I honestly cant tell you how much it pains me that this is the case...

As an aside, I wanted to extend a quick thank you to everyone who is participating in this thread. I've already gotten a lot of great feedback and information. Much appreciated.

One of the important things to take into account are your tailoring expenses after the suit is made. You may give yourself a modest margin but if the suit needs a few expensive tweaks at a local tailor you can be losing money very quickly. Always cover initial alterations but don't discuss any of your costs with your customers.
 

bdavro23

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Good morning SF and a quick Friday update for those still interested. Based in part on feedback from some very knowledgeable people here as well as others in the industry, I have commissioned a series of fit garments to help in the fitting process. Basically, a size run will be made according to the pattern, and when a customer tries on the closest fitting size, the changes needed to be made to the pattern for them should be easier to identify. While this is a sizable expenditure, I think it is worth the money to help deliver better results at the first time of asking. I'm told they are heading to production now, so I'll report back in a few weeks on their progress.

On a related note, I am beginning the process to have sample garments made. These will be different to the fit garments in that they will be more about showcasing our cut, the options available and some style ideas. My thinking, at least at the moment, is to make slightly aggressive versions of menswear classics, mainly though the use of fabrics. So, the navy jacket, grey trousers combo might go to a navy "**** you plaid" to keep things interesting. I wonder if this concept is making sense outside of my head... I'm open to suggestions here as I'm still in the conceptual phase. Let me know your thoughts.

Finally, the above two items represent a pretty large investment for me. Hobby or not, I'd prefer to not throw money away. I really don't want to screw this up, though I'm sure there will be things I'll do differently next time. Thanks for listening I appreciate all the comments.
 

Caustic Man

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I'm not commenting much because I don't have much to add, but I'm still interested in your updates. Keep them coming. I'm sure there are a lot of lurkers who want to see you continue to post to this thread. I'd love to see your samples styled up with shirt, tie, and PS when you get them.
 

othertravel

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I've been in the biz about the six years now. Let me know if I can help with anything.
Started out selling closeouts on SF. Then started selling custom suits while based out of my house. Next was a second floor office/shop. Now I have my own street level retail store on Long Island. For better or for worse it all started with style forum.

Buddy! Where have you been? I hope your business is thriving!
 

WillingToLearn

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I am sure this will be a worthwhile investment, but actually surprised to hear it is such a large expenditure. I am assuming you are using super low cost cloth for the try-on garments and that the factory is giving you good pricing given they can produce all at once (albeit just 1 per size).

on the samples, i think that strategy is right on, but perhaps not too FU, just a bit more than subtle FU - subtle checks.

Lastly, my experience is that professionals looking to improve their wardrobe, especially in the Northeast US (which for some reason is where i assume you are), don't understand seasonal fabrics, so they suffer through thin ugly worsted in the winter and the overheat in the same in the summer. Point being - I'd do some samples in some summer and winter (flannels and soft fresco - no one buys scratchy fresco except SFers) materials to educate people on the functional and aesthetic appeal.
 

bdavro23

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I am sure this will be a worthwhile investment, but actually surprised to hear it is such a large expenditure. I am assuming you are using super low cost cloth for the try-on garments and that the factory is giving you good pricing given they can produce all at once (albeit just 1 per size).

on the samples, i think that strategy is right on, but perhaps not too FU, just a bit more than subtle FU - subtle checks.

Lastly, my experience is that professionals looking to improve their wardrobe, especially in the Northeast US (which for some reason is where i assume you are), don't understand seasonal fabrics, so they suffer through thin ugly worsted in the winter and the overheat in the same in the summer. Point being - I'd do some samples in some summer and winter (flannels and soft fresco - no one buys scratchy fresco except SFers) materials to educate people on the functional and aesthetic appeal.

Sorry for the delayed response, I've been a bit busy on this end. We are on the same page here with regards to the samples I'll be making, and I've been cognizant of the difference between the real world and SF :)

While I would love to have a bunch of lawyers and executives running around town in Fresco suits or discussing whether they like their woolen or worsted flannels better, the reality is that its unlikely to ever happen.

One of my goals is to help educate my clients, and that includes extolling the virtues of a seasonal wardrobe. Of course, that will resonate more with some than others, but its all part of the service.
 

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