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The Official Dieworkwear Appreciation Thread

Texasmade

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Not looking good for the Row. Huntsman and C&D may be okay with their NYC locations but the other houses that can’t travel are screwed.
 

aristoi bcn

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They should move to areas where the rents are cheaper. Or should we (UK taxpayers) subsidize them?
 

Nobilis Animus

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Education grants are taxpayer subsidization, but bailouts are government funding. Hmm...

I say that now is probably the time for the independent model of businessman-owner-operator to be set aside in favour of financing from private firms. Unless we want to see tailoring houses like these utterly crushed by big stores.

In fact, with the quality of designer goods and luxury stores increasing in recent years, this is probably inevitable already unless drastic changes are made. And a line of RTW athleisure doesn't cut it.
 

Sartorium

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I say that now is probably the time for the independent model of businessman-owner-operator to be set aside in favour of financing from private firms.
Ah yes, that will assure that this niche, labour-intensive, quality-driven, goodwill-rich company can survive in name only and nothing else.
 

Texasmade

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They should move to areas where the rents are cheaper. Or should we (UK taxpayers) subsidize them?
Tax payers already subsidize a bunch of other stuff (in the US at least but this is probably true in the UK too) but if it came down to Savile Row or not surviving at all, I’m with you on moving. It’ll just be a shame though that Savile Row may no longer exist as we know it.
 

Nobilis Animus

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Ah yes, that will assure that this niche, labour-intensive, quality-driven, goodwill-rich company can survive in name only and nothing else.
Look, the clientele is gone. The original upper crust who bought clothes exclusively from Savile Row and the like are either holding onto their clothes and not buying new ones, or diversifying into other makers and retailers. You'd be surprised at how many designer clothes are in aristocrats' wardrobes these days.

The reason for Savile Row's fame and level of quality has been entirely due to their patrons. Back in the day, everything was handmade. Everything. The quality and design would vary, and it was the picky patrons who innovated and started trends that insisted on the standards for which the Savile Row tailors are known. They wouldn't long be making clothes if they didn't pay attention to their orders.

But tailors are everywhere. In the past, luxury boutiques would have in-house tailors to work on all their custom orders, while making RTW clothes for everyone else. If you take a look at some of the old in-house work at names like Neiman Marcus and others, it rivals anything on the Row today - especially in finishing. Designers of Haute Couture had a time when their names and brands were being off-shored and diluted, but that time is past. Big designer names which make quality clothes are sucking up all the business, and their houses normally include custom services -i.e. bespoke tailoring - in addition to their already First World-sourced materials and workmanship, which is outstanding.

The allure of Savile Row is and has been their legendary status as the place to be for tailoring if you were "somebody." Recently there has been some kind of manufactured mystique around the ability of tailors (not just on Savile Row, but any tailor) to be able to "educate" the customer on what they want. That is entirely backwards, and laughable to anyone who is accustomed to tailoring not merely because they can afford it, but because it is traditional for them.

This model of relying upon billionaire foreigners to prop up a British industry was never going to last, and it hasn't. Right now, all their clients are ordering online, and it isn't easy to take measurements without tape. Furthermore, their image (real or imagined) of insistence upon only reproducing certain classic styles (and not even all of them), which, although top-notch and very respected, are antithetical to their roots as tailoring firms willing and able to supply custom orders of anything, fossilizes what should be a dynamic niche of men's clothing.

Naturally, big companies have also found themselves in financial trouble these days, but they are normally able to find outside financial sourcing which enables them to survive. No one would suggest that the quality of Bergdorf Goodman's offerings went down after their takeover by the Neiman Marcus Group, and the latter's subsequent buyout this year won't affect their quality at all - it may actually improve it.

There is a whole world of tailoring and couture out there that this model of tradesman-business is missing out on, and it is alarmingly leaving behind its own traditional clientele in the name of... what? An unwillingness to change? Thank the gods for Savile Row tailors who aren't so high-strung, and can accommodate a wide range of details as well as forms. Henry Poole and the like may very well do better because of this.

On top of this, the designers who offer custom work are booming, and those that used to produce handmade goods but do so no longer are finding their vintage goods creating more of a demand than their modern work and Savile Row tailors combined. You can sell a vintage Dior dress in a week!

I actually own many Savile Row suits. I do not want to see these tailors disappear. They must adapt if they wish to survive.
 
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dieworkwear

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Look, the clientele is gone. The original upper crust who bought clothes exclusively from Savile Row and the like are either holding onto their clothes and not buying new ones, or diversifying into other makers and retailers. You'd be surprised at how many designer clothes are in aristocrats' wardrobes these days.

The reason for Savile Row's fame and level of quality has been entirely due to their patrons. Back in the day, everything was handmade. Everything. The quality and design would vary, and it was the picky patrons who innovated and started trends that insisted on the standards for which the Savile Row tailors are known. They wouldn't long be making clothes if they didn't pay attention to their orders.

But tailors are everywhere. In the past, luxury boutiques would have in-house tailors to work on all their custom orders, while making RTW clothes for everyone else. If you take a look at some of the old in-house work at names like Neiman Marcus and others, it rivals anything on the Row today - especially in finishing. Designers of Haute Couture had a time when their names and brands were being off-shored and diluted, but that time is past. Big designer names which make quality clothes are sucking up all the business, and their houses normally include custom services -i.e. bespoke tailoring - in addition to their already First World-sourced materials and workmanship, which is outstanding.

The allure of Savile Row is and has been their legendary status as the place to be for tailoring if you were "somebody." Recently there has been some kind of manufactured mystique around the ability of tailors (not just on Savile Row, but any tailor) to be able to "educate" the customer on what they want. That is entirely backwards, and laughable to anyone who is accustomed to tailoring not merely because they can afford it, but because it is traditional for them.

This model of relying upon billionaire foreigners to prop up a British industry was never going to last, and it hasn't. Right now, all their clients are ordering online, and it isn't easy to take measurements without tape. Furthermore, their image (real or imagined) of insistence upon only reproducing certain classic styles (and not even all of them), which, although top-notch and very respected, are antithetical to their roots as tailoring firms willing and able to supply custom orders of anything, fossilizes what should be a dynamic niche of men's clothing.

Naturally, big companies have also found themselves in financial trouble these days, but they are normally able to find outside financial sourcing which enables them to survive. No one would suggest that the quality of Bergdorf Goodman's offerings went down after their takeover by the Neiman Marcus Group, and the latter's subsequent buyout this year won't affect their quality at all - it may actually improve it.

There is a whole world of tailoring and couture out there that this model of tradesman-business is missing out on, and it is alarmingly leaving behind its own traditional clientele in the name of... what? An unwillingness to change? Thank the gods for Savile Row tailors who aren't so high-strung, and can accommodate a wide range of details as well as forms. Henry Poole and the like may very well do better because of this.

On top of this, the designers who offer custom work are booming, and those that used to produce handmade goods but do so no longer are finding their vintage goods creating more of a demand than their modern work and Savile Row tailors combined. You can sell a vintage Dior dress in a week!

I actually own many Savile Row suits. I do not want to see these tailors disappear. They must adapt if they wish to survive.
Can you think of any British firms where big investors have gotten involved and the company's output is still good?
 

Texasmade

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Can you think of any British firms where big investors have gotten involved and the company's output is still good?
Huntsman is doing better now that Pierre owns them and his ex bf is no longer creative director there.
 

dieworkwear

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Huntsman is doing better now that Pierre owns them and his ex bf is no longer creative director there.
When I think about the other companies -- A&S, Foster, English Cut, etc -- none of them have done well with big investors. But the stories are unique and not structural, so it's hard to generalize.

I think the market is very uneven. I don't think Huntsman, for example, shares the same clientele as Steed. Not sure it's true that "the clientele is all gone." One SR fitter I know got back from a September trunk show in San Francisco and said it was the best in his career. I think these companies face different challenges. Small firms probably rely on enthusiasts, who may be less willing to spend on another suit. Big firms rely on wealthier customers, who are still willing to spend, but they have higher real estate costs (I think that's the bigger killer).

I tend to think all the good work is being done by small firms, and there simply isn't the labor pool anymore to scale. And investors want to see a return on their money, so they want to scale.
 
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Texasmade

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I would say in Huntsman’s case, they had problems before Pierre’s buyout. His ex bf didn’t improve things. Once Pierre forced his ex bf out, it looks like things are doing better.

Also, Pierre looks like an enthusiast who bought Huntsman as a hobby like Russian billionaires buying football clubs. It doesn’t seem like he’s chasing ROI as much as he could. I could be wrong though but that’s just the impression I’m getting.
 

dieworkwear

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Also, Pierre looks like an enthusiast who bought Huntsman as a hobby like Russian billionaires buying football clubs. It doesn’t seem like he’s chasing ROI as much as he could. I could be wrong though but that’s just the impression I’m getting.
That's also the backstory for Foster and English Cut, but those have also not turned out well.
 

Nobilis Animus

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I've heard some very bad stories about Huntsman, but they were all from the time his ex-boyfriend was there. Perhaps things have changed.

When I think about the other companies -- A&S, Foster, English Cut, etc -- none of them have done well with big investors. But the stories are unique and not structural, so it's hard to generalize.

I think the market is very uneven. I don't think Huntsman, for example, shares the same clientele as Steed. Not sure it's true that "the clientele is all gone." One SR fitter I know got back from a September trunk show in San Francisco and said it was the best in his career. I think these companies face different challenges. Small firms probably rely on enthusiasts, who may be less willing to spend on another suit. Big firms rely on wealthier customers, who are still willing to spend, but they have higher real estate costs (I think that's the bigger killer).

I tend to think all the good work is being done by small firms, and there simply isn't the labor pool anymore to scale. And investors want to see a return on their money, so they want to scale.
Not absolutely all of their clientele, but certainly all of the original ones that made them famous and kept them going. These people don't buy a new suit every year - they pass them down to their sons and buy new designer clothes, including those from boutiques which aren't even well-known yet.

If the Row's prices are so high, why don't these firms simply make a quiet purchase of some off-Row place and set up shop in that? It's down to the prestige of the Savile Row location, which is not only proving very expensive, but also something in which no one wants to invest.

All I'm saying is that these tailors ought to take a hard look at the realities of their market, if they prefer to be businessmen. They can allow someone else to handle the financial arrangements while they continue to create tailored suits and things for years to come - or they can have a noble, glorious death as they are swallowed up by businesses whose talent actually reaches or surpasses their own.

Savile Row has a hallowed position as the best place for men to be dressed. They have long existed in tandem with other makers who produced very fine, handmade goods. They are going to need more than an appeal to heritage to continue to attract business in the future. The issue is that they have moved from houses which catered to their clients' every wish to old-school tailors who make the same suits regardless of whatever. "House Style" is so entrenched that new customers may think they have no choice in the matter. This is a result of their current clientele, who wish to be told what they should wear because they do not possess the requisite inventiveness or status of former generations.

I appreciate and value the classics, and believe they should be preserved, but when high fashion designers are doing a better job of that, it begs the question as to why classic houses are unable to keep up properly.
 

classicalthunde

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If the Row's prices are so high, why don't these firms simply make a quiet purchase of some off-Row place and set up shop in that? It's down to the prestige of the Savile Row location, which is not only proving very expensive, but also something in which no one wants to invest.
Isn’t Anderson and Sheppard technically not on Saville Row? According to google Steven Hitchcock “the savior row tailor” is on Chiltern street.

I can’t imagine that moving off of Savile Row proper would significantly impact a place like Huntsman or Poole
 

classicalthunde

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If the Row's prices are so high, why don't these firms simply make a quiet purchase of some off-Row place and set up shop in that? It's down to the prestige of the Savile Row location, which is not only proving very expensive, but also something in which no one wants to invest.
Isn’t Anderson and Sheppard technically not on Saville Row? Steven Hitchcock “the savior row tailor” is on Chiltern.

I can’t imagine that moving off of Savile Row proper would significantly impact a place like Huntsman or Poole

I would love to know how much of the cost of a Huntsman suit went to things like overhead or marketing. I called their US shop recently to inquire about thier bespoke 100 (off shore construction) and bespoke 1849 (traditional SR) option, and the traditional option was like $10K for a suit!
 

aristoi bcn

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Tax payers already subsidize a bunch of other stuff (in the US at least but this is probably true in the UK too) but if it came down to Savile Row or not surviving at all, I’m with you on moving. It’ll just be a shame though that Savile Row may no longer exist as we know it.
The thing is that if you subsidize savile row tailors the money will end up in the hand of their landlords. Landlords that are wealthy wealthy.
 

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