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Unfunded Liabilities: a/k/a The Cloth Thread

zr3rs

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Fox vs Harrison's:

I haven't had anything made out of these cloths yet but given that Fox is twice the price I think I will end up going with Harrison's. Hand of the cloth is very very similar. Maybe the Fox a touch softer.
I would go with the charcoal Fox because it has by far the nicest colour in my opinion.

I have a suit from a 300g Fox flannel advertised as "vintage" a few years ago. Very soft but still maintains trouser shape. Another one, also 300g and in a very nice warm grey, loses shape easily. Go figure. So it is not always black and white with manufacturers, yarn and finish can make a difference between runs even if the mill supposedly uses the same manufacturing process.
 

dieworkwear

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I think some flannels are better than Fox, depending on their application. Fox flannel tends to have a very cloudy appearance, which I think looks nice in a suit. Minnis flannel is a bit visually flatter and more uniform, which I like more in trousers.

I can see why the difference in price may matter to you if you're paying $1,000 for sport coats and $2,000 for suits. Will say that, at some point, we all have so many clothes, the total paid in terms of our wardrobe seems negligible. I don't think Fox is the only place that has good tweeds and flannels. But they do have a nice selection and I think a higher batting average when it comes to designing cloth. Many of those lesser mills just don't produce cloth that looks as compelling. They need a designer, for lack of a better word. But the people at Fox have a good eye for what might look good in a classic sense, but also what you would want to wear today.

Anyway, I have no idea about their pricing structure and don't know how many coats Steed makes. If you're working with a British tailor, many of them will include the price of cloth regardless of where you source from (excluding noble fibers, such as cashmere). In that case, I would just go through the tailor, as the upcharge between Minnis and Fox is basically zero.
 

bdavro23

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I'm more in the $1-2K range, so a $500 mark up for my preferred fabric has a significant impact on the overall cost of the garment.



I understand the symbiotic nature of merchants/mills and tailors, also fully acknowledge that I am a "tourist" and purchasing for my own needs as opposed to a re-occurring business order, and that I'm trying to maximize my own wardrobe personal budget

my issue is that preferred pricing at this point seems to be based upon title and trade as opposed to the amount/frequency ordered...If i started my own MTM account with a Chinese factory and ordered a couple of lengths of Fox every year for clients, what is the fundamental difference from Fox's perspective than if I ordered a couple of lengths every year for my own personal CMT use? If Person A wants to buy X meters of fabric per year, and Person B wants to also buy X meters of fabric per year, I just dont see the rationale behind charging Person A a price of Y for X meters, and charging Person B a price of 4Y for X meters, when the alternative is that person B purchases 0 meters. I would have thought it to be more of a capitalist sentiment than a marxist one, but I just dont see why merchants/mills should give a shit if i haven't "put in the work."

Also, I'm curious (maybe @dieworkwear can shed some light here) but how many sport coats do we think a firm like Steed makes in a year, and how many of them are with Fox fabric? are we talking 50 SCs and a wild guess that 10% Fox Bros (so 5 cut lengths)?



is this common? I would have imagined that this would be an awkward convo ("I want you to get this for me, but I dont want you to make it for me") or even against the terms of having a trade account (I can't imagine they would allow you undercut their retail prices)

EDIT: also, for the record, not trying to be combative here...
I'm genuinely not trying to be a dick, but you keep getting really reasonable answers that you just dont like.

Go start a MTM company if you want trade pricing on cloth.

Go start a jewelry store if you want wholesale pricing on watches and jewels.

Go start a hardware store if you dont want to pay Home Depot's mark-up on Behr paint.

None of these things are as easy as sending an email or just wishing that it were so. People make major commitments to do these things, and it seems that you're dismissing reality because you want things cheap. It seems pretty entitled to think you should get the same pricing that the trade gets. Maybe I'm missing something. I would think twice about being your tailor though.
 

FlyingHorker

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Look, I just want the best possible fabric charged at the lowest possible price, presented to me in the best possible curation, sent to my tailor in a cut length at wholesale cost.
That's why I leapt on top of that Marling & Evans offering.

My tailor accepts outside cloths and doesn't charge high prices for the CMT, so cloth price matters a lot to me. It's basically accessible bespoke.

The only book he carries is by some Canadian brand called "Empire". No Fox, VBC, etc.

All I know about them is they've made some clothes for O'Connell's in the past.
 

classicalthunde

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Go start a hardware store if you dont want to pay Home Depot's mark-up on Behr paint.
I think if I were to place a purchase order for the same number of paint cans that Home Depot orders does in a given year, Behr would certainly cut me a significant discount on retail price...since i would imagine their price structure is based upon volume and not my title and my status as a small hardware store owner.

Still really curious as to how many sport coats and suits a small, prominent tailoring house like Steed or Steven Hitchcock would make in a year, and what approximate % of those do we think would come from a merchant/mill like Fox? I'd even be curious to know what the structure would be like for MTM outfits - is there a minimum order per year needed to keep an account open? is it above 5/10/50 meters? (if you feel comfortable sharing from an insiders perspective...)

I understand "it is what it is" and that I'm on the outside looking in, and that overall discussion is pretty pointless and wont change anything. I'm just confused by the business model that prioritizes status over unit volume...

No trying to be a dick either, genuinely curious...so this'll be my last comment on the subject
 

classicalthunde

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I can recommend the vintage hopsack. Why not contact them, I have got cloths from them before that were not online. They are nice to deal with.
You weren't kidding! I shot an email to their general inbox and the managing director replied within a couple of minutes, haha
 

Mr. Six

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If your tailor has access to Drapers, take a look at their chalkstripes and other flannels. Despos posted some photos relatively recently. They're quite nice.
 

JFK_88

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Hello cloth enthusiasts!

Got a couple of questions for the experts here. First things first, planning future outfits helps me to cope with all this Covid mess we live in nowadays and before the pandemic began I was in the process (for a few years already) to build a professional wardrobe. As I am a sucker for nice sportcoats I was browsing around for patterns and makers from a variety of RTW and MTM sources such as No Man Walks Alone (NMWA), Supply & Advise, Baltzar and a few others. Anyhow, I stumbled upon this beautiful Fox Brothers limited edition flannel chestnut windowpane cloth that I think would just be glorious for a future sport coat worn with nice flannel trousers and dark brown suede Crockett & Jones Harvard 2 Loafers.

Moreover, NMWA's inhouse tailoring line done by Sartoria Carrara has this beautiful forest green Sport Coat I hope to acquire once I start to work again as I like the proportionality of Sartoria Carrara's cut. The cloth is a forest green (Abraham Moon Lambswool twill). Both a potential Fox Brothers Chestnut Windowpane Sport Coat and this Green one is what Ineed to complete my project and cover all my bases with every major pattern and material. So I am curious - since this is a limited edition, should I get some of that cloth and tuck it away for when I will have that Green one made? Do shops like NMWA accept the notion that say I'd have two sport coats made one with a fabric of theirs, the other with one that I'd supply myself or is that a no go? Lastly, if I were to go for that option, how much (guesstimate!) cloth does one need to plan for in a single sportcoat? Sure, cut, size, etc, all matter and I fully understand that but are there any broader guidelines, e.g. a size 40 Regular (EU) 2 meters and say a size 58 (EU) Long 4 meters? My size is actually a 58/59 (EU) Long (48/50 US Long) so I was wondering if I were to order any of that cloth in the near future how much I should go for? I'd appreciate any sincere and well meant replies as I am completely new to the whole MTM shabang, have therefore zero experience with it as I so far got most of my pieces from Ralph Lauren, Daks, Nordstrom, etc. but want to scale up in the future to something more sartorial.
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classicalthunde

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Lol, perfect day to ask this question!

My advice reach out to Greg at NMWA and ask him personally, he’s pretty responsive. If I were in your shoes I’d also ask him if he can acquire both lengths of cloth for you for a SC x NMWA made-to-measure order, esp if you know you want to go with them for your sport coats. I believe that they do accept CMT orders (where you provide the cloth).

I’d also contact him about lengths, general rule of thumb is that patterns and patch pockets require more cloth. I’m slightly smaller than you but not by much (5’8” 220lbs w/ a 47” chest) and I’ve been told I need 2.1 meters for a regular sport coat, 2.5m for one with patch pockets, and 3 for patch pockets and a large pattern
 

stuffedsuperdud

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I see this argument made a lot and its just kind of silly. It isnt the cloth side propping up anything. You are buying a product, who's cost to produce is X. A margin of Y is added and thats the price you pay. In any other product you wouldnt try and nickel and dime the producer by claiming they shouldnt include some of their costs as part of the costs that are marked up. That some tailors dont add a margin to the cloth is actually the surprising part of all of this.

As for refusing to do CMT, why? This seems to be an unnecessary sacrifice on the part of the tailor because you dont understand something. Fox will sell to the public at exhorbitant pricing because why wouldnt they? If someone wants to pay that price, great. Fox gets added profit while not undercutting their trade accounts. If not, they can go through their tailor and buy as part of a finished product. Your examples dont really apply here because its missing the point. You are a tourist. You want to occasionally buy a length of cloth from Fox. The next year its Cacciopoli. Maybe you buy a piece from Scabal every 5 years. So what? You basically want all the benefits of being in the trade, without having to do any of the work. The chef in your scenario might only buy 12 slices, but they do it every week or month or year. And even if they dont, they are still contributing to the larger eco-system. I honestly dont understand why you dont understand this concept.
Not to single you out, as others here clearly agree with you, but you made the most comprehensive quote. I'm sort of confused by the same issue that @classicalthunde is running into, and I am not sure you guys in the know are actually answering it. I became curious about this when I ran into the problem he is describing, in that my tailor has basically abandoned doing bespoke since he no longer has a staff of seamstresses, and would prefer to just do easy high-volume alterations all day to pay his bills, so he hasn't really kept up with mills/merchants except Scabal. If you bring in your own fabric though and ask nicely, he will turn it into clothes for you.

I would absolutely have no problem with him getting some wholesale pricing from a merchant and then putting a markup for me, but he doesn't know how to use a computer and only speaks French and Vietnamese (we communicate mostly by gesturing and referring back to a few benchmark items he dialed in for me), so he can only order from some guy at Scabal who also speaks French. He's not exactly going to be chatting it up with Doug Cordeaux any time soon, so...what do?

From my 10,000ft perspective, and as someone on the sales/marketing team for a smallish tech company, the Occam's Razor part of my brain can only conclude that if a small tailor can get a cut length, i.e. no economies of scale associated with wholesale purchasing, for $60/yd or whatever, then that is simply the agreed-upon value between the maker and the merchant, and that the COGS of that cut length is lower than that. The $175 or whatever crazy # they the have on their site is likewise the agreed upon price between the merchant and a separate market, us enthusiasts, even if it's way higher than the COGS. That's just the business admin 101 definition of a sale, and is understandable. I would imagine the ones who got a better price offer some sort of alternative intangible value, such as evangelizing the product and the prospect of repeat sales, which tailors certainly provide, while an iGent might not.

It seems to me that the only real point of awkwardness here is, when you offer two different people very different prices for the same thing, even if there is a legit reason, you need to do what you do with your wives and mistresses and ensure that the two never cross paths, which is not the case here, creating the absurd "uuuhhh....well he's a tailor and you are not" situation.
 

tim_horton

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A tailor is much more likely to be a repeat customer than an iGent. A tailor is also a lot less likely to have an emotional attachment to a particular mill. Of course a tailor will get a better rate.
 

JFK_88

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Lol, perfect day to ask this question!

My advice reach out to Greg at NMWA and ask him personally, he’s pretty responsive. If I were in your shoes I’d also ask him if he can acquire both lengths of cloth for you for a SC x NMWA made-to-measure order, esp if you know you want to go with them for your sport coats. I believe that they do accept CMT orders (where you provide the cloth).

I’d also contact him about lengths, general rule of thumb is that patterns and patch pockets require more cloth. I’m slightly smaller than you but not by much (5’8” 220lbs w/ a 47” chest) and I’ve been told I need 2.1 meters for a regular sport coat, 2.5m for one with patch pockets, and 3 for patch pockets and a large pattern
Thanks so much for this nice and easy to understand reply! Appreciate your thoughts and yes your are right, after reading the previous posts this was a good day to ask the question. Good to know there are others like you out there who also have a hard time to find RTW things that fit right away. I'm 250lb 6.3 ft (no idea about my chest size though I do have wide shoulders and chest) and sometimes a RTW 48 Long goes very well (Hickey Freeman is excellent in this regard) but with others (Ralph Lauren) I need to have them taken out to the maximally possible extent and even then they aren't perfect. However, 50 L is too big too sometimes and looks terribly baggy or sacky and its not my style whatsoever. So pretty much every store associate tells me to go for a MTM program, but so far I have not yet found the one I would pull the trigger on though NMWA is probaly my likely choice as I believe the pricepoint is decent compared to places like Kiton, Brioni, etc. Will contact the owner once the time comes. First have to start working again :)
 

sugarbutch

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Not to single you out, as others here clearly agree with you, but you made the most comprehensive quote. I'm sort of confused by the same issue that @classicalthunde is running into, and I am not sure you guys in the know are actually answering it. I became curious about this when I ran into the problem he is describing, in that my tailor has basically abandoned doing bespoke since he no longer has a staff of seamstresses, and would prefer to just do easy high-volume alterations all day to pay his bills, so he hasn't really kept up with mills/merchants except Scabal. If you bring in your own fabric though and ask nicely, he will turn it into clothes for you.

I would absolutely have no problem with him getting some wholesale pricing from a merchant and then putting a markup for me, but he doesn't know how to use a computer and only speaks French and Vietnamese (we communicate mostly by gesturing and referring back to a few benchmark items he dialed in for me), so he can only order from some guy at Scabal who also speaks French. He's not exactly going to be chatting it up with Doug Cordeaux any time soon, so...what do?

From my 10,000ft perspective, and as someone on the sales/marketing team for a smallish tech company, the Occam's Razor part of my brain can only conclude that if a small tailor can get a cut length, i.e. no economies of scale associated with wholesale purchasing, for $60/yd or whatever, then that is simply the agreed-upon value between the maker and the merchant, and that the COGS of that cut length is lower than that. The $175 or whatever crazy # they the have on their site is likewise the agreed upon price between the merchant and a separate market, us enthusiasts, even if it's way higher than the COGS. That's just the business admin 101 definition of a sale, and is understandable. I would imagine the ones who got a better price offer some sort of alternative intangible value, such as evangelizing the product and the prospect of repeat sales, which tailors certainly provide, while an iGent might not.

It seems to me that the only real point of awkwardness here is, when you offer two different people very different prices for the same thing, even if there is a legit reason, you need to do what you do with your wives and mistresses and ensure that the two never cross paths, which is not the case here, creating the absurd "uuuhhh....well he's a tailor and you are not" situation.
It may be as simple as not wanting to deal with enthusiasts. The tailor relationship is likely to be more transactional, involve fewer questions and complaints. Retail is a pain in the ass because customers are a pain in the ass. You're probably paying the premium because that's what they think it's worth to deal with you.
 

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