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Unfunded Liabilities: a/k/a The Cloth Thread

bdavro23

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I love my heavy worsteds as it can get to -15 C in winter where I am, and October-March has great weather for such fabrics; a lengthy walk in the park with an overcoat is a pleasure, not a trial. I have some tweed suits (woolen, not worsted) around 500-600g which work perfectly well for all but the most formal of meetings in my situation.

A 300g suit , unless made from exceptional fibre, will need to be replaced in 3 years if heavily worn. A heavier fabric may last 15-50 years, which is not so attractive from the perspective of the merchant or the tailor.
A near enough to 11 ounce suit wears out in 3 years? Your definition of heavily worn must be different than mine and include some form of combat...
 

dieworkwear

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I don't think weight alone is a good measure of durability. Durability is determined by many things, including fiber, spinning, weave, finishing, etc.

Reminds me of the old adage here that Super wools should be avoided because they're too fragile, and then JefferyD did a dissection of this 20-year-old Super 150s suit that was perfectly intact. I believe it was either made by Despos or was owned by him.




If you're concerned about the durability of a cloth, I would just consult the tailor. They should know these things from having made suits over the years.
 

Despos

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I don't think weight alone is a good measure of durability. Durability is determined by many things, including fiber, spinning, weave, finishing, etc.

Reminds me of the old adage here that Super wools should be avoided because they're too fragile, and then JefferyD did a dissection of this 20-year-old Super 150s suit that was perfectly intact. I believe it was either made by Despos or was owned by him.




If you're concerned about the durability of a cloth, I would just consult the tailor. They should know these things from having made suits over the years.
Made by Despos for Despos.
Weight isn’t a guarantee of longevity. Tensile strength and yarn quality do contribute. Have had 15-16 ounce cloth wear out before 8 ounce in my own wardrobe.
Look how fine the fibers are that are used to make cloth. There exists more “cheap goods” in heavier weights than you think. Weight is not a criteria of quality.
 

acapaca

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Fascinating. What is it you're looking for when you look at the fibers? (And how do you go about doing it?)
 

DavidLane

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I don't think weight alone is a good measure of durability. Durability is determined by many things, including fiber, spinning, weave, finishing, etc.

Reminds me of the old adage here that Super wools should be avoided because they're too fragile, and then JefferyD did a dissection of this 20-year-old Super 150s suit that was perfectly intact. I believe it was either made by Despos or was owned by him.




If you're concerned about the durability of a cloth, I would just consult the tailor. They should know these things from having made suits over the years.
Nor is it a measure of how warm it will wear. An 8oz. flannel will wear warmer than a 16-20oz. worsted.

Why one would buy an 8oz. flannel is beyond me, but none the less, weight alone is not all that matters.

-DL
 

dieworkwear

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I don't think there's something you can look for, but rather something you know from direct experience.

In the early 1990s, Marks & Spencer's executives directed Brooks Brothers to start testing fabrics before anything landed in a store. So, Brooks Brothers' production schedule was like this: a cloth would be woven according to specifications, then some cut lenths would be used to make sample garments. Those sample garments would then be sent to labs around the world to test for colorfastness, tensile strength, and general durability. They had machines that would rub a fabric to test how many rubs a fabric could take before it wore out. These tests were done in multiple independent labs so that Brooks could see if there was a consensus. And nothing would make it into the store unless the fabric/ garment passed such quality controls.

I once interviewed a Brooks executive who was involved in setting up and running this program. Sometime in the mid-aughts, I believe del Vecchio, the current and outgoing CEO, canceled the program. And that's when you started to see that some suits and sport coats just didn't have the same durability.

He also noted that older wool fibers were more durable, which he believes is a result of climate change. A lot of wool is sourced from Australia, where there have been droughts. This exec believes this is why fibers today are often more brittle.

I also recently interviewed the Managing Director at Vanners, the silk manufacturer that supplies silks to Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Drake's, and others. She noted that, as tie sales have declined, so have silk sales. And she wishes the company switched into other markets sooner, such as furnishings. They could sell silk to upscale hotels, who would use them for upholstery, but to do so requires the same durability tests mentioned above.

If you could easily spot durability with things such as weight or fiber composition, then you wouldn't need such extensive durability tests.

Barring such tests, I think the only way you know such things is from direct experience, either your own or a tailor's. If a tailor has made many suits before, he or she may have seen things come back into the shop and know how well a fabric performed. But I don't think these single proxy measures -- going for weight, avoiding Supers, etc -- substitutes for direct experience. I also think some of the things touted on bespoke boards are more about romanticism (e.g. the idea of old world, heavyweight tailoring, etc).
 

smittycl

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Last edited:

bdavro23

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Team Cloth, I bought 3m of Derek's Summer Tweed but decided not to have it made up. I have a lot of summer sport coats. Anyway, it just went live at LuxeSwap. (Honestly not sure if it's cool to post here? Admins, please delete if I'm being crass or folks just tell me it's inappropriate and I'll edit this out).

View attachment 1505553

I hope it does well, but I think you would have done a lot better selling it yourself on here. After Spoo takes his cut and you pay all the ebay fees, you're likely to be disappointed with whats left over.

Best of luck!
 

The Chai

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Team Cloth, I bought 3m of Derek's Summer Tweed but decided not to have it made up. I have a lot of summer sport coats. Anyway, it just went live at LuxeSwap. (Honestly not sure if it's cool to post here? Admins, please delete if I'm being crass or folks just tell me it's inappropriate and I'll edit this out).

View attachment 1505553

Yeah I would be interested to take this off your hands...for the right price ;-)
 

Simon A

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A near enough to 11 ounce suit wears out in 3 years? Your definition of heavily worn must be different than mine and include some form of combat...
In my case, ordinary wear of basic English and Italian lightweight worsteds, the trousers will only last 3 years, worn 1-2 times a week in the warmer months; they are cut full. Rarely dry cleaned and properly stored. Higher end material like Lessers, more like 8-12 years, which is pretty good for lightweight material. Costly fabric but compared to the cost of tailoring, overall cost of ownership is acceptable.

Heavy worsteds from Gorina, P&B Classics and Dugdales have been both inexpensive and sturdy in my experience. I'd be interested to hear others' experiences.
 

acapaca

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I don't think there's something you can look for, but rather something you know from direct experience.

In the early 1990s, Marks & Spencer's executives directed Brooks Brothers to start testing fabrics before anything landed in a store. So, Brooks Brothers' production schedule was like this: a cloth would be woven according to specifications, then some cut lenths would be used to make sample garments. Those sample garments would then be sent to labs around the world to test for colorfastness, tensile strength, and general durability. They had machines that would rub a fabric to test how many rubs a fabric could take before it wore out. These tests were done in multiple independent labs so that Brooks could see if there was a consensus. And nothing would make it into the store unless the fabric/ garment passed such quality controls.

I once interviewed a Brooks executive who was involved in setting up and running this program. Sometime in the mid-aughts, I believe del Vecchio, the current and outgoing CEO, canceled the program. And that's when you started to see that some suits and sport coats just didn't have the same durability.

He also noted that older wool fibers were more durable, which he believes is a result of climate change. A lot of wool is sourced from Australia, where there have been droughts. This exec believes this is why fibers today are often more brittle.

I also recently interviewed the Managing Director at Vanners, the silk manufacturer that supplies silks to Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Drake's, and others. She noted that, as tie sales have declined, so have silk sales. And she wishes the company switched into other markets sooner, such as furnishings. They could sell silk to upscale hotels, who would use them for upholstery, but to do so requires the same durability tests mentioned above.

If you could easily spot durability with things such as weight or fiber composition, then you wouldn't need such extensive durability tests.

Barring such tests, I think the only way you know such things is from direct experience, either your own or a tailor's. If a tailor has made many suits before, he or she may have seen things come back into the shop and know how well a fabric performed. But I don't think these single proxy measures -- going for weight, avoiding Supers, etc -- substitutes for direct experience. I also think some of the things touted on bespoke boards are more about romanticism (e.g. the idea of old world, heavyweight tailoring, etc).
Very informative -- thanks very much. I have to admit, as I was reading it I thought (and hoped) it might be headed toward a 'Moneyball' kind of story, with the labs versus some old rag man's eye. Or I guess maybe it actually does lean that way, with the data always winning out no matter what.
 

Wren

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Of the four you posted, I like the glen check best.

I find blue is hard to photograph. Sometimes the color shows up differently depending on the lighting conditions.

I would take the swatches outside and see if any have a hint of purple. I find purple-y blues to be hard to wear and they clash with grey trousers. Colder blues are easier to wear. But it's hard to see if a blue has a hint of purple until you take it outside in the sunlight. This is what I mean by a purple-y blue:


View attachment 1504993
Interesting view. What about something like the photo below? It seems to lean slightly on the warm side, but not as stark as the example you posted.

ab2e9597e2d462aa14935e3497cdef25.jpg
 

Simon A

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He also noted that older wool fibers were more durable, which he believes is a result of climate change. A lot of wool is sourced from Australia, where there have been droughts. This exec believes this is why fibers today are often more brittle.
Any nutritional setback for a sheep can cause a weak point or break in the wool staple. A competent wool classer in the shearing shed is always grading and separating wool according to characteristics like this, and all the players in the supply chain (from top makers to spinners, weavers and finishers) are very aware of this issue. It is of great importance as spinning and weaving activities on wool with breaks must be conducted at a slower rate, and with more mending; this is costly, which is why wool with breaks is heavily discounted at the farm gate. There is enough quality greasy wool from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America in any year to satisfy the demand for quality worsted suitings, although prices are often higher in drought years in Australia (the largest exporter).
 

smittycl

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I hope it does well, but I think you would have done a lot better selling it yourself on here. After Spoo takes his cut and you pay all the ebay fees, you're likely to be disappointed with whats left over.

Best of luck!
I prefer the consignment process as I don’t really have the desire to run things myself. Not overly interested in the money and also like the circus-like atmosphere. This one should be fun to watch.
 

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