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Why Bespoke Shirts?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Alexander Kabbaz, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I have not forgotten. I have no wish to be mistaken for a French revolutionary, however "moderate" he may appear when viewed in the harsh light cast by Robespierre and HÃ[​IMG]bert. I prefer my own country's revolution.
     
  2. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Talk about dense, no? Qualification for your bespoke maker: Get so involved in your clothing that the only world history he remembers is that which occurred between Savile Row and Seventh Ave. How embarrassing. [Kabbaz slinks away into corner, hides head under Italian Collar.]
     
  3. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Don't you mean a Danton collar?
     
  4. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I remember reading somewhere that bespoke artisans ought to concentrate on their craft, and not waste their time on reading or family or hobbies, so as to better serve their customers. But I could just be imagining it.
     
  5. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Oops. No. I meant Manton collar.

    Edit:
    I think he's been hiding over in the Lounge while I bury my head in the Collar.
     
  6. uppercase

    uppercase Senior member

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    Pictures, Alex. Think pictures.
    When you finish up the exhibition and all....
    They add alot to the descriptions.
    All kinds of pictures of all kinds of shirts, collars, other treatments..... TIA
     
  7. MCA

    MCA Well-Known Member

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    (That, and the fact that you probably don't make shirts out of 100% polyester)
    No, we try to stay only with the higher quality 60%Poly/40%Cotton.
    Hi Alex, Did you really mean poly****???? [​IMG] [​IMG] was this a joke??????? [​IMG] Seriously. I Just looked at your Italian collar (I've known it as pajama collar). I know my shirtmaker makes them, but I've never dared asking for one, because samples haven't been available. Your example I find technically impressive. Clearly challenging to make. Do you fuse any part of the collar? However, stylistically speaking, it strikes me as a bit feminine. I'm sure this is not because of any shortcomings of your work. Maybe it's the collar type/pose of the mannequin combination. I'll keep an eye out for other examples of the pajama collar though... perhaps It'll change my mind. Cheers. Edit: Thanks a lot for the pics and information. Always very helpful.
     
  8. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Dear MCA, Our Italian Collar is not a Pajama collar. A traditional Pajama collar has lapels and the leaf has no interlining. The collar lays flat. The construction is completely different. Here is one of our pajama collars: [​IMG] As to the gender issue ... it's kind of all in how you wear it. You know, the attitude thing. I wear them often and have yet to be barred from the Men's room.
     
  9. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    And for tonight's desert, we have a few old leftovers: [​IMG]
     
  10. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Some have inquired regarding pearl buttons and how they are colored. They are dyed. The process for dying is complicated. We have experimented here in the kilns at our art school with good successes ... but the process is quite time-consuming and difficult. Others, for example Gritti, are able to dye certain darker colors onto troca with great consistency. There are three Gritti colors (the 6 buttons, 3rd & 4th rows, left) on this chart. The remainder* were all dyed prior to 1950 by the now defunct Schwanda Button Company of Long Island. I managed to locate the Schwanda collection a couple of decades back and acquired the majority of it. A few colors, notably White, Black("smoke"), Grey, Off-white, Abalone, and some Browns occur naturally but without, except in the case of white, consistency of either color or shell quality. *A few of the smoke colored buttons are from the Muscatine Iowa fellows and were made of mussel shells prior to 1900. [​IMG]
     
  11. linux_pro

    linux_pro Senior member

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    Alex:

    If you were to order a shirt, would you prefer MOP or troca buttons? And which collar is your favorite? What material (oxford, french oxford, end-to-end, etc)? How about french cuffs, which style do you prefer?

    And is it common for your shirts to last 20 years? How long should they last under normal wear (say, once every 8 days)?

    Thanks.
     
  12. MCA

    MCA Well-Known Member

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    Truly awesome MOP Alex. I am also impressed by you photographic capabilities.
    The middle pieces would make great cufflinks.
    Thank you.
     
  13. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    There would be no decision to make: M.O.P. unless it wasn't available because a color was needed. My favorite dress shirt collar style is the one (I believe on page 9) listed as "No Tie Space". My favorite Summer material would be the Alumo 2x2 170s Striated Voile or the Albini Zephyr Linen/Cotton. My favorite Winter fabrics would be the Alumo 2x2 170s Broadcloth, the Albini 2x2 170s Twills, or the GoldLine 2x2 140s Royal Oxfords. Finally, I almost always wear cuff links. However, if favorites are the issue, I prefer single link to folding French cuffs. Why do you ask about my favorites? Is someone offering to buy me a shirt? [​IMG]
    I was actually not happy with the photo because the real detail, especially of the hand-carved Muscatine buttons, is not visible. But at least the colors show. The middle pieces are already great cufflinks (shirtmaker's perk). I shall have this button display at the Regency for anyone wishing to 'reach out and touch'.
     
  14. petescolari

    petescolari Senior member

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    Alex,

    I just saw one of your clients today. I went to Harvard to watch the college squash nationals and Tom Wolfe was there watching his son, who plays for Trinity. He was dressed as dapper as always. I couldn't talk to him as I was seated far from him, but would have liked to ask him about your shirts.
     
  15. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Mine too.

    I notice that all those collars pictured are edge-stitched -- even the buttondown -- rather than having the more common 1/4" border stitch.  Personal preference, or client request?
     
  16. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    Now you've gone and done it. As if age wasn't evident enough in my hair color ... the last time I saw Tom's son, he was with a group of his elementary school friends I led in my Cub Scout pack. Thanks, Pete. I'll just go get my (malacca) cane and hobble off into the sunset, now.

    I'm not sure about that button-down. The shadows are doing funny things to the edge but I believe it is actually quarter-stitched. I would shuffle down to the studio and look for it to confirm, but it is on an upper shelf. A Cub Scout leader of my advancing years wouldn't want to be on a ladder without staff members ... or at least Tom's son ... around to catch me ...

    But I digress. At this point in my career, the vast majority of the collars I make are edge-stitched. If you notice that the collars are particularly flat, that is my usual style. I find that the quarter-stitch tends to break up the flat, clean line of the leaf surface. Hence, most of my personal collars are edge-stitched. After many years of visiting with clients while wearing my collars, most of them have liked the appearance, switched over and now wouldn't wear anything but.

    More interesting, perhaps, is how my penchant for edge-stitching originally came about. Back in the day ... when the clients used to walk in, peer over my shoulder, and ask, "where's the shirtmaker?", most of my staff were in their 50's. As such, they tended to be going through 'the change'. It was quite common for one of them to be yelling, "I'm hot. Isn't the air conditioner working?" at the same time as another was shouting, "Why it is so cold in here?".
    Between the clients doubting my abilities and the seamstresses certainty that I was the cause of all of the world's ills, days could be rather trying. Edge-stitched collars are the hardest of all to sew. As such, they constituted that young shirtmaker's only revenge. And so edge we stitched. Grumble they did. Sweet revenge was had. And client preferences did change.

    However, my bespoke Cubmaster shirts are quarter-stitched ...
     
  17. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    [​IMG] bespoke cubmaster shirts...that is so awesome. are the patches all hand-embroidered as well? [​IMG] /andrew - was a cub, long ago.
     
  18. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    No, the BSA Council wouldn't permit that (they had enough trouble dealing with the 100% cotton thing). However, if you look at the pearl button display on Page 9, 2nd row from the bottom, 5th button from the left ...) [​IMG]
     
  19. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Senior member

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    In my case, they are advertising. On the breast, they wouldn't show unless I were sans jacket.

    The most generally accepted placement on dress shirts is the left chest where the pocket shouldn't be. Cuff monograms have the advantage that, as indicated above, they show when wearing a jacket ... and the downside that a cuff refurbishing is going to cost an additional $28-$35.
    The lower chest placement, approximately next to the 4th button, is more common in Europe. Alan Flusser has popularized it here in the U.S.
    Inside the yoke, it can be used as a replacement for infernal laundry marks. On the lower left tail, it is a very personal statement as it is normally seen only by the wearer ... unless he gets lucky that day.
    As a bespoke maker who entirely defers to client preference in this arena, I have trained all preference out of my mind.

    I date all the shirts I make with a woven Month/Year tab on the lower right-hand front center non-placket. I have seen more cost-concious shirtmakers use only the year, which I suppose contributes to a reduction in wasted labels.

    Sorry, but having re-read this answer, I realize that you have come to the end of a long post only to know not much more than when you began reading. How 'bout this? Not all the shirts I make have monograms - it's roughly half if that is an indicator of a larger whole.
     
  20. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    Alex,

    This is with regard to the shirt lengthening discussion in the "thrift shop" thread. I have about 7/8" of fabric inside the cuff of one of my shirts. Is this enough to extend the sleeve by 1/4" or 1/2"? What is the minimum amount of fabric needed to lengthen a shirt by a given amount?

    Thanks.
     

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