Sartorial Stories In The News

Lobbster

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I've heard different things told by his former business partner. Makes you wonder, though, why he needed a third party investor in the first place.
But perhaps all this belongs in the "Sartorial stories" thread.
Come on, spread the gossip.

Off-the-row companies struggling to sell their overpriced clobber? No surprise there for me. He milked the fact that he once worked for Prince Charles and now he's banging on about clients and relationships. At the prices they're asking there are only so many people willing to spend these amounts on a suit and with their constant increases in price it's not like they're becoming more.
 

Scherensammler

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Come on, spread the gossip.

Off-the-row companies struggling to sell their overpriced clobber? No surprise there for me. He milked the fact that he once worked for Prince Charles and now he's banging on about clients and relationships. At the prices they're asking there are only so many people willing to spend these amounts on a suit and with their constant increases in price it's not like they're becoming more.
Well, rumours in the trade are that he was more into "social activities" (if you know what I mean) than doing actual work as a cutter (that's part of why he and Edwin split up. Edwin was left with doing the heavy lifting).
And this "I worked on Savile Row" reputation thing is silly at best. Having had your hands between the legs of some celebrity or oligarch doesn't necessarily make you a better cutter.
He recently also had a retail shop in London, so maybe he got in over his head a bit too much?
Last I read about Mahon's MTM business was that he had it made in Japan, so maybe they took over?
The price difference between his full bespoke and the MTM stuff was incredible.
 

Lord Buckley

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It's not unusual for the founder of a company to be ousted by the new shareholders once they reach critical mass. He brought a financial partner in for a reason either because he couldn't run the business from the financial side, or he needed their capital to expand. If you want to keep full control then you need to remain the single shareholder.

As an outsider, there's not much in that blog piece other than self-promotion and likely some sour grapes. The substance is lacking, probably for legal reasons. Did he walk away with a juicy pay off?

What was the price difference between the bespoke and MTM stuff?
 

Scherensammler

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What was the price difference between the bespoke and MTM stuff?
Less than a third for the MTM compared to "bespoke"! I had a newsletter once talking about 700 GBP (perhaps more for more expensive cloths). Bespoke probably around 3000,- GBP.
When I first visited the UK in 2014 my now boss took me to Steed's place (he worked with Edwin for Edward Sexton once) in Carlisle and to Mahon's place (can't remember the name of that village).
While Edwin's place is small, he and his tailors seemed very busy, while Mahon's place was a lot bigger but practically empty with nobody in.

If you want to keep full control then you need to remain the single shareholder.
Well, from what I heard, apart from Davies & Sons (and maybe Maurice Sedwell) most of the other bigger firms are owned by foreign nationals. When a bespoke tailoring house starts selling RTW it usually means an outsider is trying to monetize their reputation.
 

Lord Buckley

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Well, from what I heard, apart from Davies & Sons (and maybe Maurice Sedwell) most of the other bigger firms are owned by foreign nationals. When a bespoke tailoring house starts selling RTW it usually means an outsider is trying to monetize their reputation.
There's nothing wrong with that necessarily, the bigger outfits, such as Gieves & Hawkes did this successfully for awhile, but now under the Trinity Group....

Turnbull & Asser are pretty much spot on under Fayed.

The big problem they all have is the rent on the Row and elsewhere in London makes the bespoke market a nice niche add on. They need to be churning them out in large volumes to just cover the rent big time. So they have to become a brand. Lifestyle preferably.

Hence the off Row bespoke market, agile and mobile should be able to compete and deliver the exclusivity that the Row no longer supplies. But that market is always going to be small and when you start getting bigger, you'll soon come up against a saturated market and the limits of growth.
 

TheUntermensch

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All right, I'll post this here, where it belongs:
https://www.cuttinganswers.com/index.html

English Cut seemed to be on the verge of something big up until a few months ago, if the Youtube videos are to be believed. MTM tailored in India and so on, with Mahon providing most of the design and technical direction. So what happened that got Mahon kicked out? It's a damn shame because I always liked the man.

I've seen comments elsewhere on the vast difference between his bespoke and MTM offer, but £3000 for a bespoke suit is really a very fair price when compared to the likes of Cifonelli, or indeed compared to any Savile Row tailor.

What does it all mean for us Untermenschen? Are we witnessing the disappearance of the £2000-3000 bespoke suit? Will it be a choice between RTR at £1000 or bespoke at £5000+ ?
 

fxh

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All right, I'll post this here, where it belongs:
https://www.cuttinganswers.com/index.html

English Cut seemed to be on the verge of something big up until a few months ago, if the Youtube videos are to be believed. MTM tailored in India and so on, with Mahon providing most of the design and technical direction. So what happened that got Mahon kicked out? It's a damn shame because I always liked the man.

I've seen comments elsewhere on the vast difference between his bespoke and MTM offer, but £3000 for a bespoke suit is really a very fair price when compared to the likes of Cifonelli, or indeed compared to any Savile Row tailor.

What does it all mean for us Untermenschen? Are we witnessing the disappearance of the £2000-3000 bespoke suit? Will it be a choice between RTR at £1000 or bespoke at £5000+ ?
Whats the back story?

Is it perhaps a simple story of someone in their own small (artisan) business bringing a partner with $$ to expand and do "the business side" and then discovering that the partner actually starts doing "the business side" properly and it needs some changes to the business to succeed in scale or scope?

I've seen this happen on small and big scales. Often the original owner thinks you can get the capital and the change needed without actually changing. The "business investor" is than demonised as being too corporate or only interested in money etc etc .
 

Scherensammler

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My guess is that he tried to make big money with the RTW shop(s) and reduce his work load. So his business partner must have pumped quite a bit of money into English Cut. Whether they always had the plan to get him out, who knows?
But since the wanted to employ him, I guess not. Maybe his pay check was too low for his likings?
I wonder whether he got a little pay out for the company name (as there is little else with value), so he can start over.
What does it all mean for us Untermenschen? Are we witnessing the disappearance of the £2000-3000 bespoke suit? Will it be a choice between RTR at £1000 or bespoke at £5000+ ?
There are still a few tailors in London and other places that make suits in that price range (we are well below those prices, BTW).
The bigger problem, especially in London, will be to find cutters/ tailors that can work in-house, simply because there is no affordable housing in or near London (unless you are rich or on benefits, of course). The next step will be even more tailors working at home rather than wasting time on the commute to work.
 

Lord Buckley

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Kingstonian

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Demand for suits is not what it was. Tailoring skills are not what they were.
The very rich will stick with what they know and pay the price.
Those with smaller budgets who need a suit will buy inexpensive RTW.
That makes the middle ground a tricky area to make money.
Cut price tailoring is available in the Far East and you could take a holiday as well.
 

Lord Buckley

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Demand for suits is not what it was. Tailoring skills are not what they were.
The very rich will stick with what they know and pay the price.
Those with smaller budgets who need a suit will buy inexpensive RTW.
That makes the middle ground a tricky area to make money.
Cut price tailoring is available in the Far East and you could take a holiday as well.
The conundrum is do you need bespoke to look good or not? And if the answer is yes, can you afford it?

Looking good should not be the preserve of those who can afford fancy tailors.

The same as a decent watch collection should not be the sole preserve of those who can afford luxury watches.

Post WWII, after the New Edwardians, in the Fifties and Sixties for quite sometime English tailoring was led by the working class. Mod certainly was. The upper echelons cosplay of some of the sartorial forums cuts against the UK experience where the working and upper classes dressed well and the middle class looked like shite.

Other than specific cloths, house styles, operating outside of the vagaries of fashion, weird body shapes, is bespoke remotely worth it? Probably not, but if you can afford it....
 

doghouse

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They went bankrupt. They were in administration, don't know if that's been mentioned yet. They are up for sale. I imagine his shares of the company were worthless and there was no money left to pay him.

https://www.drapersonline.com/news/...sale-following-administration/7025155.article
So I just read abut this over on the LL.

I tended to like Mahon's videos a lot, but his blog post on this event was one big ass nonsensical whinge.

Well, from what I heard, apart from Davies & Sons (and maybe Maurice Sedwell) most of the other bigger firms are owned by foreign nationals. When a bespoke tailoring house starts selling RTW it usually means an outsider is trying to monetize their reputation.
There's a lot more than those two by my reckoning.
 

fxh

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NON-FICTION

THE LA RAG TRADE
Atlases of Experience by Christina Moon Photography by Lauren Lancaster

Keywords: Banality of Our Wearable Things, Fast Fashion Paranoia, Forever 21, Jobber Markets, On Failure, Supply Chains


IN THE LOS ANGELES ‘Jobber Market,’ the hub for fast fashion within the U.S., the multitude of failures that arrives and presents itself at every turn is overwhelming. It comes with the disorienting sense that one will never possess enough information. Or that the predictions on colour, trim or trend, that provided some profit for today, will turn out quite differently for tomorrow. It’s the daily ‘not knowing’ – that one step away from risk, bankruptcy, failure – that manifests itself in paranoia or accumulates in the form of total exhaustion among all those who work in this garment district.

I’ve been coming to this neighbourhood in downtown L.A. for the last five years to carry out research on the fast fashion industry. Considered the nerve centre for fast fashion in the U.S., the Jobber Market consists of nearly six thousand clothing lines designed and distributed from small five hundred square feet showrooms that line the streets and alleyways of one square mile. Most of these labels are in actuality small-time clothing manufacturers, operated by Korean American and Korean Brazilian entrepreneurs, who produce clothing for the majority of American retailers and have fuelled the fast fashion industry within the U.S. Most of the cheap and trendy clothes are designed in L.A. among first and second generation Korean Americans, manufactured in China, then shipped back to L.A. to be distributed by retailers like Forever 21, the largest fast-fashion retailer in the U.S. which is also owned by Korean Americans. And even though this clothing market – within this small urban neighbourhood run by immigrants and their children – might just be a small blip of a place in the global universe of fashion, the risks taken and failures endured in its alleyways and narrow streets are the reverberations of fashion’s entire global supply chain. Like little filigree tremors, failures felt here reflect the ‘continuously-being-made’ global landscape of destruction in fashion in the twenty-first century, yet these spaces also serve as pockets of hope and possibility for all those who work within it.

It’s quite astonishing to play out all that could possibly go wrong in the making of a single piece of clothing. It may begin with news of a rusty button or a loose stitch, or that the grading of a shirt is off just by a quarter inch in an order of thousands of blouses or tops. You may have manufactured the top in horizontal stripes in red or black – those French boat-necked shirts always seem to come back into trend – only now your timing is off since all the showrooms in the district are beginning to sell them. You might be awake at night thinking about all those thousands of pleather jackets you have stuck sitting at the port, held captive until you can come up with the cash to pay. Or you’ve just gotten off the phone with your big American retail buyer who is going to fine you ten cents a piece for having the hang tags on your order pinned in the wrong place. The workers in China are on holiday or on strike or there is some kind of problem. One of the factories you use, the one that can produce so many different types of stitches, cannot do the kind of embroidery you are asking them to do. The department store buyer decides that your neighbour in the showroom next door will sell a similar product at a slightly cheaper cost – did your factory cut a better deal with her? Did your neighbour rip off your designs? Did they talk? Your employee, the godfather of your child, just took off one day and you learn many months later from all the gossip in the district that he had to cross the border into Mexico to see an ill relative but couldn’t tell anyone including you. Now he can’t get back across because the cost of the coyote has jumped since the last two times he crossed. On the worst days, you tell me about the closeout buyers who make their rounds throughout the district sniffing out fear and desperation. Like ‘rats stinking cheese,’ you tell me – your failure means a bargain to them, an easy load for resale in another market or continent. A copy of a cease and desist letter arrives from a powerful online company being threatened by Burberry because of a jacket you’ve manufactured for the company – its lining poorly resembling the signature Burberry plaid – never mind that you’ve only made and sold two hundred pieces, and that your profit margins are miniscule.

In the L.A. Jobber Market, it is the potential of failure at every fleeting second of the making of clothing that makes fast fashion within the U.S. possible. In such a volatile global market of clothing where consumer taste is finicky, every single decision has the potential to collapse a line of clothing like a house of cards. All relationships of trust are held with suspicion; they are fragile and attended to, performed and maintained. Bankruptcy is palpable and embodied in the quickly changing nature of store names. It’s no wonder then, that this community of fast fashion manufacturers, garment vendors and traders are all so highly religious. For all the times one fails, left in debt or with nothing, one needs to have something permanent to hold on to – family, salvation, faith, and God. The walls of showrooms are often adorned with crucifixes or bible verses. Printed on the bottom of every Forever 21 yellow shopping bag is the bible verse John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

I study these fragile ecologies of clothing that have sprung from our twenty-first century globalised fashion industry. New markets have emerged among the massive movements of mostly female migrant workers who today labour in the countless and anonymous garment factories around the world. These fleeting interstitial spaces are the meeting place for all kinds of risk takers, intermediaries and brokers: the buyers and sellers, nomads, and traders. Few make it big and most scrape by, making little profit while risking everything. Come to one of these markets and tug on a thread and it will inevitably lead you to the big name retailer or brand selling this stuff in your hometown store. Tug even more and it may lead you to the very bottom of the supply chain, to a migrant worker on a global assembly line of production. The Jobber Market in L.A. leads to Guangzhou market in China’s Pearl River Delta, Qipa Lu in Shanghai, or Bom Retiro in São Paulo. Keep following the supply chain and it will lead you to the ‘second’ or ‘third tier’ garment cities of the world, to industrial zones, manufacturing hubs, factories and sweatshops.



I am attracted to these interstitial spaces because failure and despair sit so intimately with aspiration and hope. These clothing markets, like the one in L.A., are a landscape of urban pastoral foraging – countless layers of ordinary people who are on a search to catch the next trend, or strike a deal with a fabric supplier, or unload dead stock. These men and women find gems in the rough and turn a profit out of nothing, all from the buying and selling of clothing. These are markets created out of almost nothing, often comprised of migrants who have had to move several times – back and forth between cities and across borders – often bringing with them nothing other than their entrepreneurial skill and creative minds, sets of experience, diasporic connections and knowledge from having worked years in the rag trade. This kind of work often permits one to be one’s own boss, to work outside of a wage system even if to make such small profit. And for me, the innovators and creative makers are among these traders, who emerge from the most tenuous spaces that global capitalism in fashion produces.

Failure sits closely with innovation and creativity. Walking through the wholesale market in Shanghai, a friend explains to me that the copies of the copies of the copies should actually be thought of as a game of Chinese whispers; the object that resembles Chanel, Prada and Michael Kors combined has gone through so many stages of becoming that it has, in the end, become its own entity. I marvel at all the different technologies and hand-sewn skills that are evident in that one copied object, from digital printing to hand dying or sequined embroidery. In the Los Angeles Jobber Market, the divisions of labour in skill and the networks of trust created among Korean family manufacturers have both innovated designs but also cut down on production time, subverting buying structures of traditional department stores that would not originally buy from them. From an Italian economist, I learn that second generation Chinese Italians, having grown up in the garment district in Prato though still denied Italian citizenship, are revitalising old Italian fashion manufacturing houses within the city by forming alliances with older generations of Italian makers. These second generation immigrants and industrialists are looking to find ways to create better designs and more sustainable ways of making. And I am convinced that the big companies whose names and symbols we seem to worship and who take claim in terms of creativity and profit, rely and draw on the failures and creativity that come from these anonymous risk takers from below. Fashion is less the result of corporate innovation or simple ‘trickle-down’ economics in some imagined fashion pyramid and more the result of the innovations made by those at the bottom of the supply chain – the unseen and vanishingly small with their atlases of experience – their successful decisions and sets of negotiations embodied in our everyday clothing.

The anthropologist Anna Tsing describes the blooming of a rare matsutake mushroom from the ashes of a nuclear war, a mushroom that is now foraged after by refugees, war vets, and the undocumented alike in the forests of the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. to sell on the black market for high prices. And in many ways, I have come to understand the global fashion industry in this way – among these landscapes of destruction that have exploited workers and cared little for the environment. These survivors of failure, who have failed over and over again, produce the successful clothing we all wear because they have had no other choice than to persist and change and adapt and innovate as much as the fashions themselves. These bubbling pockets of creativity occur alongside risk and failure, illegality and inequality, hidden and covert as evidenced in the banality of our wearable things.



Christina Moon is an assistant professor at the School of Art and Design History and Theory and director of the MA Fashion Studies at Parsons The New School for Design.

Lauren Lancaster is a photographer whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times and Time magazine. The series featured here is a work-in-progress and collaboration with Christina Moon.

This article was originally published in Vestoj: On Failure.
 

Lord Buckley

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A copy of a cease and desist letter arrives from a powerful online company being threatened by Burberry because of a jacket you’ve manufactured for the company – its lining poorly resembling the signature Burberry plaid – never mind that you’ve only made and sold two hundred pieces, and that your profit margins are miniscule.
An interesting article on romancing what must be the desperate factory life of world citizen itinerants working on the black from day to day.

As it happens my brother had his own legal dealings with Burberry and Mulberry. He was running as a side line hobby an ebay store selling clothes. At first it was all non-iron stuff. I looked him on Dun & Bradstreet and he had well over GBP 100,000 in stock, which is quite something in a suburban home. Last week back in England I asked him what became of this....

He was racking it in, from the all four corners of the world. The best product they ever had was Burberry umbrellas that they bought for GBP 5 and were selling for GBP 100. The business exploded and they were going into outlet villages and buying whole assignments of stock. They would get quite frequently people saying that their husband was a police man and that the product they sent was fake and they needed to refund them or they would go to the police. So my brother and his missus would send the receipt from the official branded store and tell them to get lost. But this was a common scam tried by ebay buyers.

Anyway, the business was taking over their lives and then he got legal letters from Burberry and Mulberry banning him from their shops for life and threatening him with legal action should he continue selling their gear. He took that as a sign and sold off the stock he had and closed the business.

His conclusion was that he was at the back-end of that boom and that the brands are all online now and doing it for themselves, so no longer a viable business anyway.
 
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Scherensammler

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For those who fancy taking up TopTop™ tailoring classes, now is the chance.
Ex-Golden shears winner Rory Duffy has opened his tailoring school:

http://roryduffybespoke.com/academy-main/

And you even have the chance to win a scholarship:

The Handcraft Tailor Academy in partnership with Dugdale Bros & Co., ASBCI and The Textile Institute are delighted to announce the launch of the Handcraft Tailor Academy Scholarship Award 2018.
The winner of this prestigious scholarship will have the opportunity to undertake a place on the 12 week Summer course at the Handcraft Tailor Academy in picturesque Monaghan, Republic of Ireland (June to August 2018). Under the tuition and guidance of Master Tailor Rory Duffy ( formerly Henry Poole and lecturer at Parsons The New School, USA) the winning student will learn to measure, draft, fit and make a mens bespoke suit using old world Savile Row techniques passed down through generations of time served tailors.
Prize includes course fees covered by the Handcraft Tailor Academy, accommodation costs of £1750 and £250 worth of cloth sponsored by Dugdale Bros & Co, as well as £200 towards travel costs from the Textile Institute.


https://htsaward.wixsite.com/htsa (https://htsaward.wixsite.com/htsa)
Rory trained at Poole, so maybe doghouse doghouse knows him from his visits? However, I think calling him a "master tailor" is a bit much.
 

doghouse

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Rory trained at Poole, so maybe doghouse doghouse knows him from his visits? However, I think calling him a "master tailor" is a bit much.
I actually never met him. If I recall correctly he was not there terribly long, I think most of his association with Poole is he won the Golden Shears while he was there. Really, I think the level of worker aiming for the Shears are not the ones that deal with the customers.

I'm definitely not sold on the 'master tailor' bit. And that's nothing against Rory, but seems a little over the top. I do feel bad that one crazy fucker on SF flipped his lid trying to promote him, and probably biases a lot of people to think Duffy is a con artist.

I tip my hat to him for finding an alternate revenue stream, because it damn sure isn't roses in the tailoring business these days.
 

TheUntermensch

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Thank fuck my arse. From where I stand, prices for bespoke keep rising, and prices for shoite RTW pitched at the 'luxury' level keep rising too.

How did we get here? In my grandfather's day, every town and village had its tailor, and men, even working class, looked more or less presentable and their clothes seemed to be well-cut. Which, after all, is all that the Untermenschen are looking for in bespoke. We don't have bodies that RTW patterns are cut for.

I just don't know. It doesn't look good. We reached peak bespoke, and instead of prices going down and tailors digging in, we got prices going up, and tailors going bust and chucking it in. Sometimes I wish I could wear shell suits.
 

Scherensammler

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I'm definitely not sold on the 'master tailor' bit. And that's nothing against Rory, but seems a little over the top. I do feel bad that one crazy fucker on SF flipped his lid trying to promote him, and probably biases a lot of people to think Duffy is a con artist.
Don't know about SF, but I know people who dealt with him directly and didn't like it. He tried to work for and with the company my boss now works for and the story is that Rory not only has a temper but also enjoys the booze a bit too much. He is (allegedly) quite brash with customers (in particular the unhappy ones, see Andrew Yamato), he likes Asian women and literally tried to hook up with some of the female workers in the China workshop.
His tailoring is rather crude and not very impressive and he never made it beyond coat maker level, not even under-striker, so calling himself "master tailor" is a bit of a stretch.
Thank fuck my arse. From where I stand, prices for bespoke keep rising, and prices for shoite RTW pitched at the 'luxury' level keep rising too.

How did we get here?
Blame marketing, especially in the fashion industry. They have been pushing the brand idea for decades and now certain people connect their self worth to the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the list goes on and on.
That includes all those fashion bloggers, vloggers and other "influencers" on the internet. These fashion corporations make so much money that they can afford to bid on an insanely expensive property that has a famous address, like any building on Savile Row.
When most of your profit goes towards paying overheads and you still want/ need to pay your staff and have some money left for yourself you are practically forced to raise your prices.
BTW, compared to what a car mechanic charges per hour (at least in Germany), bespoke is dead cheap given the hours that go into the garments.
 

Lobbster

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BTW, compared to what a car mechanic charges per hour (at least in Germany), bespoke is dead cheap given the hours that go into the garments.
Never understood this argument as you can apply it to any line of work, be it teachers, nurses, chefs or whatever. It's why bespoke is paid per garment and not for the hours that go into it.
 
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