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The suiting thread

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VBC Perennial

Absolute entry level Italian made cloth that gives a taste of the higher end

Pros:

Very budget friendly

Durable

Brilliant colours

Cons:

The raw wool used is unremarkable, resulting in mediocre handle and liveliness.  

 

 

Today, I’m reviewing the Perennial bunch by Vitale Barberis Canonico which I’ll abbreviate to VBC. It is a widely distributed cloth, carried by many tailors, not just locally, but all around the world. Let’s look at the specifications of the cloth.

Specs

It weighs between 8.5 to 9 oz, or 260 to 280 grams per meter. It is a pure merino wool with a Supers rating of 110’s. It is made in Italy by VBC. In terms of price bracket, it is definitely in the budget entry-level category.

 

What it is intended for

The Perennial is a general purpose, all climate cloth for suits, jackets, and trousers. A standout feature of the bunch is the extremely good value for money. VBC describes it as “its global bestseller” and I see no reason to disbelieve that. It is in a weight class that makes it wearable in all climates, layer it if you’re in a colder place, and the patterns are classic and very conservative. Add to that the fact that it’s almost impossible to find a better price, for a pure wool, made in Italy product and it becomes obvious why it has to sell well. In my own practice, there is no other cloth we use more for suits, than this one.

 

The patterns

There is nothing fashion forward in the designs of this book. In fact, I don’t think I saw a single original design. Instead, you get all the perennial classics, presented classically without any twist or reinterpretation.

 

Types of weaves

The predominant type of weave is the 2x2 twill, unless the pattern requires a different weave as is the case with the birdeyes.

 

Surface finish

The surface is completely clean cut.

 

Luster

There is no sheen to the cloth whatsoever, but neither is it overtly matt or fuzzy or rustic.


 

Colours

Apart from the price, the other standout feature of this bunch is the brilliance of the colours. Dye density is very high. Blues are startlingly blue with no trace of dustiness or chalkiness to the appearance. The blacks are some of the blackest I’ve seen in this price bracket, again with no signs of chalkiness. To get something much blacker, you’d have to turn to the Holland & Sherry Fiesta with its double dyed jet black, whch is so black it makes the Perennial look chalky and dusty. If I must give a tone to the blacks in this bunch, I would say they tend a little bit towards blue. This is a lot better than blacks that tend towards green.

The light greys and the mid greys are tonally very neutral, showing neither warmth nor coolness.

 

Porosity

These are not porous cloths. The twill weave makes them densely woven. When you hold the cloth to the light, nothing passes through. Yet, because of the relative lightness of the cloth at 8.5 to 9 oz. the cloth does not wear warm. 

 

Handle

The handle is what you would expect of a Super 110’s cloth with a twill weave with no uptwist. It is unremarkable, and unmemorable. Neither it is offensive. 

 

Spring

Spring is below average. It doesn’t have the spring of a high crimp wool like Escorial, or nor has it the spring of a high twist wool. 

 

Visual association (flashy K-pop, luxury luster, luxury matte, mid segment Italian, H&M, vintage, etc.)

In general appearance, I’d associate it with the look of a low end branded Italian RTW, or high end mass market.

 

Mouldability

It is not a mouldable cloth, so I would not rely on the cloth tolerating much shrinkage with the iron without buckling, nor would I try stretching it much with the iron.

 

Crease resistance

Crease resistance is within expectations. It doesn’t withstand creases like a high percentage mohair would, but it is not without a degree of immunity to it either.

 

Crease recovery

Crease recovery is unremarkable and unmemorable. To really remove creases will require an iron.

 

Abrasion resistance

Abrasion resistance is very good. As it gets worn, worn as in old, the surface becomes burnished from repeated abrasion, and it develops a shine that cannot be removed. It will shine more in high touch areas that has received more burnishing. But otherwise, the cloth almost never gets worn thin, not even after years of intermittent wear. 

 

Comparison to peers & value for money

The Perennial is a long established offering in a segment that enjoys high demand: It’s the Super 100’s to 120’s, 9 oz segment. Every cloth brand has an offering in this segment. 

Holland & Sherry’s offering is even named similarly, having christened it Perennial Classics. Unlike the bunch under review, the competitor from Holland & Sherry has a higher end appearance, and is more robust as a 2X2 ply twill.

Officine Paladino has the Enzo and Mondo collections which share very similar specs to the VBC Perennial, but the designs are original and fashion forward.

Standeven has the Park Lane Super 120’s bunch, which is altogether stouter than the Perennial at 10oz and 2x2 ply at that.

 

Within the same brand

Within the VBC family, the Perennial has siblings. The Sunny Seasons bunch by VBC is the tropical version of the Perennial, featuring porous high twist panama weaves, more breathable prunelles instead of twills, and breezy wool-mohair blends. Prices are comparable.

 

Options at a higher price bracket

 

The Revenge, also by VBC, is the natural step up. The Revenge is a Super 150’s. You can think of it as the Super 150’s version of the Perennial. Handle is more luxurious, and it looks higher end through an even smoother surface finish. 

 

Options at a lower price bracket

There are no options at a lower price bracket since the Perennial is the absolute entry level pricing. Cloths any cheaper would have to come from China.

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I just searched "mark cho cloth review" and I see his many watch reviews, but no cloth reviews. "Mark cho vitale barberis canonico" brings up his recent commission of a custom cloth with VBC, but no reviews.

I think I am the first to review it this comprehensively.

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Even if such videos already exist, and even if those I am about to make are inferior in every possible way (as a hypothetical case), the business logic of making such videos nonetheless is very compelling. Non-commodity businesses are based on special insights---I am not sharing the business logic I just mentioned. The only reason I didn't start earlier is because I was too busy making clothes to be making videos. The reason I'm making them now is because the recession and MCO choked demand for what we produce, so I now have the time to make other things like videos.

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Lovely. Will this series be something like a Top 10 fabrics, most value for money, most luxurious?  

or maybe even FAQs on shirts trousers jackets.  based on your experience with clients expectations  

Which reminded me, I was in a small local shirt factory once. This young chap kept squeezing the love handles of his shirt, indicating that it’s baggy.

The owner said it was already tight. And any tighter would be too tight. (and they’re famous for slim fits!) In the end she gave in and reduced the ease on both sides by 1/8” and told him to not come again. Lol

 

 

 

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FB_IMG_1612467016422.jpg?raw=1

A certain Mohd Iqbal Firdaus posted the above picture of a buttonhole he was making to my FB, asking me where I sourced my gimp. I went to his FB, whereupon I saw the completed buttonhole. 

FB_IMG_1612467352770.jpg?raw=1

Alas, from his FB postings I see he is quite vehemently religious. Very right wing. The more religious you are, the meeker you should become. That's how you know you're making progress. 

If your religion makes you angry at others, then you're doing it wrong. 

Also, he was selling a soft copy of a tailoring book which he pirated for RM220. How curious. 

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PICT_20210205_195801.jpg?raw=1

Even made the thumbnail. Which I heard on YouTube is the most important element of the video. Just like JAV covers. The content can be mediocre, but the cover must be great. 

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Yea, thumbnail, very important, click-bait is what some YouTubers do.

When's the full video coming out? Can see that you are making much progress, quality must be good, high hopes!

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On 2/4/2021 at 9:35 PM, terrifictrousers said:

Lovely. Will this series be something like a Top 10 fabrics, most value for money, most luxurious?  

or maybe even FAQs on shirts trousers jackets.  based on your experience with clients expectations  

Which reminded me, I was in a small local shirt factory once. This young chap kept squeezing the love handles of his shirt, indicating that it’s baggy.

The owner said it was already tight. And any tighter would be too tight. (and they’re famous for slim fits!) In the end she gave in and reduced the ease on both sides by 1/8” and told him to not come again. Lol

 

 

 

I'm not that in love with cloths to want to be obsessively reviewing them. However, the business case for doing so is compelling. I'll just review a few bunches and see how it goes. Who knows, by then covid may be under control and I'm busy again with making clothes. 

I would love to explain my philosophy when it comes to fitting shirts, trousers and jackets, etc. But it would be a very long story. The first in the series could be titled "My philosophy of fit in 12 episodes. Episode One: The shirt, for the proportionate customer."

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I think Timeless came about to introduce more patterns. It's identical to Perennial, save for more checks. The plains are the same. 

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Like most of you, I've read Tommy Thomas' book, which has somehow slipped into the informal public domain. 

I love the way he approached writing the book. Instead of putting quality into turns of phrases like so many authors like to do, the prose is so direct and prosaic. Instead, the quality is in the unflinching and head on description of issues that are in the common interest. He does not sidestep contentious things, nor does he spare egos. He wrote his truth. This, for me, is real quality. 

I am also familiar with the tort of defamation, having done much reading about it. All those suing Thomas for defamation will unlikely be successful, unless it is appealed and goes to court of appeal. Which has quite the reputation. Not necessarily positive. 

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I wonder if Raus will also sue Tommy. I can imagine the whatsapp between apandi and raus. 

Apandi: bro, you suing? 

Raus: no point. Cannot win. 

Apandi: it's not about winning. It's about putting your incredulity on the record. 

Raus: no need lah

Apandi: ur too pacifist. It's about ur reputation. For posterity too. Also depends who hears the case. Have chance. The whole geng suing, bro. 

Raus: let me consider

 

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In editing, I realised the script was not ideal for narration. Not sure if I care enough to want to rewrite, reshoot, and re-edit. Takes so many hours it's ridiculous. 

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I'm supposed to shoot some B roll to include into the video. But I'm thinking if the video as it is doesn't stand, no b roll will save it. 

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Welcome back to another episode! Today I want to talk about the biggest threat to your beautiful suits. This is not something I hear people talk about; but if you own suits, and I think you do, you need to hear about this.

Because you see, in my practice I have seen more suits damaged this way than any other way.

I hear of my customers losing their suits due to having them left behind in airports or through luggage theft again either in airports or in hotels. I hear of them being totalled due to their domestic helpers or well-meaning parents who are visiting putting the suits into the washing machine, I keep hearing of and seeing mechanical damage due to snagging on sharp objects and the like.

But the biggest source of damage to suits....

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In rehearsing for and making these videos, I've come to regard myself as an instrument. What a novel way of regarding myself. I am like a guitar or violin. My mind is the player of the instrument, making it perform a certain way.

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Welcome back to another episode. Today I want to talk about the biggest threat to your beautiful suits. This is not something I hear people talk about; but if you own suits, and I think you do, you need to hear about this.

 

Because you see, in my practice I have seen more suits damaged this way than any other way.

 

I hear of my customers losing their suits due to having them left behind in airports or through luggage theft again either in airports or in hotels. I hear of them being totalled due to their domestic helpers or well-meaning parents who are visiting putting the suits into the washing machine, I keep hearing of and seeing mechanical damage due to snagging on sharp objects and the like.

 

But the biggest source of damage to suits...comes from moths.

 

The common moth, also known as the clothes moth is a flying insect. It is small at 6-7mm in length. It has a rather pale straw colour. 

 

Unlike the mosquito or the fly which seeks you out and buzzes around you, or sucks your blood, the common moth has no interest in humans. It minds its own business. Because of that, we don’t notice them.

 

Moths have a keen sense of smell tuned to detect 2 things. One, the opposite sex, and two, food. Food in this case being natural fibers, in particular wool. But silk is also interesting to them. But the moth doesn't eat the wool. In fact, the moth has no mouth to feed with. 

 

The moth has only one purpose in life, and that is to reproduce. After mating, the female moth lays eggs in clusters of up to 200 eggs. It is picky about where it lays those eggs. It seeks out an edible substrate. In this case, that’s your suit. The larva does all the eating. It starts feeding immediately after hatching, and will continue feeding for several weeks. Though small, it has sharp teeth that can cut through even tough synthetic fibers to get to the natural fibers.

 

So how do we stop them? There are two approaches. One, you repel them. Two, you kill them.

 

But you need to realise we’re dealing with almost two species of insects, not one. Because the adult moth flying around is a very different insect than the larva that is munching through your cashmere overcoat.

 

Repelling only works when they are in the adult stage. The traditional solution is to use moth balls. But some people really don’t like the smell, and some worry about the potential toxicities. Moth balls are pure napthalene nowadays, and napthalene has been banned in the EU since 2008. But are still available everywhere in Malaysia. If you do use moth balls, here’s a tip. Instead of breaking open the packaging and spreading the balls around on the bottom of your closet, you just puncture the packaging. 

 

But let me let you in on something: Anything that works in repelling mosquitoes works in repelling adult moths. So these, and these will keep moths away. If you notice adult moths around the floor near your closet, use these to exterminate them.

 

If you notice any adult moths whatsoever, it is imperative that you start killing the eggs and larva that may be on your garments. To kill them, we use the fact that proteins denature at temperatures above 41 degrees Celcuis. You can heat up your garments to this temperature in 2 ways. One, you sun them outside in the hot afternoon sun, or two, you press them with a hot iron. Another way is to send them for dry cleaning.

 

So let me summarise. Moths are the biggest threat to your suits. You can eliminate them by using mosquito repellent near your closet. If you find even one moth in your house, it is a good idea to kill any potential eggs or larva on your garments. You do this by thoroughly heating the garments to above 41 degrees Cecius.

 

So there you have it. Threat eliminated. Till the next one.

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