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Collateralised debt a.k.a. The Cloth Thread

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So this is how big time cloth sellers look like nowadays. Happy, pleasant, generous, and prosperous. Especially the latter. I met with Suraj, a co-proprietor of NJ Bhagwan of Singapore yesterday to talk about cloths, in particular Holland & Sherry, Soktas and Drapers. Here he is showing me the new bunch design for H&S -- going forward, all the books will be in navy covers, not burgundy.

 

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The table soon became laden with cloth books. I was made to inspect each and every folder as Suraj made a running commentary on them. I've never had a real conversation about cloths with a cloth distributor until now. We went into their technical characteristics and their commercial aspects. The guy enjoys this stuff.

 

I left with a bagful of cloth books. Here's Soktas' most complete collection of shirtings. I couldn't believe he hauled it all the way from SG for me (by plane).

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It opens up like some sort of Louis Vuitton trunk dresser.

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From 300/2 all the way down to 60/2. From chairman quality down to factory line operator quality.

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Soktas cotton trouserings (extremely luxe -- these are not the sort of cloth used on Uniqlo, Gap, etc)

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It took two months for these Grandis to arrive. Six shirts worth of cloth spoken for by two customers. All 200's quality. The pink is a 200's Oxford -- fortunately not nearly as lembik as the Romentino version, which was nearly unsewable.

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The founder of Grandi passed away today.

 

"Please be informed that Mr. Remo Grandi, one of the two founders of Tessitura Grandi & Rubinelli, passed away on 19th January due to an illness.

 

"Our company will be closed on 21st January from 13.30 till 17.30."

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Enjoyed the post on Suraj. Did he bring down and compare the Soktas with Tessitura Monti? He carries Monti as well.

 

No mention of Monti. They are taking on the distributorship for Drapers beginning this month -- I just placed an order for a Drapers midnight blue tuxedo material with them.

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I was given the Scabal Eton Super 130's book today. This bunch is to Scabal what the 3-series is to BMW; it's bread and butter, the main seller, etc. The 8/9oz Super 130's market is big -- it's the preferred business suiting in upper end bespoke -- all the brands have comprehensive bunches in this quality (91 individual cloths in Scabal's case).

 

My first impression of the cloth is that it has a wetter handle than the H&S Mille Miglia (which is a Super 140's). When rolling it between the thumb and forefinger, both feel similarly "round" -- roundness refers to the resiliency of the cloth where it is folded. When compared against the H&S Dragonfly Supreme Super 160's, the Dragonfly is markedly wetter -- the Dragonfly Supreme is truly a high end lux cloth; however, the Dragonfly is only 7.5oz.

 

Frequent readers know that I hold the Mille Miglia in high regard. I've made many suits in it and it's great. The feedback from customers is also good. The Dragonfly Lightweight at 6.5oz, otoh, is a desaster for all forms of tailoring. The Dragonfly Supreme, one oz. heavier, feels more tailorable -- we have four suits in the works and I'll soon know for sure.

 

Once someone goes for the Eton I'll report more on it.

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All four cloths above are for one guy. He also has another two suits, one DB jacket and two trousers in VBC Revenge on order, jajaja, this is on top of the four suits and countless trousers he already has from me.

 

The Soktas Taylord cotton trouserings were woven specifically for the Singaporean distributor. The MOQ per color is 300 meters. There are several qualities within this bunch; some a coarser drill, some with 2% elasthan for stretchability, and some quite light and extremely smooth. Egyptian cotton, all.

 

I was told yesterday of a group of Chinese aunties who specialize in sewing jeans with chain stitch machines. They are based in KL. I hope to drop by their small workshop this week.

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So Suraj came up to KL again with a bagful of cloth books. He had a cold; I had a headache. First order of business is to show the new liveries/corp. design for Holland & Sherry. Gone is the burgundy color -- it's all navy now. Everything is fresher, more contemporary. I received maybe 7 or 8 more bunch samples, and would like to show just one for today.

 

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The Monadh. I'm not sure how it's pronounced. It's Gaelic for moorland, where Scottish merinos are raised. The wool in this bunch comes from Scottish sheep, not the usual Australian merino. Single origin wool, like single origin coffee. Blended with silk for luster. 8 oz.

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Second order of business is the introduction (or maybe re-introduction) of Drapers to the SE Asian markets. But, I need to go out for a vegan lunch now so stay tuned for more.

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Drapers is 50% owned by VBC with the other half owned by Domenico Lolli, son of the founder Arturo. Naturally, a lot of Drapers is woven by VBC but to a much higher specification than VBC's own stuff.

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Drapers is extremely Italian in aesthetic; they make almost no concession to other parts of the world. Creative, innovative, boundary-pushing, crazy Italian stuff.

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Entirely unexpected was this small, obscure mill: Fratelli Piacenza, whose products are either labeled Piacenza 1733 (cloth) or Piacenza Cashmere (garments). I had to read up what little there is on them just now. They seem to specialize in weaving cloths from various furry animals: cashmere, vicuña, baby llamas, baby camels, etc.

 

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They make incredibly high end stuff for God knows who. Oligarchs, probably. For instance, this Super 210's.

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Or, this air force blue nearly identical to the kerbau cloth except this is 100% cashmere.

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Piacenza has a little bunch it calls " Tobacco" with seven cloths of a similar color but with very different weaves.

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There are lots more from Piacenza but I have clothes to make, so some other time.

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The process of making shirtings by the Albini Group. First, growing the cotton.

 

Then, making the yarn. Astoundingly capital intensive.

http://youtu.be/aotoV0_lAqs

 

Then, weaving and finishing, both expertise and capital intensive.

 

Looking at thee vids, I have to conclude that these mills need scale. Without wide distribution and sufficient demand, they can't exist. Which is why most also weave a lot of lower end stuff for the RTW industry.

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A customer asked me if I have "Harrisons Cru". Not being familiar with Harrisons' qualities, I took a look at their collections and found an inexplicable fondness for the word "cru" amongst those who run that company. They have the Cru Classe, a 10oz Super 120's with or without 1% cashmere. Then they have the Grand Cru, a lightweight Super 150's. To make sure no tailor of average intelligence like myself would ever be able to know what damned cru means what, they have the Premier Cru, a workhorse cloth of basic spec (11oz Super 100's). To make sure even cognitively developed tailors will never remember what cru is which, they thought it a good idea to have a Premier Grand Cru.

 

Jesus Christ. What a marketing disaster.

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My customer just clarified and said he meant the Grand Cru. I looked again at that blighted company's site and found they have TWO Grand Crus: One a 8oz and another a 11oz. Jesus.

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I mean, the guys running Harrisons have to be borderline retarded to name their cloths like that. Nobody can remember which Cru is which. Was it the one which is Grand, or was it Premier? Or was it both Grand and Premier? Maybe it was the Classe?

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I am in the UK for my studies and I am looking for items to bring back home to Malaysia to hopefully make a bespoke suit with.

 

Can someone guide me on the things to buy?

I know that the primary item would be the cloth but there are other items like buttons, lining, and etc. Not to mention quality, color, etc. Also need guidance on where to get them.

 

Cheers!

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