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Let's talk about Cloth

by Gary Newbold November 19, 2016 2 Comments

Let's talk about Cloth

Nobody talks about cloth anymore. Everything is about branding, imagery, price architecture, customer profiling ..blah (suppose I'd better include design and style in there as that's my profession).

When you buy an item of clothing is your first thought about how the fabric is constructed or woven? Probably not. Style, Fit, Colour, yes and of course the name of the brand that you are interested in. I recently thought about which articles of clothing in my wardrobe have been my favorites for a long time.  A pair of moIeskin trousers from Cordings of Piccadilly, a Brioni shirt and a 7 ply cashmere sweater that I picked up in Mongolia. What they have in common is not only that they were expensive, but they are all using fantastic raw materials. It's also a point worth making that when clothing companies (brands) use the best raw materials, they shout about it. Expensive 'anything' for the most part, is made from a superior grade of raw material that will last longer and/or feel better...and usually look better. i.e the difference between a £100 suit and a £1,000 suit is visible from 100 yards (should I be saying metres?)

 

I would venture to suggest that your favourite items of clothing are also the ones you paid the most money for. To illustrate the point I would borrow an example from the culinary world of fine dining. Have you ever experienced eating in an expensive restaurant and feeling noticeably full after less food?  Or by contrast, eating a Big Mac and feeling hungry after an hour?. Perhaps an odd parallel to draw,  but the point is quality of raw material, it really makes a difference.

When you spend a lot of money on something, is that brand enthusiastic about where they source their fabric from? Ok, if you don't care whether your purchase is still around two years from now, there is nothing wrong with buying something that you just like on the spur of the moment but I am not in that business. Every year in our industry, there are several fabric exhibitions across the globe and most noticeably twice a year in Paris. I've been attending it for 25 years. There are actually two exhibitions there. One is for European fabric mills and one for the Far East fabric mills. Whilst there are many very good mills in the Far East, you go to their exhibition on price.  You go to the one called Premier Vision on quality. At this show it is fantastic to witness how the sales people will enthuse about how their fabric is made and finished and the type of raw material that they are using to weave it.  I must sound like a real bore but it is fascinating to me. I'm what you might call an 'Anorak Tweedspotter'.  The other show is such a contrast and all about the dollar. Cut throat and nobody really talks about how a fabric is made (usually because they are all on their iphones playing games). 

The best fabric like the best food, however obvious or subliminal, gives a deeper sense of satisfaction. Go into any high quality vintage clothing store and it's easy to understand the point I'm making.




Gary Newbold
Gary Newbold

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2 Responses

joyce jennings
joyce jennings

March 16, 2017

An anecdotal confirmation of your post: I was at horse show last summer and found myself, (somewhat to my embarrassment) utterly transfixed by not a horse, not the performance….but the fabric of a riding jacket! At more than 100 m, this jacket glowed with colour, depth, heft, oh, an amalgam of things, but its quality was its beauty. Or possibly its beauty was its quality made visible. It is a circular sort of observation. I knew the rider to be from my own province, so I was bold enough to just simply ask her about her jacket. The answer was it had belonged to her grandmother. Said grandmother was a countess so it must be conceded that it was likely the best had been purchased two generations ago. But the interesting thing is, I had never seen anything to match that fabric- that cut, that tailoring, and that it stood out so gloriously on a rainy day in Canada at a horse show (when tailoring and fabric was not exactly top of mind)! It was a glowing soft velvety blue.
ps a pox on that noxious word brand! It stands for dishonesty, devaluation these days. Maker, marque, anything but brand which only connotes marketing.

Derek Baron
Derek Baron

November 30, 2016

Well said! I never noticed it until I tool to shopping at vintage and second hand stores. The prices were low (which is what I needed since I was losing weight and didn’t have money to shop at high-end stores) so I set about comparing things, the feel, the fit and the look, but mostly the feel. Quality fabric has a feel to it that “makes sense” it feels substantial, like it would last through more than a few washings (and this all the more impressive as these garments had already had one “life”)
It was after this realization that I began making much more careful choices at those stores, and have not been disappointed. The same care was now easy to apply to choices from high street stores as well, and I was truly surprised while wandering through the mens clothing departments at several well known retailers how light, cheap and insubstantial the offerings felt. Needless to say it has been an eye-opening experience!

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