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Posted by Gary Newbold on 30th Nov 2017


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.