Evaluating the construction of bespoke garments: Hand vs. machine work
There are a number of online forums catering to members with an interest in bespoke garments.
Over the years, I’ve followed many threads (questions, answers and comments) relating to the construction of bespoke garments. While some of these threads were both interesting and educational, I’d invariably come away a little confused by the discussion.
When the threads involved a comparison between the work of different tailors, my confusion was magnified.
Something was missing: a mental construct that I could apply to the discussion to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Then I read a blog post by Derek Guy on www.dieworkwear.com entitled “What’s the point of hand work?”.
In this blog post, I identify the reason for my confusion: Unless the hand work and the machine work is specifically identified and labelled, it’s almost impossible to follow a thread discussion and make qualitative assessments between the work of different tailors.
The Hanger Project’s video review of RAVE FabriCARE’s bespoke garment cleaning service
It’s quite common for dry cleaners to tell you all about the “quality” of their cleaning. This applies across the board to all cleaners, even value (discount) cleaners, ordinary (middle market) cleaners and wanabee (illusion) cleaners.
It’s also quite common for customers of dry cleaners to post online reviews and offer testimonials for every category of cleaner.
However, it’s quite rare for a client — particularly a client with both a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the construction of bespoke garments and the experience to assess true quality cleaning — to offer a 10 minute plus video critique of the work delivered by a dry cleaner.
In this post, Kirby Allison, founder of The Hanger Project, offers such a critique.
Although Kirby Allison is a long standing bespoke client of RAVE FabriCARE, neither Kirby nor The Hanger Project are affiliated with RAVE FabriCARE.
Ordinary dry cleaners agonize about setting prices. They wouldn’t have to if they focused on delivering true quality cleaning.
Ordinary cleaners have a unique approach to setting prices. They start by analyzing the prices charged by other cleaners in a 5 to 10 mile radius prices. Then they ignore those comparative prices and set the final price by sucking it out of thin air, modifying it to end in a 1, 3, 7 or 9 and confirming it by gut instinct.
Their prices are, in effect, the highest prices they think they can charge relative to the competition and relative to the “quality” of the product they deliver.
Then they spend months agonizing whether their prices are set at the appropriate level.
In this post, I hypothesize that the primary reason customers patronize ordinary dry cleaners is because of price, not quality of product. I also argue that customers who focus solely on price are customers that are not worth pursuing under any circumstances.
On the other hand, if ordinary dry cleaners dramatically improved the quality of the product they offered, their clients would drool over the quality of their work and they wouldn’t have to spend years agonizing whether their prices are set at the appropriate level.
Ordinary dry cleaning means average care for average consumers by average people
Almost every new entrant into the dry cleaning industry talks about delivering “quality” to their customers.
These new entrants believe that the “right” location, the “right” equipment, the “right” eco-friendly dry cleaning solvent, the “right” computer system, the “right” app and the “right” amount of effort will miraculously produce “quality” and, as a consequence, financial success.
They soon realize, however, that the overwhelming majority of their customers just want their garments “cleaned and pressed” for the lowest possible price and in the fastest time — two major impediments to delivering true quality cleaning.
In this post, I discuss why building a sustainable business that delivers true quality cleaning is so difficult to achieve and why these new entrants into the dry cleaning industry quickly shift their goal from “quality of product” to “growth in piece count” as a way to generate the cash necessary to keep the doors open.
Why would you allow your dry cleaner to destroy your buttons and other hardware?
You’ve invested in your fine garments.
Amongst other things, you believe that your buttons, logos, zipper pulls, buckles and the like are integral to the look of your garments.
In this blog post, I examine the need for your dry cleaner to protect your buttons and other hardware — even if that means removing your buttons and other hardware prior to cleaning and replacing your buttons and other hardware after cleaning.
Yes, I do understand that your dry cleaner told you that they “protect” your buttons and other hardware.
But do they?
If that were the case, why are some of the buttons and other hardware (logos, zipper pulls, buckles, etc.) on your fine garments scratched, chipped, cracked or otherwise damaged?
And, if that’s the case, why do you permit your dry cleaner to get away with damaging the buttons and other hardware on your fine garments?
What’s the safest (and best) way to clean my fine silk and wool ties?
An advise column that appeared in a recent issue of Esquire Magazine theorized that the “best” way to clean your fine ties was to:
(a) blot — not rub — the stain(s) with a napkin or paper towel,
(b) pre-treat the stains with specific product(s) and
(c) hand wash the tie with other specific product(s).
I agree with (a). I vehemently disagree with (b) and (c).
What’s the basis for my disagreement? I see the results of DIY tie cleaning disasters from all around the USA and Canada on an almost daily basis. Extrapolate that over a period of almost 30 years and that represents thousands of potentially ruined ties.
In this post, I argue that, when it comes to cleaning your fine ties, the first rule is to ignore substantially all internet-based advise.
Most of that advise is not based on experience — the actual cleaning and restoration of thousands of ties. Rather, the advise appears to be contrived: grab a few ties, stain the ties with various substances, apply specific “stain removal” products to be promoted (the true objective of the article) and write a “how to” article on the outstanding results achieved.
The second rule is to consult a true quality cleaner who specializes in the cleaning and restoration of fine ties.
In the dry cleaning business, average is just another word for mediocre
In June 2017, dry cleaners from all around the USA, Canada and beyond will descend on the Las Vegas for the Clean Show, a biennial trade exposition showcasing the latest in equipment, technologies and services.
They’ll all be searching for the holy grail: how to push more and more pieces of fabric (aka your fine garments and household textiles) faster and faster through their production facility using a mix of low skilled labor and highly automated equipment.
The problem for all these dry cleaners is that they’ll continue to face that same recurring dilemma — year in, year out — no matter how many Clean Shows they attend and no matter how many labor saving machines they buy.
In this post, I posit that success in the dry cleaning business isn’t a function of the number of trade shows they attend or the number of labor saving machines they install.
The answer is to say no to being average. That the answer is to stand for something instead of standing for nothing.
Cleaning fine bed and table linens in the metro Phoenix area and beyond
Luxurious, distinctive European and American bed and table linens – antique, vintage, or modern – are costly and can be easily ruined if mishandled in the cleaning process.
Fact is, these linens demand a level of care that shouldn’t involve merely tossing them into a washer with hot water, caustic detergents and bleaches, tumbling in a dryer and folding.
This blog post is not a “how to” guide for washing, drying and folding your fine bed and table linens. The internet is awash in such guides.
Rather, this blog post is intended to address various issues faced by the owners of fine bed and table linens for whom home laundry results rarely meet expectations.
This blog post also introduces readers to the processes that should be followed by specialized french laundries who clean and restore fine bed and table linens.
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