A Guide to Help Select a Quality Suit
What is your criteria for selecting a suit? Since the suit is an important part of a man's wardrobe, along with how well the suit fits, quality should be at the top of your suit "must haves".
What are the factors that distinguish an $800 suit or sport coat from one that is $1500?
I have put together a guide to help determine how "quality" is derived at, with the idea in mind that the cost factors that will influence selling price can be broken down into these categories:
1- Branding and Marketing
These two factors can significantly impact the selling price of the garment, but does not change the product itself. Just because the garment has a specific label or is featured in a specific magazine, doesn't mean it is a quality garment and is worth more money. So, for the purpose of this discussion, we should focus on the other 2 factors.
Poor workmanship may be visible to the naked eye, but with good workmanship, the amount of handwork, the time it took to make and the quality of that work may require an expert to determine.
For example: To make a suit entirely by hand is extremely time consuming and expensive, but only some aspects of that handwork will provide benefits as related to comfort, shape retention and appearance.
One yardstick that has gained prominence as a measure of the quality of a suit is canvas vs. fused front...the canvas front suggesting a higher quality garment.
The look and fit are visible and easy to discern, but they are more a function of the design of the garment, the pattern, and in the case of made-to-measure suits, good measurements rather than the amount of handwork or cost.
The only characteristic of the fabric that influences the price of the garment is the price of the fabric, not the quality. Fabric price should be influenced by characteristics such as:
- Unique Design
Nevertheless, however the fabric price is arrived at, it is only that resulting price that influences the price of the garment.
It's worthy of note that the perception of "quality" can be different in different markets.
- In the U.S., most consumers seem to like lightweight, fine looking, luxurious feeling fabric with a high "Super Number" (Super 100's, Super 120's, Super 150's)
- In countries like England, Italy and Germany, they prefer heavier, more tailorable, more durable fabrics with a more "authentic" British or European look and feel.
My opinion is that for consumers who require a "better" suit, whether that means better fabric, more handwork, different design features or a greater fabric selection, the price/value relationship becomes harder to quantify.
Think of the comparison between a Honda Accord and the top of the line Mercedes. While it is hard to justify the difference in price on the basis of value, even if the Mercedes customer has become more value-conscious of late due to the financial crisis, he will probably not trade down to the Honda, preferring to look for better value in a luxury car or delay his purchase altogether.
The "better" suit customer will probably behave the same way. The "better" customer is different from the "opening price-point" customer for both products.
Finally, to further demonstrate the difficulty of calculating the price/value relationship as you move up the luxury chain, I'll use one more analogy:
Think about Rolls Royce. This represents not only the height of luxury and prestige, but the car includes a lot of handwork done by master craftsmen. You might equate this to the true, totally handmade "bespoke" suit that usually starts about $5000 and can go up to $10,000 or more, depending on the fabric. In both cases it's difficult to see the handwork, but something tells me that this customer is satisfied just to be told that it's there.
In other words, value is in the eye of the beholder.
I have been a men's clothier and fashion consultant for over two decades, and I enjoy creating tailored, fashionable, and professional looks for my clients. I can help you create the quality look you've been looking for.