derek guy Profile picture
Aug 25 17 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter

Whenever I post a link to a suit or sport coat, many people respond in shock bc of the price. Let's break down why tailored clothing costs so much money. 🧵 Image
For this, I'm going to assume that the suit was made in the United States, largely because I'm relying on information given to me by a friend who works at a high level in the US suit manufacturing industry. These are simplified numbers but are generally reflective of reality.
The first thing to understand is that suits and sport coats are not made like casualwear. They are built up from many layers of haircloth, canvassing, and padding, which are carefully sewn together using either specialized machines or human hands (needle and thread) Image
Let's break down the cost of making a suit.

A garment worker at a US suit factory makes about $15/hr. The total number of minutes spent on making that suit (in terms of actual operations) will be about 260 mins. Image
The factory also has to pay for worker benefits, which, spread across the total production, adds about $23 per suit. And then there's the cost of overhead (e.g., warehousing, administration, etc.). That adds an additional $26 per suit.

So now we have spent $114.
There is also the cost of materials. A factory may spend about $30/meter for fabric. They need 3.5 meters to make a suit, which brings the price per suit to $105. Now add $30 worth of trims (haircloth, padding, canvas, buttons, and such).

So now we have a total cost of $249. Image
$249 is how much it costs the factory to make a suit. To make a profit, they do a gross margin markup of 40%. That means they sell it to a brand for $415. The brand has to pay for a bunch of other expenses (e.g., marketing, administration, etc). Image
The brand also has to make a profit. So they sell the suit to a store at a gross margin markup of 60%. (This store, too, has its own expenses, such as sales staff, warehousing, marketing, etc.).

Now, we have a retail price of $1,037. Image
The above is a rough sketch of what it would cost to make a fully machine-made, fully canvassed suit in the United States. The price could go up on a host of factors. The factory could spend more on nicer fabric. Or they can include some hand-tailoring details. Image
Alternatively, the price can go down. The suit could be made in China, where the avg garment worker in a suit factory makes just under $4/hr. They could buy cheaper fabric. Or they can do a fully fused or half-canvassed construction, which may be less durable or not hang as well.
One of the ways to cut costs is in the patternmaking stage. Remember, a suit is made from many layers of material. Each of these layers has to be cut according to a pattern, which is a term for the architectural blueprint for the garment.
If a factory is taking the time and care to make a good suit, they will draft the pattern a little larger than what they need, then lay those internal pieces—haircloth, canvas, padding—on and carefully stitch. Then, they trim away the excess material—trim, adjust, trim, adjust. Image
However, if they're trying to cut costs, the components of the suit are cut exactly as they're supposed to be, laid on top of each other, and just sewn. There is no trimming or basting, you just sew everything together and hope for the best.
The problem is, cloth moves and linings shift. So things, sometimes, these lower-end garments don't come out quite right. Everyone along the stage is trying to maximize money, so the garment goes out to the sales floor as-is, and you hope a customer doesn't notice.
However, even at the lowest level—garment made in China, cheaper fabrics (but still natural fibers), fully fused or half-canvassed construction, no trimming or adjusting during the manufacturing process, etc.—you are looking at a retail price of about $500.
So, the answer to the original question: Why are suits expensive? They are more complicated to make than casualwear. They often require more expensive fabrics. If they are made in the UK, Italy, or the US, there are wage and labor laws.
There are many ways to look good; you don't have to buy tailored clothing. But tailoring is a beautiful thing, and the price paid goes towards supporting workers who are skilled in a special area of manufacturing. You can also end up with a garment you love and look good in. Image

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More from @dieworkwear

Aug 25
in my time writing about menswear, I've seen so many times where someone tried to save money in process of building a wardrobe but ended up spending more. this includes

1. bought stuff just bc it's on sale
2. bought something cheaper instead of what they actually wanted

3. tried to find the original factory that made something, so they could find a better deal (e.g., white labeling). they assumed everything that comes out of a factory is the same (which is not true)
4. settled for a bad garment bc it was cheap
5. bought from stores that provide very little service. it's often good to shop from stores with skilled sales associates who can help you. and stores that take returns. buying from cheap retailers abroad or online sellers with no return policy is risky.
Read 7 tweets
Aug 18
seems like some people are unaware of how lightweight and breathable a tailored jacket can be. no garment—not even a t-shirt—is going to turn a 90F day into a 60F day. but many people seem to believe that tailored jackets are inherently warm when they are not. 🧵
tailored jackets and trousers can be made from tropical wools, which is a class of wool fabric made with a very open weave. these fabrics are opaque next to the skin, but they wear like a mesh screen. they allow body heat to escape and every breeze to blow through.
you can also remove the lining. there are fully lined jackets (pic 1), half-lined jackets (pic 2), quarter lined jackets (pic 3), and fully unlined jackets (pic 4).

Read 11 tweets
Aug 17

Here's the follow-up to yesterday's thread on how to spot quality men's footwear. This thread is about where to buy such footwear. 🧵
If you know a little something about how shoes are made, and you have some experience with high-quality footwear, you can spot quality shoes in a store. However, for most people, this can be challenging. Quality often reveals itself over time, as bad shoes fall apart.
For instance, a mark of good quality is how the leather ages over time. Good leather develops a patina; bad leather is more prone to cracking, flaking, and just general ugliness. When shoes are ugly, you end up throwing them away after a few years and buying something new.

Read 25 tweets
Aug 16

One of these shoes costs $150. The other costs $1,285.

Can you tell which is which? 🧵
In 2018, the discount shoe retailer Payless bet that most people couldn't. They pulled off an elaborate prank, where they started a luxury shoe brand called Palessi (designed by a made-up Italian designer named Bruno Palessi). Image
Then they set up a store in an upscale mall, stocked the shelves with regular Payless shoes, and invited fashion influencers for a launch party. No surprise, the influencers fell for it, some buying $35 shoes for $645, swooning about the quality of this fake luxury brand.
Read 25 tweets
Aug 15
wealthy men in the past wore dressing gowns or robes at home, often with a belt tied around the waist, sometimes decorated with a little tassel at the end. made from wool or silk, these would be worn before getting dressed for the day. would be paired with thin-soled slippers

there were also robes for laying by the pool or going to the beach.

a few years ago, i had a robe made by one of my tailors using a run of Adamley silk. i wanted hand-knotted tassels at the end of the belt (most tassels now are machine-made). Budd in London had a small box of handmade tassels left—the last woman to make them had just retired

Read 5 tweets
Aug 13

Will answer this bc 1) the answer may surprise some people and 2) it will also piss some people off 🧵
First, knitwear should always be folded, never hung, bc the garment can stretch out.

Storage tip: During the off-season, store sweaters in rigid Tupperware bins. Slip a cotton sheet or pillowcase over the top, then snap the lid down. This keeps out bugs that eat wool fibers. Image
Second, if you're hanging casualwear (e.g., button-up shirts, casual jackets), then you can use any old hanger. Although I prefer wooden hangers over thin wire ones, such as the ones you get from your dry cleaner. Ikea sells packs of 8 for about $9. Image
Read 17 tweets

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