Caveat Emptor: A Treatise on Buying Custom or Bespoke Clothing

For those of you who don’t know him, Alexander Kabbaz is very possibly the finest shirtmaker in the world (and his selection of hosiery is marvelous. Yes, I’m an infrequent but dedicated customer.) You’ve seen his work if you’ve ever seen a picture of author (and Richmond native) Tom Wolfe. Or Leonard Berstein at work. Or Dan Rather behind a news desk. Or…. well, you get the idea. He is also exceedingly well-versed in matters sartorial as befits a haberdasher.

Recently Mr. Kabbaz has been writing a series of articles that have to do with quality clothing — making it, identifying it and buying it. They are available by email subscription to his newsletter “Sartorial Excellence News.” Mr. Kabbaz is obssessive, compulsive about quality manufacturing and phenomenal customer service — I mean that in the best possible way. He has graciously given Easy and Elegant Life permission to link to the full series of articles for your edification and enjoyment. The first article “Caveat Emptor: A Treatise on Custom-Made Clothing” can be found here.

There is much to be learned and sometimes it is a bit hard to hear. But stick with it, and you will be rewarded. Mr. Kabbaz is very opinionated because he is very, very good at what he does. If I had the wherewithal, he would be making both my shirts and Mrs. E.’s.

This should give you an idea of what you can expect from Mr. Kabbaz and certainly what you should demand of those making your clothing.

“Manifestation of the Second Philosophy:

Attire speaks before you utter a single word. Your appearance is the window through which your (sic) are first viewed. The most important result of our initial consultation lies not in the extensive series of measures we place in your file, but in what we garner about your personality, your profession, your taste, and your station in life. Important is not that particular fabric which offers us the greatest profit. Important is the suitability of your wardrobe. This can be considered only if we gain a comprehensive understanding of who you are. Important lies not only in our complimenting your wiser selections and in offering you others from which to choose, but also in having the temerity to suggest that something you might want would be entirely inappropriate for you.

In short, the image you should portray is the responsibility we wish to accept.”


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