Sunday, October 25, 2009

A tale of two cloth merchants

Fun thing about blogging- I get to rant every once in a while. Well, rant and praise.

I have been flirting with English cloth for a little while, with some interesting results. Since I don't buy significant quantities of it (I buy Italian usually) I am going through an agent who represents a number of English mills. I bought a piece of flannel from his own stock- a charcoal flannel from J & J Minnis; Minnis is one of the stable of mills, including John Hardy, which come under the umbrella of Huddersfield Fine Worsteds, and has a very good reputation, as well as a few royal warrants. The suit made up nicely and I should really get around to posting some photos. Before cutting I asked Andrew (the agent) about sponging and he asked the mill; the mill had previously given a rather snarky answer to another person on the same subject but I let that one go. However the mill never did answer me.

Encouraged by the results of the suit (but not the service), I found another lovely swatch from John Hardy (HFW again) and placed an order. Temporarily out of stock. Well, these things happen. Since this is a winter-only swatch, I asked when they though the cloth might be back in stock- if it were only to come available in January or February, I would pick something else. A week went by with no response from the mill. I would have liked a simple- we are a little busy moving or getting our nails done or whatever and we will answer you shortly, but nothing.

So I picked another swatch from another English mill, Harrisons of Edinburgh. The navy suit with the pink stripe and the pagoda shoulder is Harrisons cloth. A Sunday afternoon I picked the swatch, with a few trouser lengths as well, and put an email in to Andrew. Monday I had a response that one of the numbers was out of stock so I gave them instructions on what to do. This would have been Monday afternoon in the UK. An hour later I had a tracking number but they could have just taken the number off a shipping label so I didn't think much of it. But no, Wednesday I got a parcel with my cloth (I remind readers that I am in Canada). Within an hour of receiving instructions my parcel was shipped, and HFW still hasn't answered any of my questions.

I have to say that the Minnis flannel makes up better than the Harrisons flannel. So next time I am in the market for some flannel will I buy Minnis or Hardy? NO WAY. It's Harrisons for me. I would even pay a premium for it, just for the service.

Sadly, Andrew is stopping his business soon so if you are interested in some nice, sturdy English cloth, I STRONGLY recommend you look through his stuff. And buy Harrisons, not HFW.

Rant over.

Soon the next suit will be finished and I will get some photos of both of them up. Doing a last fitting on the Harrisons flannel and I don't have good mirrors at home so I resort to taking photos from different angles- I wasn't able to spot the pulling at the waist until I took a photo. I'll fix that before finishing completely.

Har flannel back


afriendintweed said...

I am that 'other person' who got a snarky reply from the mill about sponging linen, and I perfectly understand (and support) your position.

There is no excuse for poor service. I wish there was a 'higher up' within the mill we could air our grievances to.

R. Jeffery Diduch said...

Indeed. However, there is a saying in Italian- the fish rots from the head. Dedication to customer service is a corporate culture that either exists or it doesn't; I am inclined to believe that we would have just as frosty a reception from higher-ups, and I refuse to reward bad service with patronage, particularly when their competition is so stellar in theirs.

Jordan Marc said...

The pulling at the waist aside, which should be fairly easy for an artisan of your calibre to fix, this is shaping up to be a truly beautiful suit. Your attention to matching the stripes is topnotch, not least the spacing and joining of the chalk stripes at the center of the back toward the waist and bottom. I'm anxious to see more pictures. If the
front of the coat is as good as the back, Savile Row
has nothing on you.


R. Jeffery Diduch said...

Jordan you are far too kind! But careful- that kind of blasphemy will get you banned from the London Lounge! Now if I could only find some buttons......

joel dewberry fabric said...

Thanks for sharing this. Anyway, that's a nice coat. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Recently I took advantage of Scabal's summer sale in Poland. I was assured my order (2 x 4.5 metres of two different materials) would be delivered in 72 hours. Impressive, I thought. Eventually, after a dozen or so reminders, I received my wool after more than six weeks. The price was great, perhaps 30% of the regular rate, but the way Scabal (mis)managed the delivery process was a nightmare.

Luke Chen said...

Greetings from Singapore! I like your blog!

I am surprised at the frosty reception that you got from HFW. My experience with them was very positive. They answered all my emails very promptly. I asked to pick up my order from their London office, and they happily obliged. They even gave me a not insignificant discount even though I had only ordered 3.2 metres of fabric from them.

On the contrary, I have submitted questions to Harrisons of Edinburgh via their website but did not receive any replies. It is a pity that I left London without having purchased any fabric from Harrisons. But that hasn't extinguished my hankering for their fabric!

Batley said...

For goodness sake don't let Harrisons of Edinburgh (Capital of Scotland) hear that you've described them as an 'English Mill' or you're likely to get a less than polite response from them in future too!

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