Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Men of the Cloth

This has been some time in the making but it's in the final push to finish it. The film maker has made an appeal for donations to help her finish. If you liked the trailer and want to see the rest of it completed, you can go here to make a donation. I did.

MEN OF THE CLOTH IndieGoGo Video from Vicki Vasilopoulos on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


The internet has a way of expanding the English language and ever since discovering the tailored clothing forums I have also encountered a term that I had never heard used outside of the internet, and that was "quarters". As in, a way of describing the shape of the front of the coat. Whereas in tailoring circles, or the ones I have always frequented, anyway, have generally referred to a "straight front" or a "cutaway front", the internet usage has people referring to "open quarters" and "closed quarters". Which sounds more like an architectural term to me, but whatever. I never understood where the term might have originated, suspecting one of the forum stars may have coined it and it become an iTailor meme.

Well, I think I know where it comes from now.


An illustration from the book I referenced in my last post, showing the "forequarter" of the coat, something more commonly called the forepart, particularly since coats have generally been cut in six pieces since the 1930s, not four. So while it is not completely without precedent to refer to the "quarters" of a coat, it's something you might more readily find at "ye olde taylor shoppe". But then, the iGentry seem to fond of anachronisms, and so it is perhaps appropriate.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Men's Factory-Made Clothing

A few book reviews to do.


The first will appeal only to the super-geeks like myself. Published in 1916, The Men's Factory-Made Clothing Industry is a report on the cost of producing men's clothing produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and can be found on Google Books.

Buried within a lot of dry financial statistics is an interesting history of ready-to-wear clothing in the U.S., as well as some very interesting descriptions of the manufacturing process, some of the machines already in use at that time, and some startling passages such as the following:

"The imports of clothing into the United States are almost negligible and are generally English overcoats, novelty garments like the Balmacaan, and golfing and motoring clothes. No sack suits are imported.


English ready-made clothing is not comparable with the American. The English hand tailoring is poor, except in the finest custom work. Very conservative styles of men's clothing are worn in England; the models do not change from one season to another as they do in this country. High-salaried designers [ahem] are employed by the larger clothing factories in the United States, who are constantly introducing attractive styles.


American people believe not only that the styles of clothing for men that are originated in the United States are superior to those that come from other countries, but also that the workmanship of the domestic product is superior to the workmanship on ready-made clothing produced in foreign countries. This belief accounts, in a measure, for the tremendous increase in the production of factory-made clothing in the United States during the last 20 years.

While the manufacture of ready-made clothing is one of the large industries in the United States, this industry is of comparatively small importance in other countries. The completeness of the factory equipment, the thoroughness of the factory organization, and the efficiency of the working force, which are noticeable in many establishments for making men's clothing in this country, are not even approached in other countries. Nearly all the ready-made clothing manufactured in Europe is of low-grade, cheap varieties, and is almost invariably manufactured in small factories, in shops, or in the homes of the workers."


I knew that the method of manufacturing by breaking down the process into minute operations had originated in the U.S. and had been exported to Europe, but was a bit startled by the assertions about the level of quality, mainly because the reverse is often true today. In retrospect, however, it makes perfect sense. But taking it into a larger context, we can trace the progression of the source of quality goods from the U.S., then to Italy who has held the crown since Brioni started to push the "Made in Italy" brand back in the fifties, and now it's moving to China. Many people still associate Chinese-made product with inferior quality, just as Japanese electronics were once considered junk, but those of us who have actually visited facilities in China know that they are not far off from the potential of eclipsing Italy in terms of production of quality garments.

I hope I'm still around in 50 years so I can witness for myself how the manufacturing landscape will have evolved.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

America's Mad As Hell Moment

mad as hell 2

Nothing to do with clothing for once.

MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan recently went on an emotional rant worthy of Keith Olberman and the avalanche of response prompted a follow-up in which he expresses the collective rage of the American people toward Washington and the economy. He encourages the people to take to Twitter and Facebook and the blogosphere to express the fact that we are Mad as Hell and that we demand change.

While I agree with the idea that social networking-driven grassroots movements are a new and interesting force in politics and society, I am, personally, a little tired of all the anger and instead offer a bit of constructive musing.

I am currently contemplating the purchase of a home (and am lucky enough to be able to get the credit to do it) but the state of the economy gives me pause; while I am hesitating I realize that it is this very lack of confidence that is one of the greatest threats to the current state of affairs. I am no economist so I may be way off base on this, but it seems to me that in a consumer-driven economy (I believe that the U.S. is 70% consumer-driven), if people aren’t spending money then business aren’t selling things and thus do not need to employ people in order to create and sell these things. My hesitation is perpetuating our economic problems. Of course, I think it is a very good thing that people are scaling back on extravagant spending and living within their means rather than within the means of their Mastercards, but I also think that it is very obvious that we can’t wait around for the turkeys in Washington to fix this mess- they won’t- and that we the people can do something simply by having a bit of nerve, and instead of hiding all of our cash under the mattress, that we responsibly spread some of it around (leave the credit card at home, please). That is, after what drives the economy and the jobs machine and maybe we can fix the economy ourselves, or at least give it a hearty push.

So it may be a stretch to suggest that buying a home despite worries about the stock market, or even just a buying pair of shoes can be seen as an act of patriotism, but in my perhaps twisted world view, that is exactly what it is at this moment in time.

So excuse me while I call my realtor, and then we can get back to the subject of clothing.

EDIT- The very day I wrote this post I got an email from my realtor- the place I am interested in has been on the market forever but that very day they got an offer on it and if I am interested I need to move NOW. So I am looking at a potential bidding war. The irony.