Differences in the quality and value of mens clothing really depends on a wide range of different factors in manufacturing, cuts, fabric, durability, and the service at the time of purchase and after.
While Beltrami has the highest standards in all of these categories we believe that an educated consumer and understanding why we are unique in the mens clothing industry, is very important to share with both our current and future clients.
How clothing is patterned is truly a very important factor that not only is a consideration in the ultimate cost of mens clothing but also pre-determines how a garment will fit. If the clothing is made to fit a large number of men, then the cost will be much lower as the audience for the items will be much broader and generally will not have the custom fit of custom tailored items. No matter who they design the items for, they never fit your body as well as a custom tailored item and that all starts with the cut. For instance if the cut is made to fit a very thin man, it’ll be priced higher as it targets a smaller audience but one that is willing to a pay a premium for a “better fit” and styles that suit them. However even so there are areas where the items will be to tight and others that will be too loose. A great example of this is a suit where the shoulders swim in the suit making it look baggy or where oversized padding is used in the shoulders giving the this man a more pronounced “V” even while not really conforming to the individuals body.
Most “Off-the-rack” clothing is almost always machine made in automated factories and in gigantic “batches” where quality control is simply impossible .While machines are good at many things, quality control on machine stitching versus hand stitching simply is incomparable. These off the rack large department store and “mall” shop items tend to be cut loose to fit on as many men in the given size range as possible. So while the cost is lower the patterns fit hundreds of mis-matched shapes, it’s important to emphasize that they fit all of them very poorly. Almost every lower end mens store and every “mall and department store” item simply caters to the masses, so the garments may initially seem to be inexpensive.
When you add to that the cost of custom tailoring, which is almost always a substantial investment after the initial purchase, the true value and total cost of ownership is substantially higher. Most off the rack mass produced items are going to need adjusting in multiple places before it fits your body somewhat attractively and master tailors are very rare even if you believe your dry cleaner is a nice choice, they are typically low paid garment workers who ventured out on their own, not master craftsmen who specifically were trained on tailoring mens clothing, just the opposite, mass producing low quality items in a factory setting. Unfortunately, no matter what even a more experienced tailor tries on these off the rack items, the cheap nature of the original manufacturing often makes adjusting them impossible. There is typically very little extra fabric to open seams or a poor fabric was used that leaves marks where the seam formerly was.
Designer and specialty clothing does a better job making their off-the-rack clothing from a less forgiving pattern which means the buyer must somewhat fit the pattern to begin with. As any large man who has tried to wear Italian suits can tell you, you either fit into a tailored suit or you don’t. This is true for taller and shorter men as well as you can simply not mass produce any item and expect it to fit different body sizes and shapes, even with tailoring. The lack of material to work with and seems that were there prior like the less expensive off the rack clothing are still an issue for even the most experienced of tailors. These garments are more targeted in their demographic, and as such have a higher price because it is expected that the customer will pay more for a premium fit. Typically men who are more conscious of fashion are also more conscious of their bodies so this makes sense.
The ultimate in cuts and patters are private collections and cuts are the higher end cuts where suits are built from scratch specifically to fit your exact body shapes and measurements. At Beltrami we have our own brands and we maintain stock from our own materials and cuts that are more readily and easily tailored for every body shape. We do not work from “one cut” but from our own stock which is developed for specific body shapes and from thirty plus years of master tailoring and custom made materials and clothing patterns that are made specifically for you. These type of cuts and hand made items are much more expensive and the items are made with great care so we have the material and the seems will not show after the tailoring is completed. Carrying these base cuts is the more expensive option and building your suit, shirt, even your ties from scratch rather than from a general template, allows customization at every step of the fitting process even after years of use and multiple after market adjustments as your body changes over time (weather you lose or gain weight or both).
Occasionally a client of ours will ask about custom made jeans, sport shirts, and sweaters. We always share that while there is an extra cost associated with custom items, it is worth it. Off the rack manufactures make such a limited range of these products it usually forces a man to limit his choices to just one brand or size that has a limited number of style options and ultimately makes an individual look like others often finding people who are wearing the same exact shirt, suit, or tie even at small gatherings. This is where men lose their sense of fashion expression and just look like everyone else. At Beltrami we have unique fabrics and everything we create is different and while our clients have a unique “look” and sense of style they will never look like they are part of the cookie cutter masses. So one of Beltrami’s major distinguishing factors are our large variety of sizes and cuts as a strong foundation to start our custom tailoring from.
Another major differentiator in off the rack clothing and Beltrami’s clothing are the materials used in the process of creating that unique look we create for all of our clients. Prices range from a few cents a yard to hundreds of dollars per yard in manufacturing mens clothing. A dress shirt normally takes a single 1 yard, trousers from 1 1/2 to 2, with a suit on average demanding 3.5 yards or more. Clothing made in large batches can save fabric and most often utilizes a higher percentage of the raw fabric, but leaves room for issues with cut sizes as mentioned above. Fabric price is most often determined by the quantity of that fabric being used initially so by creating a style that is a carbon copy of what others are wearing in the off-the-rack options lends itself to mass producing with a limited number of fabrics.
While fabric price is also determined by the fiber type, fiber quality, and the fabric weave, mass produced items almost always is based on the cheapest possible alternatives even those used in far inferior brand names. Synthetics are usually the least expensive fabrics to produce, with polyester and rayon being two common examples.These fabrics are often woven into or merged to reduce the cost of manufacturing in off the shelf items. Cotton fabrics are next in the price scale; a natural fiber, cotton is grown in large quantities around the world although in various degrees of fiber shape and length. Usually the longer the fiber the more desirable it is for higher end menswear. Fibers are also judged on the maturity of their shape, their cleanliness, and even the country of origin. So while consumers think that an item that is one hundred percent cotton means that it is a desirable fabric just do not realize that is not what determines the real quality of a cotton based fabric, the quality of cotton is what is the determining overall factors. Beltrami only uses the finest materials available anywhere and that is a major factor in why our clients make fashion acquisitions that last a lifetime.
The most expensive fabrics are generally made from wools, that are fibers made from a range of animal hairs. The most common wool fibers are those collected from Australian sheep, but more exotic wool fabrics are made with blends from goat and rabbit hair as well and just like cotton there are different qualities and overall factors that determine the look, feel, and durability of the wool itself. At Beltrami we are often told that our garments feel so comfortable that they have never felt anything like it before in clothing, and that is because they haven’t. Most men’s suits are wool, but wool comes in a very broad range of styles and qualities. Synthetic materials can create a cheaper suit, but lose the drape, luster, and durability of wool, creating an artificial-looking outfit that shines under direct light and wears badly, just like the lower end wools used in almost every off the rack suit. Beltrami wools come from reputable, established mills and use only virgin wool, or wool sheared and spun from the sheep. Cheaper wools repurpose old fibers, creating a coarser and less durable textile. Silk is another expensive fabric, it’s price being reflective of it’s manufacturing difficulty, handling issues, and controls on output but just like our wool suits and sweaters our silk materials are the finest quality found anywhere.
The skill and methods used when clothing is assembled or constructed impacts the overall cost of manufacturing and ultimate ownership as well. Construction by machine is cheaper and quicker, bringing the price down, while hand-sewing takes time and skill making Beltrami clothing more expensive ,based on simple math. The higher the skill level and the stitches and methods, the more expensive the base costs. The advantages of tailored initial construction as opposed to machined, is precision and durability. Mistakes made by machines are rarely caught by quality control and often sold with or without imperfections especially at the large outlet stores where items can even be labeled as imperfect only after the majority of those items were sold; it is highly unlikely if ever that our master tailor will sell a finished garment with any errors or flaws in the construction what so ever. At Beltrami we inspect every item and every stitch of every item we sell on initial acquisition and every time our clients return to our showroom.
Another important consideration is the actual purchasing experience and the willingness of the clothing merchant to protect the buyer from known workmanship issues. As far as returns go, this is a major advantage of large retailers especially in the United States where they have very generous return policies when you keep the receipt and even when you don’t. As far as returns go, this is a major advantage of large retailers especially in the United States where they have very generous return policies when you keep the receipt and even when you don’t. But time is money and most department stores while having a great deal of flexibility of returns, when you take the time factor into consideration it does add to the cost of the items purchased and your own productivity as well. Smaller clothing merchants don’t normally have the infrastructure to support this type of service; what they do have though is an owner with an excellent memory who’ll not only remember you but also be willing to work to resolve your issues amicably but typically not of there are signs of wear on an item or after thirty days. At Beltrami our clothing is always under our life time warrantee for as long as you own it. If you lose a button or even have a small tare our team will happily repair it for free. So when it comes to service and after market support you will never wait hours on line, or be looking for a store manager, or paying for a “Dry cleaner” quality tailor to repair any of our items when needed, if needed, and adding that to the over all cost of ownership, we are here to assist for life and you walk in, and walk out in less than a few minutes in most cases.
Many consumers think that just because a manufacturer who spends billions of dollars on brand and image management are the finest options, that is not ever the case. If you are after a designer label that is hot, you are going to pay the retail and the premium prices associated with that brand primarily because of the advertising and marketing costs to sell them to the masses not because they are the finest quality brands available in boutique “old school” shops like Beltrami as we do not have to factor billions of dollars of advertising costs into our brand, we are growing simply by word of mouth even when you do see us supporting some local magazines. When making an investment in your image be especially careful of outlet stores; clothing brands are now making product lines far under any desirable quality, even at the lowest quality possible, specifically for them. Despite the fact you believe you are investing in a major brand for less, you are getting an inferior product completely, as many mass produced brands are now into the bait and switch tactic’s to show their shareholders more profits, not the consumer. Thus, what you will ultimately determine is the outlet store is not excess from a high-end retailer, but rather a lower quality product made for the outlet. The “retail price it is marked down from” was never an actual price, rather an illusion of value created by the company’s marketing “scheme team”.
The key to finding the greatest value with mens clothing is being able to understand what real quality is. Our stylists are our owners and we have developed a reputation over thirty years of being able to buy only the highest quality patterns, materials, hand made manufacturing, quality control and knowing the owners of those smaller boutique suppliers and designers personally for decades in some cases. For many a mass produced brand name is the only way they know how to make a mens fashion purchase. For the educated consumer the man looking for true service and value, you have to understand fabric, fit, style, and construction as we have explained why Beltrami has the lowest cost of overall ownership despite what might initially appear as a higher price.
While a higher price tag doesn’t automatically mean better clothing, as we have seen many other mens shops bait and switch consumers as well, Beltrami’s reputation in the industry is unmatched and our clients know that we only carry the finest quality clothing and the most talented and experienced tailor of any tailor (who has been with us for decades and maintains a personal relationship with every client).
But cheap clothing that is poorly made is just that — cheap. Menswear that you have to replace every season is never a “good deal”. While styles change and most mass produced brands are made to be obsolete seasonally, Beltrami styles are timeless and made to last a lifetime. Beltrami brands and custom expedient service provides our men with the most economical value and a unique individual image. An image that is as recognizable and individual as you are.