Mickey Drexler is looking for niche markets. Why not ours?

dpihl

Super Member
An article in the NYTimes describes an incident where Mr.Drexler tackles a woman and asks for her honest opinion of his women's suit offerings at J. Crew. Nice guy. The author of the story calls tailored women's suits a "niche market". shows him offering custom clothing on the J. Crew web site. Custom? Hah!

So he likes niche markets. I have not seen any indication that J. Crew will soon be offering stuff for our market niche. Nobody seems to know that the Trad set exists anymore, outside of our loyal friends at J. Press.

Where are the sack suits at J. Crew--or for that matter, suits with just a little less padding in the shoulder and a little less shaping in the waist? How about a blazer with proper patch pockets? For that matter, why so few lapel choices? Custom clothing should be available in custom, and not just predetermined varieties.

I don't see any club collared shirts. Or piped or club striped blazers for that matter. For a company whose catalog used to feature rowing teams in every photo, it's a bit odd that they don't offer team blazers, or even team-striped hat bands for your boater hat.

J. Crew only seems to offer clothing for men in a very narrow range of sizes (I'm too tall and broad, my son is too short and too skinny). As a tall, portly man, I still have a tiny number of clothing stores to choose from, most of which specialize in velveteen jogging suits and NFL logoed windbreakers.

If you've ever been to a big and tall store (or read their catalogs), you'll know what I mean. One style of dress shirt (poly/cotton broadcloth), one style of belt, and a whole lot of casual knitwear.

I keep hearing about of retailing. And don't get me wrong, great strides are being made in certain sectors of retail: But J. Crew customers will simply have to wait.

We are several steps closer to the dream of publishing-on-demand, given the presence of (for short runs) and Publish America for the publishing of our more mainstream manuscripts.

We can have literally anything printed on a t-shirt, ball cap, mug, mouse pad, or clock, with no minimum order at Cafe Press. The fact that they have the word Press in their name ought to warm the cockles of every Trad heart, but who the heck wears t-shirts around here anyway?

will print and frame on demand . They will also wrap it and drop ship it to anybody with no minimum order.

Joe Tradly found a service that prints custom wrapping paper on demand.

Many of you will recall the fact that Luke Eyres can make you a cricket jumper on demand. Others might recall that Apex will cut you out a custom twill or felt applique for anything from replica baseball shirts to letterman's jackets, to whatever.

American Logo Watch will even print the trademark AAAC clothes hanger on the face of a Citizen watch for you if you like.

...Actually, they'll print anything you like on any watch you like.

They'll even print roman numerals on a white dial (gasp!) if you want a simple, classic wristwatch to wear with your grosgrain straps.

I've always thought that was the best look for grosgrain straps. Only problem is; most removable-strapped, roman numeraled, white dialed, round faced watches come from megabuck Swiss makers (they all make one), have jeweled mechanisms, and you never feel quite right cutting off the leather strap.

It's a great time to be alive if you are an author, a graphic designer, or have a logo to promote. There are even companies you can team up with if you're a songwriter and want to publish sheet music on demand, CDs on demand, or offer MP3 downloads from a web site.

So why in this age of custom, one-off everythings can we not find so many items on our perpetual wish list???

The problem is, everybody assumes we want to change the color, and not the cut of the garment.

Digital textile printing remains an up and coming field, for people who wish to print their designs directly onto fabric. Here are a few important links if that's an area that interests you:


https://www.inkjetfabrics.com/

https://www.electricquilt.com/
https://www.sublimation.com/home/

And yes, House of tartan lets you design your own tartan fabric. It's easy, and it's fun. They'll even register it with the Scottish authorities if you like.

Cool. But what if I want my new tartan made into a post boy vest? Obviously, I'll have to order the tartan fabric by the yard, and get it into the hands of a custom tailor somewhere else.

is giving graphic designers a shot at designing their own bow tie fabric.

Cool. A shot is better than nothing.

Without the Trad forum, some of us might not have known there were so many good sources for family crests on signet rings, and for reverse-engraved signet rings for use as wax seals.

Below are the validated, relevant links from the two above mentioned threads:
https://www.signetring.com/
https://www.signetrings.com/
https://www.customwaxnseals.com/
https://www.heraldica.com/

https://www.letterseals.com/custommadeseal.html

https://www.pennypressmint.com/seals.htm

One link from the above mentioned threads seems to be the only place on earth offering custom engraved blazer buttons and real cuff links.

Why is that such an uncommon thing???

Custom blazer badges
are easily obtained in a world where no American feels comfortable wearing them after graduation from prep school. AB Emblem remains my choice if anybody ever needs a source for custom blazer badges. Their customer service is superb.

also offers custom blazer badges, as well as medals and lapel pins for smallish organizations. Not quite a source for one-offs or drop shipped merchandise, but close enough for the market sector they cater to.

One can get custom pipe banners for ones bag pipes if one wishes to tip one's Glengarry to tradition in this way. But expect to wait several months!

You can get custom varsity jackets made to your specifications.

You can get blazers made in any color you can imagine, and as many buttons as you like down the front.

And don't get me started about custom bow tie options from the usual suspects online.

But none of this custom, 1to1 stuff has any relevance to the CEO of J. Crew who seems intent on making J. Crew into a GAP/ A&F/ American Eagle clone.

Niche market indeed! I sometimes wish the editors at the NY Times would grow up.
 

tripreed

Elite Member
You know, while I appreciate the nature of this thread, and while I did enjoy the article about Mickey Drexler, I suppose I do have 2 cents to throw in. I was thinking about something similar the other day, and I'm pretty convinced that it is quite unlikely that a major apparel retailer, especially one that is pretty "hip" like J. Crew, will ever produce an undarted jacket. I have three reasons:

1. Our niche market is not large enough to generate enough demand for a major company to take interest, in spite of the success that a certain poster over on a certain forum has had in raising the profile of "trad" :rolleyes:
2. I'm not convinced that enough designers at these companies are even aware of the concept of an undarted jacket to make it a design consideration
3. Related to #2, there really doesn't seem to be enough reason to alter manufacturing techniques for something that is not even observed or known about by, say, 90% of suit wearers. Additionally, taking away a feature that supposedly makes customers look "slimmer" does not seem like a wise business move, especially as said customers are ever increasing their need for slimming features.

That being said, I like J. Crew's clothes, and I have been impressed that they have begun selling their 3-button jackets with something that could easily be perceived as a 3-2 roll. Now, if only they would offer them in a wider selection of sizes, or lengths, more specifically...
 

Patrick06790

Connoisseur
You know, while I appreciate the nature of this thread, and while I did enjoy the article about Mickey Drexler, I suppose I do have 2 cents to throw in. I was thinking about something similar the other day, and I'm pretty convinced that it is quite unlikely that a major apparel retailer, especially one that is pretty "hip" like J. Crew, will ever produce an undarted jacket. I have three reasons:

1. Our niche market is not large enough to generate enough demand for a major company to take interest, in spite of the success that a certain poster over on a certain forum has had in raising the profile of "trad" :rolleyes:
2. I'm not convinced that enough designers at these companies are even aware of the concept of an undarted jacket to make it a design consideration
3. Related to #2, there really doesn't seem to be enough reason to alter manufacturing techniques for something that is not even observed or known about by, say, 90% of suit wearers. Additionally, taking away a feature that supposedly makes customers look "slimmer" does not seem like a wise business move, especially as said customers are ever increasing their need for slimming features.

That being said, I like J. Crew's clothes, and I have been impressed that they have begun selling their 3-button jackets with something that could easily be perceived as a 3-2 roll. Now, if only they would offer them in a wider selection of sizes, or lengths, more specifically...

Clemson? Why did I think you went off to Cornell? I thought the lack of posts was because you were frozen a la Nicholson at the end of The Shining.

Anyway, I read that piece too. Trip makes good points. As to #1:

I agree, we're too small. And his next pseudonym should be Froot Loop, or The Man Who Cared Too Much.

2. The only way to make the designers aware of undarted jackets is for somebody like Pitt or Clooney to make a fuss of it.

3. I don't know a blessed thing about manufacturing techniques, but wouldn't the absence of darts mean one less step? Or is it the stitching in the darts that holds the entire glued mess together?
 

dpihl

Super Member
Guess I failed to mention two other reasons I think custom ought to be more custom.

So far, fashion CAD is considered to be the exclusive domain of designers,
and students of fashion design.

Hogwash, I say. Every piece of clothing could/should be made form a
custom pattern, based on a person's individual measurements. That the pattern could be based upon templates is a given.

The other point, is that there are places a man can go and have his measurements taken by lasers.
Far more measurements than any human would have the patience to take from one customer.

I agree with Patrick.

A sack takes fewer steps to produce, and less materials to produce than
a traditional suit. Less padding in the shoulders, if any. No darts. Patch
and flap pockets instead of complicated inset pockets with nicely finished
edges.

Why is it that so many "unconstructed" blazers have so many tailored
features? To me it is a farce the way people misuse the term "uncostructed".

Yet the seem to sell very well.

I don't think for a moment they would sell any fewer sack blazers if they
were offered any place "unconstructed" blazers are sold.
 

Patrick06790

Connoisseur
Here's an as an example of something with superfluous dartification:

beanblazer.jpg


I have two of these. It is made of cotton, very similar to chino fabric. It has almost no padding in the shoulder at all. Even in the new no-wrinkle configuration (that's another kvetch), it's never going to look particularly sleek, so why bother with those nasty seams in the front?
 

hbs midwest

Super Member
Here's an as an example of something with superfluous dartification:

beanblazer.jpg


I have two of these. It is made of cotton, very similar to chino fabric. It has almost no padding in the shoulder at all. Even in the new no-wrinkle configuration (that's another kvetch), it's never going to look particularly sleek, so why bother with those nasty seams in the front?
Because 90% or more of the buying public have come to expect them?:(

hbs
 

dpihl

Super Member
Here's an as an example of something with superfluous dartification...it's never going to look particularly sleek, so why bother with those nasty seams in the front?

Exactly! And what's with the complicated pockets? It seems like every unconstructed blazer I've ever seen has this same pocket configuration, or has patch pockets with no flap.

I don't get it.

1. Our niche market is not large enough to generate enough demand for a major company to take interest, in spite of the success that a certain poster over on a certain forum has had in raising the profile of "trad" :rolleyes:

This comment tells me that I wasn't making the point as well as I should have.

The term "niche market" should constitute, oh, say, approximately one person.

I can buy t-shirts with custom slogans and other decorations right now from Cafe Press. But the shirt is mass produced.

I can buy any framed art work I like, and Graphic Dimmensions doesn't require me to buy 100 of the same anything. Why museum gift shops have not clued in on this opportunity eludes me. They'll drop ship to anywhere.

Old-school manufacturers still require a customer to meet minimum order standards, and inventory lots of product.
https://www.axelrodco.com/
https://www.nationalwebbing.com/web-belts.htm
https://www.ginstrim.com/
https://www.baijin.cc/enprosoall.asp?mmm=6&sele=11&search=&text=11&fl=suspenders
https://www.tradeatchina.com/company/catalog/51795253/Knitting_Cufflinks.html
https://www.buttonsfromindia.com/cufflinks.html

But imagine a future in which the super rich are no longer the only people able to order something that is truly bespoke.

A future where just-in-time manufacturing, and publishing on demand were
more than mere catch phrases used in seminars for CEOs.

Suppose some one living in Laramie were given the opportunity to go
outside into a semi trailer, where a merchant has the laser set up to
take his measurements.

The merchant could also have on hand a bunch of swatches for fabrics
available via their web site. You can touch and feel the fabrics.

You know, a traveling trunk show, so to speak.

If somebody like J. Crew figured out how to make really custom tailored
clothing available to the masses, that would be huge.

I know, I know. Too pie in the sky.
 

dpihl

Super Member
Here's a funny story for you.

I emailed the folks at Blair a while ago, trying to explain what I was looking for. Several clothing retailers have responded with the usual outdated reply-- "Hart Scheaffer and Marx sells the sort of suit you're looking for."

Um, yeah. Twenty years ago they might have.

I never heard back from Blair. So I was more than a little surprised when I saw this item listed in a clearance catalog. It had never been in their main catalog. Since when does anybody order something in and send it directly to the clearance aisle. That's like making a film, bypassing the theaters, and then going directly to video and DVD. Oh! Wait! People do that all the time.

The catalog described a 3/2 roll, so I ordered one out of sheer obligation.
Didn't have the heart to tell them that Black has been passe since Abraham Lincoln (Brooks Brothers stopped making black suits after the assassination).

The coat never arrived, and I got a letter of apology instead.

The coat just barely appeared on their web site, and the description has changed slightly. Now it's a 4/3 roll instead of a 3/2 roll. The patch pockets, as usual, seem to lack the flaps that make them look complete.

On the web site, of course, there seems to be no product available.

Still.

Sigh.

Did you get a load of their description yet?

"...today's contemporary style that you can count on to still be "in style" years from now... Three-button front with another button under the lapel..."

Another sigh...

Oh well, I did try!
 

dpihl

Super Member
Attention: All Members of The Trad Forum!

Ahem.

Check the following three recent threads, and compare them with the name and opening premise of this thread from March of 2008.

You just might reach the same conclusion I did...

The Trad Forum matters, and your voices are being heard.

https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showthread.php?t=85625

https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showthread.php?t=83161

https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showthread.php?t=85571

Thank you to the people who make this forum possible!
 

Zos

New Member
In my eyes, J.Crew can sell all the sack blazers, tweed jackets, repp ties, and penny loafers, and they will never gain respect or latch on. A company needs to have the history behind it.
 

StevenRocks

Super Member
In my eyes, J.Crew can sell all the sack blazers, tweed jackets, repp ties, and penny loafers, and they will never gain respect or latch on. A company needs to have the history behind it.
J. Crew may be a hard sell for some, but I think the buying public is more concerned with quality goods than whether there's a history behind the brand.
 

dpihl

Super Member
I wish I understood you guys sometimes.

J. Press, Cable Car, and Ben Silver have been our most reliable allies over these past several decades.

Brooks Brothers has abandoned us entirely, and the three above mentioned retailers have perpetually monkeyed with the formula. Weird father's day ties, Giant logo watches, "TRAD" lapel pins, and Guyabara shirts come to mind as some of the most scorned attempts by J. Press to branch out.

But the complaint we can't seem to avoid leveling at our three most loyal allies on a weekly basis (and Dann Online as well), is that the clothing is too expensive.

A quick look at the RIP Hometown Trad Clothiers thread should tell you that we need all the help we can get in keeping Trad alive.

Mickey Drexler has sought us out, and attempted to befriend the keepers of the faith here.

If you watch the video, he has created a suit that meets every requirement we have bothered to articulate. The video emphasizes every specification on this thread (other than the custom thing). It's obvious that Drexler or his employees have read this very thread.

So we're just going to spit in his face?!?
 
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