James here is holding out my latest sportcoat to wear today. It’s the same one I’m wearing in the previous post, which a reader inquired about. It’s actually this jacket from Brooks Brothers; I’d been eyeing it since the beginning of the season, really digging the fabric and knowing it would look great with my grey flannels and wool challis ties, which has been my uniform this winter.
As I was wearing it for the first time when I met with Crittenden Rawlings, and as he works as a consultant for Daidoh, the Japanese company with factories in Japan and China that manufactures for Brooks, and where my girlfriend used to work, I thought I’d ask what he thought of it.
Critt opened the fully canvassed jacket to the inside to look for signs of hand stitching, which he immediately found. Not only does Daidoh do good work, he said, but Asian factories in general that use hand tailoring often produce exceptional stitching, being more disciplined by nature than their European counterparts, he said in a sweeping but fair generalization.
But even Critt was surprised to find hand felled edges along the inside of the vent. “Not even Brioni does that,” he said.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to defend outsourcing nor the foreign ownership of iconic American companies. But I did think it worth broaching the topic that China is capable of producing better quality than you might think, and — for better or worse — that quality usually comes at a cheaper price than on a comparable item made here.
In the interest of a balanced review, I should note that the attention to handwork on the jacket is grossly undercut by the extremely cheap buttons Brooks Brothers uses on most of its tailored clothing. I’ve replaced buttons on trousers as well as this sportcoat, something I never have to do with clothing from Ralph Lauren. From a manufacturing standpoint, all details should matter, not just certain ones. — CC