|Just in From Europe
New For Summer 2010!
See column below
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Custom made Italian Silk Robe
Ankle Length Marcoliani Merinos
Bresciani Retro Stripe Dress Socks
Pure Silk Zimmerli Negligee
The New Urban Chic in White
Urban Chic Boxer Pant
Urban Chic is Girl Friendly, Too!
Magica Fashion Stripe Knee Highs
Bresciani Faux Cable Knit OTC
Zimmerli Pureness Rib:The Long
... and the Short of it! HOT!!!
Marcoliani Merino Knee-Highs
Summer Retro Casual Stripe
Zimmerli Pureness Shawl
Zimmerli Cocoon Lounge/WarmUp
Begg: World's Finest
Zimmerli for Women Belle de
Taking shortcuts in the creation of quality
products has been one of my pet peeves over
the years. As well as we might try to make
our bespoke shirts and as much as we ride
herd over our socks & underwear artisans, the
wide range of men's and women's accessories
available on the market is a haven for
shortcuts. This month I'll focus on leather
accessories. The article appears below.
Speaking of Socks ...
I know. I know.
I wasn't speaking of socks. Nonetheless,
the spectacular new men's Zig-Zag Follia
cotton lisle socks from Marcoliani-Milano. A
great way to add a bit of pizaazz to your
Us ... Forget the Distaff?!?
Of course not! We asked Paolo, Carlo,
and Erminia make the same socks for our loyal
ladies ... in a few different colors.
Naturally, the Black is available for women
but sorry, guys. you don't get the Lime Green!
From Zimmerli, a host of new items. For the
guys there is a new style of Luxury
underwear and the new Urban Chic is becoming
more popular by the day.
The Distaff can
revel not only in
the new Regatta Top & Pant set, but two
beautiful new ribbed Pureness dresses and a
Pureness shawl collar bodysuit as well! There
are photos and links to these and many other
brand new items in the left column.
All of our new 2010 Spring/Summer goodies
are now here. This issue features a few.
See our What's
Coming Soon pages for
much more. Don't miss our Custom
Joelle Kelly & Alexander Kabbaz
In Response: Due to the number
of requests, we have now
made all the Sartorial Excellence News
available on our web site. Click here.
As always, we love your feedback: Contact
your thoughts, positive or not. We'll respond to
them (anonymously, of course) in our upcoming
|Caveat Emptor - A Primer on
Hallmarks of Quality: Mens & Womens Leather Accessories
Kabbaz, Master Artisan
Enter the studio of any fine leather
craftsperson and this is what you'll see. The
cutting block where it all begins, some
patterns, and a myriad of tools of the trade.
In this article you'll learn
many of the important quality characteristics
to look for and short explanations as to why
these are important. Though I'll use the
construction of men's braces and women's
handbags as my primary examples, know that
most of the same shortcuts are used in
briefcases, small leather goods such as
wallets, and soft-sided luggage.
Leather Cutting Block: Really interested?
Note the unique similarity among the
accessories I mentioned: All are made from a
combination of leather and fabric. What is the
overarching difference between leather (or
exotic skins) and fabric? While leather can
just be cut into shape and remain functional,
the raw edges of cut fabric absolutely must
be turned and sewn down or the yarns will
Raw-edged vs. Turned-edge Leather
Here lies my greatest complaint:
the raw edges of leather. Leather can - and
should, have its cut edges turned under just
like fabric. It is more attractive. It is
more durable. It offers significantly greater
longevity. And it requires talent, time, and
training - years of it!
Raw-Edged(left) vs. Turned brace
Raw-Edged Handbag Top Trim: It could be
Leather pieces can - and usually are -
die-cut and hole-punched by a machine called
a "clicker", often without regard to where on
the skin the piece is placed. Once cut, a
minimally trained sewing machine operator
throws in a few stitches and the piece is
ready to go.
Raw-Edged(front) vs. Turned brace
Note the fraying and leather 'schmutz'
from the front piece.
This can't be emphasized strongly enough,
for it is the greatest cost-cutting measure
of all. Yes, some may use cowhide where
calfskin would have been better, thus saving
half or more on the cost of materials. Some
may use nylon thread rather than cotton or
silk. It's easier to sew and cheaper. But
let's face it - saving a few bucks on
materials vs. saving hours of expensive,
highly skilled labor is but a small thing.
Examine for a moment the process of turning
leather edges. Unlike fabric which is simply
turned or seamed and sewn, leather often
needs the advance preparation of skiiving
before it can be turned. Skiiving is the
process - best done by a skilled
leatherworker's hands, of trimming the
under-surface of the cut edge to make it
thinner and more pliable. One slip of the
skivving knife will remove a chunk rather
than a sliver and the cut piece instantly
becomes garbage. But without the thinning,
the edge would be thick and hard, making the
finished product both ugly and stiff.
Finished, Turned Pieces(left)
right in raw form ready for
Raw-Edged(left) vs. Turned brace
backs:You be the judge.
Raw-Edged Handbag Handle:
backing fraying out of the unturned raw
This becomes especially difficult on the
harder skins such as alligator which require
the skill of only the most talented ... and
even moreso when one factors in that a cut
piece of alligator can cost 10-20 times that
of a piece of leather.
Some makers will go one extra step with
raw-edged products. The will use an
"edge-coat" dye to color the raw edge so that
it matches the leather color. Although better
than the plain, uncolored raw edge, edge
coating eventually wears off, especially at
points of stress.
Edge-coated Buckle Attachment: Note red
dye has worn away
where the handle buckle
rotates during use.
Leather and Skin Thickness - A Matter
A second issue to be aware of involves
the use of thinner leathers and exotics such
as Teju lizard. Snakeskin is especially
susceptible. In these cases, strength can be
an issue. The solution is simple but often
ignored in the quest to economize by using
raw edges. These materials need a
dimensionally strong backing layer. Some
makers solve this issue by glueing the skin
to a leather, cloth, or other substrate type
of backing prior to cutting. This,
again, permits the use of raw, rather than
turned, edges. These are even uglier because,
as time passes and the adhesive strength
decreases, edge separation and fraying are
often the result.
Rear Side(left) shows the backing
and turned in edges of this
alligator brace back
The proper method is to cut a larger
piece from the skin, skive the edges, glue in
the backing, and, after turning the edge
under, following it wherever possible with a
Visible vs. Hidden - Are They Equally
As an artisan of more than five decades
(ouch!), my final issue lies in what
is normally visble vs. what is not seen. It
is a maxim of the best makers that no matter
what part of an item a client looks at it
will be pleasing to the eye. This means,
quite simply, that what the outside observer
is able to see should not be the sole
criterion by which quality is judged. One
should be able to look at the inside, the
reverse ... any of the parts which do not
normally show ... and be just as pleased.
Rear Side(left) of the raw-edged
brace fitting from above is simply ugly
whereas the turned-edge example is meant
to be viewed from anywhere
The attitude of "it doesn't show when
worn or used - therefore it doesn't matter - just
doesn't cut it with the true artisan and it
should not be acceptable to you either. This
often carries over to
"well, it's barely visible so it can be
sloppy". An experienced, top-quality maker
just will not
tolerate sloppiness anywhere on the piece.
The top edge trim of the handbag, normally
hidden in the fold,
was neither skiived nor
turned. Simply ... sloppy!
In Conclusion ... Caveat
All of this does not mean you should be
peering inside your handbags or inspecting
your braces and firing off letters of
complaint to their creators. Raw edges in
leather goods are commonplace; turned edges
the rarity and in some cases not possible.
But when inspecting your
potential acquisitions, make note of these
shortcuts. Look inside and underneath, back
as well as front, not just at the veneer.
You'll be a better buyer; your
accessories the nicer and more durable for
Thank you for your time.
Copyright © 2010 Alexander S. Kabbaz, All
|A Free Silk & Cashmere or Silk Scarf for Mother's Day!
Don't forget Mom!
We've reserved 9
Kabbaz-Kelly custom made 72" Silk Charmeuse
scarves for the first 9 clients who place a
Mother's Day order over $200.
even more: The first five orders for $500 or
more will receive a custom made Kabbaz-Kelly
Italian Cashmere front/Silk back scarf
specially for Mom. Just
write "Mother's Day" in the message box at
checkout and the custom scarf will ship with
This special offer ends Sunday May 2nd ... but
there's no chance they'll last that long. Get
your order in today!
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Scott & Charters Custom Made
Collar Cashmere Cardigan
Available in more than 200 Colors
Shown in color Camelia
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