If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between super high-end designer wear and designer wear you’re not alone. On a recent shopping trip, I was desperately searching for a black pinstripe tuxedo for an event I was attending. Mind you, I can be a bit of a label snob, but ironically I’m also a bargain hunter. I wanted something designer, but not terribly expensive; a feat that is difficult but not impossible.
My first stop was Neiman Marcus where I found a TOM FORD for just under $5,000 - a little rich for my blood. Then I found a Gucci for a couple thousand and some change. I then sauntered over to Nordstrom where I found a Hugo Boss for $795 which I purchased on the spot. However, the question still remained, is there really a huge difference? The answer is yes.
Hugo Boss suits are mass produced and sewn by a machine which generally takes around 3 hours max. The result of this is, the suit will feel stiffer and less comfortable. Tom Ford suits have hand stitching throughout. The peak lapel on the Shelton has a hand-finished double-stitched silk button hole and hand stitched buttons on the front and the sleeves.
Ford also throws in some extras like his signature hand-rolled three-fold hang cord and exclusive blend lining which is going to be as comfortable in the winter as it is in the summer. The material used to line the Boss jacket is Viscose which will cause perspiration no matter the season.
While the Boss suit is made from acceptable 100 percent wool, the FORD is a blend of finely woven mulberry silk and a higher grade wool which will last longer and hold its shape for years. Plus the Ford is tailored in Italy not Turkey - yet another reason for the price tag.
Most importantly is what you can’t see. The Shelton is fully canvassed with camel hair. What this means is the entire top and bottom of the jacket's front is built around an internal layer of Canvas. The canvas will hold the outer portion of the jacket in place. The Hugo Boss has a fused canvas. Fusing uses a waterproof glue that holds the jacket front together.
The glue is applied to the fabric to stiffen it, giving a simulation of a canvas. Fully Fusing makes the jacket unbreathable and it will show signs of bubbling after dry cleaning as the glue begins to come apart from the fabric. Fully fusing also reduces the comfort of the suit, making movement difficult.
Finally, there is style. The Hugo Boss looks like your run of the mill slim fit suit. This isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t stand out in a crowd. The TOM FORD's Shelton base resembles the classic Windsor, an elegant and well-balanced classic fit with inspiration drawn from the end of the 1940s to the beginning of the 1950s.
Needless to say, I raced back out and returned the Hugo Boss and bit the bullet and purchased the Shelton. Sure, I’m probably paying at least $2000 for the name, but at least I can say I own a Tom Ford.