Iconic Brands - After They Fall
A Sad Tale of the Modern Era
by Alexander Kabbaz, Master Clothier
As one who formerly sold Zimmerli of Switzerland longer than anyone else - and for many years as the largest Zimmerli retailer - I am saddened by the firm's decline.
Nobody is a stronger advocate of adherence to old-world quality than I, having fought the worldwide cheapening of fine custom shirtmaking for more than forty five years now. But when technology advances and makes possible a better product, it is the duty of the conscientious artisan to use every possible advantage to improve his wares.
Personally, I've worn Size Large Zimmerli Royal Classic shirts for 40 years. Now, notwithstanding my 10 pounds lighter than a decade ago, I am forced to wear Extra Large or look like I've borrowed from my middle teen's T-shirt collection. The iconic Richelieu Rib tank shirt made famous by Hugh Jackman in Wolverine featured the incomparable "lettuce edge" hem. It was lovingly produced on ancient machines capable of making 32 shirts each day. Now a half-foot shorter both front and back - with the unparalleled hem replaced by a common seam-binding - the once-proud icon is but a shadow of its former self. And the decreased length has allowed a daily production increase of more than 25%. Pureness micromodal, for the past decade the most supportive of Zimmerli's offerings and my personal favorite, has degraded to a thinness reminiscent of tissue paper.
As responsible top-market retailers, we must keep a close eye on changes such as these. Our clients need to be able to depend upon our recommendations. Thus we took it upon ourselves to do some comparative studies. An example: Zimmerli offers a "Sea Island Cotton" shirt which, with but a few proper launderings, shrinks in length from 28" down to 24".
Suffice it to say that, for some, profit has become the driving force. Iconic names are no longer assurance of the finest products. It's sad.
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