Sunday, September 8, 2013

The $50,000 coat

    What are you willing to pay for a coat? Would you pay $50,000? You're probably thinking that is insane, right? After all the Wall Street Journal often lists a luxury item; say a $10,000 designer dress, and then lists all the similarly themed items that you could buy instead of that one item.
      What if your coat was completely handmade? What if you knew that the fabric was crafted by hand in every step, from the shearing of the animal to the final stitches?
   In Meg Noonan's book, "The Coat Route Craft, Luxury and Obsession, on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat" she explores such a coat.
    The book traces the last of the bespoke tailors in London's Seville row. Well, the book traces the last of many people and companies that craft experiences. That is really what buying clothing is about anyway? The cheap thrill of buying 20 t-shirts made in some factory in Bangladesh for $10? How long are those going to last you? Did you need those 20 items anyway? Why not buy one really well made item? This logic works on food items too. Why eat lots of low fat items when you can savor a few bites of one really rich, well made food product? That could just be me being a chocolate snob and having recently shelled out $6 for a chocolate bar from Chuao Chocolates. Their bars can last me a least a week and their flavor combinations are bizarre enough to be delicious.
   Even if you think spending that much money on clothing is ridiculous, 'The Coat Route" is a fascinating read. Ms. Noonan starts at the source of the coat, the Vicuna, an animal that looks like a cross between Bambi and a camel. The Vicuna is softer than cashmere and was at the brink of extinction. Apparently they are doing quite well now that the shearing process has been revamped. The Financial Times magazine even has a spread on them this weekend.
  Every step of the coat is laid out. The lining, made of silk hand loomed and silk screened to make it one of a kind. The buttons, hand carved from horn. Even the gold hanger bar, hand engraved with the name of the owner and the tailor. Especially the engraver, who wears a signet ring with what has to be the best motto ever on it: Cave Furorem Patientis, "Beware the Fury of a Patient Man".
   Everyone mentioned in this book is a patient man. And everyone in this book says the same thing. Their craft is slowly dying, who will take up the mantel? No one wants to work with their hands, apprentice for 5, 10, 15 years. No one sees what this means.
    Cursive handwriting is soon to be cut from curriculum. More power to the schools say most people. Why do we need handwriting? We can just type. This is like when the telephone came about. And on and on it goes. If you can't write it, you probably won't be able to read it. A generation will be unable to read the great documents that gave them their freedoms that they so strongly believe in.
   If we don't have the people that make beautiful things how will we be able to have future generations know what goes into making a button and what that means. People take it for granted that they can go in any store and buy an article of clothing and they neglect what goes into that article of clothing.
   I fear that soon certain things will be lost on future generations, so I highly recommend that you pick up this book and read about what goes into a $50,000 coat. It may be very well worth that price, maybe even more. 

No comments:

Post a Comment