AS a man I am interested to some extent in clothes—in fact I have to be, whether I want to or not. It is all right to affect disregard for the styles and conventionalities of life, but few persons care to be written down as freaks. Man may talk learnedly of being superior to his surroundings and so utterly oblivious to what is taking place that it matters not whether his trousers are too long, his vest too short or his coat too small. There are two kinds of people who attract unfavorable attention ; or perhaps “notoriety” would be a more applicable term. They are the overdressed and the underdressed. The best dressed male is he who observes a happv medium, neither leaning to the extremes of the ultra-fastidious nor adopting the indolent idea that anything will do.
Every man, who has any sense of
self-respect—and a man without this 182
quality is never much of an asset to himself or society—likes to appear neat and smart. He may not be susceptible to vanity or flattery but, nevertheless, it is pleasing to hear from those whose opinions are sincere and well worth having, that he looks the part—that he has shown good taste and judgment in the selection of his garments, both as to fabric and design.
Ideas change as the world advances. We do not eat the same dishes to-day that we did twenty years ago. We do not build the same style of houses, seek the same class of amusements, or follow the old methods of agriculture, mining, dairying, or manufacturing. With these revolutions our opinions, or rather habits, which, in the final analysis, are largely prejudices, have also undergone change. Everything is being directed towards specialization and concentration. The man who forges to the front nowadays is the expert, who, by his superior knowledge, reduces cost and increases production. The skilled man is ever at work devising new things ; some are turned to profitable account while others have met with indifferent success because they were not feasible. It is the old law of the survival of the fittest.
It is only a little over a genera. tion ago that all shoes were made by hand. To-day the hand-made shoe is a relic, and is also a much higherpriced and less durable article than that turned out by the best equipped factories, the outputs of which have reached the acme of worth and wear as well as quality and quantity. It has been demonstrated that every width and size and shape of foot— every pedal peculiarity—can be satisfied by mechanical means. The same now applies in the matter of dress for men. The turning out of great quantities by time and laborsaving methods has reduced the cost of production, and at the same time increased the value and variety of the output. The resources of not one, but of many minds have been appealed to. The result is seen today in the tailoring trade in achievements that a decade ago would have been regarded as impossible. The views of men have broadened. Association and necessity have placed our ideas and conceptions of things on a higher level. The term readymade, which a few years ago was in numerous instances synonymous with hand-me-down, was one rather of ridicule and reproach. The opinion then existed that only a certain price was to be attached to these goods and only a certain class of people would wear them. It was recognized that if a man wanted a really serviceable, distinctive, and well tailored suit, he could not obtain it in this class of goods. He sought the custom tailor, paid him a high price, and waited patiently for a product which may or may not
have been better than the readymade. The origin of clothes readyto-wear, which has had to fight and overcome so many prejudices, has, at last been carried to its legitimate conclusion, and the originators of the Semi-ready idea, who conceived the plan of making up the finest fabrics, importing them direct and doing business by a wide and thoroughly systematic method of distribution from one central workshop, have shown any doubting Thomases that the principle permeating the project from end to end, is not how cheap but how good.
The advantagesof co-operation and concentration are to-day freely conceded and a large organization naturally possesses many facilities which the individual does not. I was particularly impressed with these facts when paying a visit to the big Semi-readv factory in Montreal the other day. That great modern wholesale tailoring establishment for men reveals something to even the most casual observer, how easily and yet naturally the clothing trade has been revolutionized. The system from beginning to end is unique, progressive, and yet thorough in every respect. Like all clever inventions, one is struck with the simplicity and matter-offact sense in the idea. The vast output and the unexcelled facilities for doing the highest class work with the maximum speed and efficiency have made Semi-readv clothes the peer of anything in their line. There is no similarity whatever to a readymade clothing factory. The Semireadv people do more than make the clothes. They have a buying plan, a manufacturing plan, and a selling system so perfect that, as an organization, the company stands for all that is strongest and satisfying in the great garment world. They have even carried their splendid system to such a point as to furnish an absolute guarantee with every suit or overcoat that leaves their establishment, which covers the materials incorporated in its make-up, the making itself, and the proviso, that if satisfaction on all points is not given, the guarantee and garment may be returned and the deficiency, if any, in worth or wear will be made good: or in
other words, the money will be refunded.
On the first floor of the factory, in which over four hundred persons are employed, I found immense importations from across the water, together with special patterns and designs which had been asked for by the patrons of Semi-ready or else suggested by the company. They are originators not only of fabrics but of styles. They follow no hard and fast lines, no severe standards of fashion’s fulminations, but examining all the designs of the leaders in various parts of the world, they adopt modifications of many and make all their garments from their own plates.
Another advantage in connection with a manufacturing establishment like Semi-ready is that they have the cost system figured down to a fraction. There is no guess work about it. Everything has a definite basis, and the owners, by careful attention to details, are enabled to practice such economies that ensure their garments being placed before the wearer at the lowest possible
outlay. There is no wilful waste either of time, talent, or material. Everything is made to tell and tell effectively in achieving results, which afford gentlemen the chance of buying fine fabrics tailored to the correct mode so that they can be tried on and worn the same day or within a few hours after selection.
The top floor of the factory is devoted exclusively to the making of coats, which work is divided into thirty-one parts. Each part is in charge of a specialist who does nothing else but devote his entire attention to becoming so proficient as to insure perfection. I saw one man whose sole duty it is to work buttonholes, another to insert sleeves, a third to sew on buttons, a fourth to cutting pockets, a fifth lapels, a sixth pocket flaps, and so the whole gamut might he run. The coat undergoes thirty-one inspections, each one distinct and thorough, before the garment is passed on to another specialist on its course to completion. On a lower floor are the vests and trousers departments, where the same individual attention is given to various parts in the creation of these articles of clothing. Every one does a little and learns to do that little well. The result is seen in the artistic and distinctive characteristics evidenced in Semi-ready clothing. On another floor is the cutting department. Here trained men do special work and do it with a system, method and skill which an ordinary custom tailor could never hope to attain. Each garment gets personal and persistent attention. On the ground floor, where the clothes pass inspection and the various quantities as cut-off are marked on a tag. the final inspection of the finished suit or overcoat takes place. This is done in no perfunctory manner, but is performed by three expert tailors who have had a life-long experience in catering to the tastes, whims and fancies of mankind.
All the cutting, shaping and making of Semi-ready garments is based on a scientific system of physique types of which there are seven subdivisions and three variations of each subdivision. It naturally follows that every man, no matter what his build, his height, or bodily conformation, will come under some of these divisions ; but as there are always exceptions to every rule, so there may be certain physical make-ups now and then that even Semi-ready tailoring cannot satisfy. Therefore, in each of their two hundred distributing stores throughout the Dominion there is a special order department to nlease the customer who may not haopen to be satisfied with the offering that a Semi-ready store or agency has in stock. Some 250 woolen patterns of suits or overcoats are shown in the special order department of every store in Canada. Suits are made within four days and this branch has grown to such proportions, that over ten thousand special orders were filled last year. When an order is received at the factory a green ticket with the necessary specifications, is attached to the fabric from which the suit or overcoat is to be made. Exactly four days after the order is received—whether by mail or the special telegraphic code of the company—the finished garment is sent out by express. There is no delay.
The green ticket stands for the right of way, the clearing of the line. Everything must move at the display of this signal. I found that Semiready Company never breaks faith with any of its dealers or customers. The guarantee to have all special orders filled within four days after receiving is genuine. Plausible promises do not avail in a big concern. Like their guarantee, the word of this company in the clothing world means something. It means that they have helped to educate the purchasing public to the fact that there is a distinctiveness, a refinement, a style, quality and fit about all their garments that give comfort and satisfaction to the wearer.
Men who are able to buy good clothes, men who realize the true worth of a dollar, know that the art of tailoring has reached a point which the custom tailor, with his limited output and slow methods, could never hope to equal in design, finish, dressiness or taste. By the Semi-ready system a man knows exactly what he is getting and has the opportunity of seeing how a certain style or cut becomes him, for to be well dressed is to look becoming. He can judge of the refinement and expression of each pattern, of the hang and fold of every garment. By this means guess work is entirely eliminated. If there is one thing that makes a man uncomfortable, undignified, ill-at-ease, it is the knowledge that his clothes do not fit. He feels like apologizing for his appearance and yet he is not in a financial position possibly to throw aside a dowdy or unsatisfactory suit that has been foisted and fastened upon him. He must wear it to obtain at least a part of his money’s worth or a slight return on his improvident investment. With Semi-ready garments I discovered there is no chance or guess work, and back of them stands a guarantee or trade-mark which is a demand note for redemption. Another outstanding feature is that all garments are sold at exactly the same price in every store in the Dominion. In all the provinces parties are charged exactly the same sum. There can be no deviation from the fixed price which is proclaimed prominently in plain figures.
An interesting deduction is seen in that the day of cheap things is passing not only in clothing, but other lines of manufacture. I was surprised to learn that the Semiready sell many more twenty-five and thirty-dollar suits than they do fifteen. This demonstrates the tendency of the age to place the palm upon merit and excellence rather than upon things that make for mere mediocrity or temporary satisfaction. This observation is not to be interpreted as meaning that a fifteen dollar suit is not good value for the money, but merely to show that higher-priced garments declare that in the end the costliest is relatively the cheapest. Fundamentally, quality determines the success of any article, just as the success of every merchant depends upon the quality of the goods he handles. Semi-ready garments measure up to the very highest quality standard and there is no acceptable substitute for them. Money is saved in buying, in making, and in advertis-
ing, and with the enormous output in one executive headquarter, such as Semi-ready possesses, endless expenses that a custom tailor has to bear, are obviated.
Semi-ready clothes are sold at a closer margin to cost than any others. Semi-ready has also effected economy and is able to place its goods before patrons at a close margin that makes them much more valuable at the figure they are sold than if they were manufactured in small quantities, in different places, under local and other disadvantageous conditions.
I was firmly convinced, after an impartial investigation into the wonderful svstem that has been evolved whereby the art of wholesale tailoring has been reduced to a science as marvellous as that of any other line of enterprise, that the Semiready idea stands for and represents something more than the average man comprehends; that it points the way to better things and the realization of higher ideals : that it brings home to the men of moderate means the greatest possible advantages and pleasures in the matter of dress, and contributes to the satisfaction and sense of comfort that all males, young and old, feel when they secure the best without delay or disappointment.
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