Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Higher than a Kiton

Forgive me for never having heard of Kiton until seeing an article on them in the NY Times last week. Anyone who's checked out my husband's closet knows that there is nothing resembling a $7,000 suit in there. No, he's more the L.L. Bean and corporate logowear type. His wardrobe, in fact, can be said to have taken a downturn when I stopped working full-time and lost access to regular give-outs of corporate polo and tee-shirts. (Thank God for the Northern Arizona polo shirt Professor Tom sent along in his Christmas box.)

Saks Fifth Avenue, however, has heard of Kiton. In fact, they've been after them for years to let them open a Kiton boutique in New York City.

The dream is now coming true - and talk about poor timing.

With Wall Street jobs crashing all over the place, TARP putting a crimp in bonuses, and Bernie Madoff getting measured for an orange jump suit, it's hard to believe that there'll be a lot of folks lining up to buy a $7,000 suit. And that's a$ 7,000 off-the-rack suit.  (Made to order will set you back $21K.)

It's all in the detail, apparently.

The cuff buttons on Kiton suits can actually be opened - for those times when the man of Kiton needs to really role up his sleeves and push derivatives - which is hard going, these days. Of course, it is considered a bit déclassé and show-off-y to open up the buttons. It's enough for a real Kiton man to just know that they're there.

If the $7K suit is too rich for your blood, sunglasses are $1,395, a pair of pants will run you $1,195, and some rough and ready jeans will set  you back $795.

The clothing is supposed to be fabulous (of course) - and fit like a "second skin." And the suit jackets don't wrinkle in the overhead cabinet.

Of course, I would think that someone wearing a $7K suit is probably in first class, with the stew hanging up his jacket for him, or perhaps in a private jet. But maybe the trade-off is $7K suit or flying coach. (Nah.)

And, by the way, you don't have to pay $7K to have a suit jacket that doesn't wrinkle when crushed. When I was in my prime, business-drag suit wearing days, I used to buy what I thought of as fairly expensive suits. I can't remember the maker - Frederick's of Hollywood is running through my brain, but it was Someone of Boston. The suits cost $400-500 - and this was 20 years ago. They did wear like iron and, in retrospect, they looked like chain mail. This was, of course, in the era when women wore what I called "penis envy" suits, and those snappy floppy bow ties.

Those were the days.

But I digress.

Kiton suits are made by hand in Italy, and it takes 25 hours to make a suit jacket alone. Consider that it probably takes another 25 hours for the trousers, and the fact that the fabric is likely a notch or two above what you'd find at Jos. Bank and, well, it all adds up.

Given the retail doldrums in general, and the hits taken by the Wall Street big spenders in particular, Saks has to be mega-bummed at the timing of their Kiton experiment.

While no doubt privately tearing out their hair, they are putting a game face on publicly.

“These are decisions that are made with significant advance planning,” said Ronald L. Frasch, president and chief merchandising officer for Saks. He emphasized that he would not undo the decision even if he could.

“A store like Saks needs to have the best product available,” Mr. Frasch said. “And I do think the man who wants to present himself in a certain way, he’s still out there.”

I suspect that the Kiton sales guys have some lonely days ahead of them. And with the global economy in generally wretched shape, they can't count on tourists to pick up the slacks. Maybe they'll catch on with the drug trade or other organized crime. Or ball players. A lot of them still seem to be managing to pull down 8-figures a year. And a lot of those guys are in New York. Mark Teixiera's new to town, having signed a big whopping contract with the Yankees. And A-Rod's got plenty of walking around money, and will want to look his best in case there's any kind of Congressional testimony or court appearance associated with the recent revelation that he use steroids.

Saks maintains that "the customer [who] is searching for value" will find it in Kiton.

I decided to head on over to the Kiton website to see for myself. All very luxe, all very nice, all very beautiful. My favorite section is the Duke of Windsor Private Collection. (You may have to search around for this - I'm not sure if this link will take you there.) I can't tell if they just happened to own some of Edward's elegant duds and keep it on exhibit, a little fashionista Smithsonian exhibit. Or whether you can actually buy Duke of Windsor knock offs.04_g_duca

But Saks will probably sell a whole bunch of Kiton $7,000 suits before they sell one of these babies. The best of everything for the young, ambitious hedge fund manager who cares not a whit what man or market thinks of him....

With or without cuff buttons that open, they just don't make men's clothing like they used to, do they?


Anonymous said...

Since the hedgies presumably know their way around a golf course, they could doll up in the Duke of Windsor plus fours and set themselves up as caddies. Or troll the streets as Bertie Wooster (world's biggest ninny) impersonators--oh, right, they wouldn't need a costume for that.

Nozzie said...

Kiton Napoli really keeps quality sartorial traditions high. At least you get a tag which says "made in Italy" in it. As brands like Versace, Ermenegildo Zegna allready produce shirts in Romania and Turkey. Maybe start with a Kiton necktie 60% off (retail $265) at Kiton is the Manolo Blahnik for men. Very Addictive.

Maureen Rogers said...

Like Manolo, only doesn't cause pain and can be worn by someone over the age of 27!

Anonymous said...

It wasnt "Fredricks of Hollywood" you most likely meant "Louis of Boston".

stevieb said...

Kiton is nice - albeit ludicrously expensive at retail prices. That being said, brand new Kiton suits can be had at steep discounts at places like ebay and online luxury discounters like

So for men who love and appreciate the highest quality and beautiful craftsmanship and fabrics, there are certainly ways to get around paying full retail! $7,000, maybe not, but $2,000 - $2,500? I'll bite!