February 28, 2013

Out and About: Beckett & Robb

One of the nice things about living in a big city is that there are always new men’s clothing stores to explore. Sometimes they have been around forever and have been hiding in plain sight, and other times they’re brand new and flying under the radar. When Dustin informed me that a new tailored clothing company was expanding into a lot just a few blocks away from my downtown office I decided to take a peek - enter Beckett & Robb.

Beckett & Robb is quite new to the Bay Area; they moved into Wingtip’s old location at One Embarcadero only three months ago. The company started four years ago as a traveling tailor in the Salt Lake City area and eventually opened up a permanent shop there. They have now opened up here and are looking to expand further along the West Coast in the coming months.

Beckett & Robb is a tailored clothing company specializing in what I’d call “advanced made-to-measure;” in my mind this differs from the normal MTM experience because the measurements are taken in-person by a professional over one or more fittings rather than by the customer, therefore increasing the level of accuracy (if the employee is adequately skilled). This business model is not uncommon; Proper Suit and Michael Andrews “Bespoke” come to mind as purveyors of this method. 

There are a few things that made Beckett & Robb intriguing to me. First, it was interesting to learn that every single yard of fabric available (and there are many) comes from a name-brand mill in Italy or England. Fabrics are available from Zegna, Loro Piana, Vitale Barbaris Canonico, and more; VBC comes in at $695 for the cheaper cloths. The second is that suit production takes place in Portugal and the shirt production is in Spain. This has a few advantages: the first is the “made in Europe” label, which is important for those that are uncomfortable with production in far-away East Asia countries. I don’t personally know if their production facility is better or worse than an equivalent Chinese one, but I will be the first to admit that certain countries of origin bring with them a certain level of consumer comfort. The second advantage is one that I found particularly interesting, and would not have figured out on my own. The cost of the fabrics used at B&R is quite high, given then name-brand status, but these prices become much higher when taxes and markups are applied for overseas shipments (often on the order of 200%). Because the factory is in Europe the fabrics can be shipped directly without these markups, which saves everyone involved quite a bit of money.

Outside of fabric styles, the suits come with a variety of detail and construction options. Suits come standard with half-canvas construction, but can be full-canvas or the ever-popular unstructured option. They are constructed in a third-generation tailoring facility that uses a combination of machine work (e.g. fabric cutting) and handwork (collars, sleeves, and buttonholes if you’d like).

I have not yet purchased any of Beckett & Robb’s products, but I’m certainly intrigued. At the very least it will be interesting to see how they grow over the coming months.

There rest of the “Out and About” Series can be found here.


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