The single highest profit item I’ve discovered at the Goodwill stores is their dress coats. In my area, there are people that have money and dress well, that is those who do choose other than jeans and a black t-shirt. This is where I have found the best value for my dollar.
Alpaca – Softer and sturdier than cashmere and lighter than sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece is a luxurious commodity that produces warm, silky, durable and feather-light garments. Alpaca wool boasts tremendous warmth and insulation with a soft drape and texture. Alpaca is frequently used to craft upscale suits, sportswear, sweaters, outerwear linings, draperies, bedspreads and baby clothing and blankets.
Bemberg – coat lining material considered to be generally more durable than silk or other materials.
Camel hair – As with other luxury “wools,” camel hair is extremely soft, durable, lustrous, lightweight and warm. Clothing manufacturers frequently leave camel hair fabric in its natural state (a lustrous golden brown), but it may also dyed navy, red or dark brown. Since it’s so highly prized and expensive to harvest, camel hair is usually blended with sheep’s wool to make it more economical for the manufacturer to produce. Camel hair suits, coats, blazers, jackets, skirts and hosiery are prized for their drape and soft feel. Because of its warmth, camel hair is also used to make sweaters, gloves, scarves and coats.
Cashmere – Cashmere is an extremely soft fiber cultivated from the Kashmir goat. Fibers are cultivated by combing the goat rather than clipping it. Each goat only produces a few ounces of cashmere per year, which makes it one of the most expensive natural fibers.
Herringbone – pattern of cloth weave that tends to be much stronger than plain weaves.
Lapel-Notch – Features a triangular cutout where the lapel is attached to the collar. A high notch on the lapel, an English look, enhances the impression of length in the jacket. Italian designers generally prefer a lower notch.
Lapel-Peak – Designed in an upward and outward V-shape point.
MilMil – A term used by Ermenegildo Zegna to indicate the fine thread used to create their better quality and refined suits. The number represents the size of the thread, in this case, 15 microns. The smaller the number, the finer the thread and the more expensive the cloth.
15MilMil15 = 15 microns
14MilMil14 = 14 microns
13MilMil13 = 13 microns
Patch Pocket – The pocket is sewn onto the exterior of the garment. Usually seen on a relaxed fit or unconstructed sportcoat.
Pick stitching – The stitching at the edge of the lapel creates a hand-tailored look; also known as AMF, made after the original machine that simulated hand stitching. The opposite is a bluffed edge, which has no visible stitching. Pick stitching on the interior of a jacket is called Columbia stitching.
S-numbers – relates only to the diameter of the fiber which is measured in microns. The thinner fibers are usually more fragile and on occasion, if not careful, can wear out after a few dry cleanings. See also “Super 100’s” category immediately below as another reference. Super 100s, Super 120s, Super 140s, Super 150’s and can go all the way to Super 180s, the numbers correspond to the number of threads per inch of fabric, the higher the number of threads or twists, the better the quality and naturally, the more expensive the fabric is.
Super 100’s – Super 100s is a term that measures a wool fiber’s diameter in microns. The higher the super number, the higher the grade of fabric (the lighter and more flexible the fabric), making it softer and more resilient, but harder to tailor. Wool’s micron count must be the same in warp and weft yarns to earn the certification of super 100s to 160s.
Super 100’s = 18.5 micron
Super 110’s = 18.0 micron
Super 120’s = 17.5 micron
Super 160’s = 15.5 micron
Ticket Pocket – A sartorial detail, this half-size third (functional) pocket is located on the right side of the jacket above the flap pocket. It is found on both dress and sport coats, lending a distinctly British custom-made look.
Vents – The flap of cloth below the waist, at the back of the jacket (originally for soldiers who rode horseback; the side vents would lie flat on the soldier’s legs, protecting the gun powder in their pockets, without disturbing the line of the jacket). Options include center, side or non-vent; the most popular at present are side or center-vented jackets.
Worsted Wool – Manufactured in Worstead, England since the eighteenth century. Wool fibers are spun into compact, smoothly twisted yarn before weaving or knitting. The wool then goes through a second combing process which removes unwanted short fibers. It also resists wrinkles and creases.
References: 100s, 110s, 120s, 130s, 140s – What does it mean? – Ask Andy About Clothes; Style: Stitch in Time – Robb Report; Suit Fabrics 101 – The Loft at Regent Lane; The Wool Guide – Sierra Trading Post; What’s Inside Your Suit – Wall Street Journal
Coat Company Rankings
This is a quick and unscientific, unbiased, personal listing of many companies I find in the Goodwill or wish I could find in Goodwill for the purpose of having a handy reference to see what I might or might not consider depending on quality, demand and cost. This is a quick and non-comprehensive list of coat/suit manufacturers I compiled with help from the website TheGuideToMensSuits.com. Remember, this is my personal research and will change as I am corrected. Let me know what you think as these names will surely be juggled around for a while with corrections as well as adding more companies to each column.
Yves Saint Laurent
Dolce & Gabbana
Oscar de la Renta
Hart Schaffner & Marx
Jos A Bank
Jones of New York
Articles on Coats (links)
That’s So Brodie – Where There’s a GOODWILL, There’s a Way
Thrifty Gent – How to Thrift, Thrift Stores
Did you know?
- Are you looking for a quick synopsis of the various suit companies with information on the quality, costs, and type? Visit the GuideToMensSuits.com for some great comparisons. Good information!
- “The Zegna company, which produces 2 million meters, or 2.2 million yards, of cloth per year, manufactures the suiting for Giorgio Armani Collezione, as well as the made-to-measure elements of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.” – Ref: NY Times
- “Because Ermenegildo Zegna is one of the few luxury ready-to-wear brands to also produce its own fabrics, Zegna neckwear is also color coordinated with all of the cloth produced at the family-owned wool-weaving mill in Trivero, Italy.” – Ref: Robb Report