Product Review: Coppley LTD

The one thing that I really love about what I do, is that I get to learn every day. Before ending up where I am now, I had never worked in retail and had only begun to get in to the murky world of #menswear. At that time, most of my knowledge was gleaned from the internet and from trial and error - both of which can be a bit dangerous :P It is nice when I get the opportunity to get real knowledge from those in the know and that have that have actual experience. Now, I have received great information from those where I work, but it is great to go to the source. This is exactly the type of experience I received when I was fortunate enough to visit Coppley for a meet-and-greet, a factory tour, and a knowledge session on fit, construction, fabrics, history and much more. I would also like to thank each and every person I met there and have dealt with over the past couple of months - you have made my job much easier!

We have made a conscious effort at John McNabb Clothier to carry Canadian made goods. Coppley fits that bill with its facilities located in the heart of Hamilton, Ontario and I mean, literally in the middle of the downtown. And while 'Steel Town' has seen better days, Coppley has survived - and so it should. It makes a hell of a garment. Coppley encompasses three buildings and the layout is, well, quaint. When you think of factories, you may think of long, sprawling spaces - sterile and mechanized. I was surprised to see that Coppley was still in the same buildings that it had inhabited since after WW2 - if not before. It adds a homey feel to the facility, reminiscent of a time when quality clothing was produced in North America with gusto. A time before marketing and brand names became more important than quality. A time before manufactures instinctively shipped garments offshore to save a few dollars. Coppley in a sense is a true heritage brand, something that is often touted today in marketing campaigns to justify prices and stimulate sales, but rarely holds up to inspection. Coppley has true heritage. The company began life in 1883 that is only 16 years after Canada gained control over its internal affairs from Great Britain and began to take shape as the country we know today. It has gone through many changes and transformations - some good, some bad - the most recent being purchased by Individualized Apparel Group, home to such brands as Gitman Bros. and Oxxford Clothes. Employees that I talked to seem to happy with the new parent company and the possibilities that being part of it may bring.

The new parent will definitely help bring some artillery to Coppley - and they may well need it. Over the past 5 years or so, there has been an explosion of companies in the tailored menswear segment. From online only Made to Measures, to Italian labels with impressive credentials and equally impressive price tags, to a flood of cheap, fused garments from Asia toted simply as 'wool suits'. All have their merits I guess. However, it is getting increasingly difficult for a consumer to understand what they are getting and why something costs what it does. With Coppley you are getting a great, Canadian made, garment at a fair price. Take for example that to make a Coppley coat there are 127 steps in the sewing and pressing process all done by an operator skilled at the specific job. You get fabrics from some of the best mills including Zegna, Lora Piana, REDA, Vitale Barberis Canonico and fellow IAG company Holland and Sherry. Upon visiting them I took note that the amount of fabric they carry is staggering. Ranging from 13 ounce flannel for winter to beautiful, breezy silk, wool, & linens for summer and everything in-between. You get a suit with a half canvas (see picture) construction that gives their garments a lovely lapel roll and durability and Bemberg linings that are both sumptuous and durable both come standard. By increasing the breadth of silhouettes they offer - from fuller, more traditional styles to more modern ones with slimmer fits - they offer something to flatter any figure and taste. Their Accumeasure and Made to Measure programs not only help the hard to fit but also open up a whole host of little details that go miles toward making a garment that is unique to the wearer. Whether you would like a more traditional 2 button, single-breasted suit with a double vent, or perhaps something a bit more radical such as an all patch pocketed, 3 roll 2 with a quarter lining and pick stitching they have the ability to make it. With suits starting at $895.00 they offer great value and with their seasonal in-stock program customers are allowed to order a suit or sport jacket with unique customizations (in stock sizes) for the same price as they would pay for something off the rack - and they will deliver it within 7 working days.

(A table full of canvas chest pieces)

(Paper patterns ready to be turned in to suits and sport jackets for customers)

(Shaping the lapel of the jacket)

Their construction, findings, and fabrics put Coppley in the same range as many coveted 'high-end' Italian brands that tout their name and their questionable heritage over substance and quality. In my ever growing wardrobe I am lucky enough to own some Coppley and it is easily the best constructed and most comfortable of the garments I own. Some people I have talked to seem to think their suits pricey, but they are not comparing apples to apples. They have been convinced through marketing of a brands attributes, and I guess that I what I am trying to do here too. I will not tell you that a Coppley suit will make you more handsome to prospective partners or more successful in your business dealings (though it couldn't hurt). What I can tell you with upmost confidence is that you will have a garment that you will be able to wear with head held high and that will last a good many years with proper care. In a world that is increasingly disposable, your Coppley suit (or sport jacket for that matter) will become a dependable old friend, year after year.

Jason Byron Reynolds

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