Not everything always works out the way we’d like. And not always can we find a satisfying solution to the problems which arise along the way.
This situation is somewhat difficult to write about. I waited several weeks with writing and publishing this post, as I wanted to do it calmly and with some distance. Talking about situations like this one when everything’s still fresh and emotions are running high, serves nobody.
It began when an employee of Poznań menswear brand, Miler, offered to make an MTM suit for me free of charge to test their new service. After talking a few times, we set the date for me to come to Poznań to place the order. The base of the suit’s design was one of the most well-known products of the brand, their RTW Phoenix suit, which was the try-on garment for the order. We decided on some changes in the jacket: it was supposed to be 3-roll-2 instead 2 buttons, with no shoulder padding and no lining. The sleeve was to be somewhat more narrow, especially from the shoulder to the elbow, and the armhole smaller. I chose a navy Standeven wool-mohair hopsack fabric for the suit.
Everything was fine until I received the suit sometime in the first half of December. The trousers and the waistcoat turned out very nicely, and were made according to almost all of my wishes (and there were plenty of those). The jacket, however, was completely wrong. The least of its problems was 3-button closure instead of 3-roll-2 (so all the buttonholes were finished on one side, and the lapels rolled to the top instead of the middle button). Bigger ones were a very narrow sleeve, making it difficult to bend the arm at the elbow, and not much wider than the shirt cuff at the bottom, as well as armhole larger than in the try-on Phoenix. Some weird folds also appeared below the chest. I lack high-quality photos of this garment, and these here are the only ones I have, so I hope they’ll suffice. This is how the jacket looked like when it got to me:
I contacted the Miler employee, described what was wrong, and attached the photos. I also said I thought the neccessary changes were beyond the scope of any alterations that could have been done. I heard that the jacket will most likely be remade, and I should pack this one and send it back to them. I received the jacket back in January. And I use the term “received back” deliberately, as this was the same garment, which the factory attempted to alter. So what was done: the sleeve was widened from the shoulder to the elbow, but was still very narrow at the bottom. They also added half-lining and shoulder padding. I was not satisfied, so I contacted the company again. The courier took the jacket from me once more, and the employee assured me it will be remade this time.
I waited for news. When I asked “Okay, so what’s next?”, I heard the issue is waiting for the final decision from the brand owner, Tomasz Miler. So after almost two weeks from sending the jacket back I decided to contact Tomasz directly, to come up with some kind of solution. He agreed that the jacket was beyond alterations. It would have been remade, had I been a regular customer, who paid full price for the MTM suit; since I was not, he didn’t want to spend more on ordering the fabric and remaking the jacket. So he proposed I keep the trousers and the waistcoat and we both forget about the whole issue, which basically meant I would agree not to write about it.
I decided it was not an acceptable solution. I suggested I could eg. pay for the fabric – this suggestion was ignored. I was not presented with any other option which would lead to finalising the order. Instead I heard that it went wrong because of the employees, or due to the early adaptational period of the brand’s work with the factory. In the end, Tomasz said he thought the suit was being made in order to show it on the blog just as an outfit, and not for a review. Had he known it was to be reviewed, he would not have agreed – as a rule. We didn’t reach any kind of understanding. So I just informed him I would send the trousers and the waistcoat back, and describe what occurred here on the blog – which is what I’m doing right now.
It’s clear my position is different than a regular paying customer’s. So I fully accept that I might be perceived as a fussy blogger who gets stuff for free and still complains. I won’t try to make up excuses for myself. You, the readers, are the ones who are the most entitled to the opinion here. That being said, I do have to clarify a few things.
I don’t accept free clothes to present as an outfit, or just for the photoshoot. Individual financial conditions of a project – which means full, partial or no payment – are decided only in the case of bespoke, MTM or otherwise custom order, and as a review of the service and the final product. It’s stated in my advertising policy, which is public. And it was no doubt known to the employee who arranged this project with me – because we had talked about this policy several times before. And – this was confirmed by Tomasz – this employee was given all necessary authorisation to make such arrangement with me. Plus, the Miler shirts I’ve shown on the blog were not given to me free of charge – I bought them. With a bit of an exception of the white OCBD shirt, which I received, well, for the review (it happened before I started the English version of the blog; on the Polish one, it’s here). I liked it enough to keep it, so I paid for it after publishing the review.
This policy stems from the fact that any custom order bears a greater degree of risk than buying RTW clothes. And it allows me to do interesting projects – reviews of various brands and artisans who make custom clothing. Otherwise I would likely stick to the makers I already know and have tried. At the same time, I never hide the conditions on which this kind of projects happen from the readers. And I believe all this is with some benefit to the readers – you can see the product and the service in a different context than the brand’s PR material, which is by its very nature further from objectivity.
Speaking of risk: I’m acutely aware things may go wrong in custom orders. This is clear to anyone who’s had even minimal experience with bespoke or MTM. So it is not a dealbreaker for me that the jacket was made wrong – everyone makes mistakes. What is important, is how these mistakes are dealt with. It’s obvious that for a company making the garment free of charge, fixing such a mistake will be more costly – so I offered to share this cost. I wanted to see the final product and be able to judge how good it is, independently from the problems which arose along the way. I was not granted this opportunity, unfortunately.
It is highly probable that this situation is not representative of the vast majority of Miler MTM orders. After all, the RTW products of this brand I own are of good or very good quality. I have no problems with the work of the employees. And this order, despite ideally being a simulation of a regular MTM order, differs from the experience a regular paying customer would have. It is not my intention to vilify the brand; to be honest, I would prefer to forget about the whole issue and leave it be. I do, however, think it is fundamentally unfair towards my readers to forgo a review just because some troubles arise. This would indeed make a review no different than an advertisement.
Of course, you are the ones to judge.