There’s a certain tension in this blog.
On one level, we’re promotional–at least in general terms. We showcase companies who continue to manufacture classic styles domestically. While there’s no remuneration for that work, we’re passionate about it.
But we’re also consumers. And so we approach what we buy with a critical eye.
Where promotion and criticism come into conflict, we have to err on the side of criticism. To promote products and makers who do not live up to a reasonable standard of quality would be a disservice to what meager readership we have.
A recent experience is illustrative.
When I first discovered Chicago-based Peter Field, I was excited to learn that the company, which has only been a going concern for a few years, manufactures all of its wares in the United States, many of those in house.
The company offers ties, pocket squares, bags, portfolios and various leather goods.
A good glen check tie is my white whale. It’s been years since I found one to my liking, and, in a bit of misplaced parsimony, I declined to purchase it at the time.
So when I saw that Peter Field was offering a couple of different varieties for sale, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I opted for the Syderstone tie. It’s a wool black and white plaid with a red overcheck.
For a mere $10 more, Peter Field will customize your tie (which the website says takes between seven and ten days). Being the traditionalist that I am, I opted for a 3.5″ width, a bit broader than the company’s standard 2.75″ width.
I ordered my tie on September 16th. On September 29th, I called to check on the status of my order. Since the tie had not already been sent, I asked for them to delay shipping until October 6th, as I was going to be out of town for nearly a week. They graciously agreed. On October 14th, with the tie not yet in hand, I called again to check on the status of the order. Apparently, they had mistakenly noted October 13th as the shipping date.
When the tie arrived, it was less than satisfactory. It did not adequately taper up from its widest part, resulting in excess fabric both around the knot and along the collar. This made the tie impossible to conceal around the neck once the collar was folded down. It was a rookie mistake–as if they simply took one of their narrow ties and expanded it proportionately, even when those proportions violated the basic tenets of tie shape and design.
So I contacted Peter Field with pictures comparing the tie with an existing tie from my collection. Three days later I heard back. They agreed that some adjustments needed to be made and asked if I could pin or tape the tie where it was too wide.
I was a little taken aback; was I really being asked to guide a tiemaker on the particulars of constructing a tie? Instead of subjecting the process to the inconsistencies of my pinning acumen, I sent an existing tie (one compromised by an intractable stain) to serve as a template.
In the same e-mail, I was promised a return UPS or FedEx label within 24 hours. Why one couldn’t have been sent with that original e-mail was beyond me. Regardless, three days transpired before I was e-mailed the label.
So how is the tie?
In a word, adequate. The fabric and pattern are nice, but the construction is less than perfect; it seems more the product of someone just learning the craft. It also knots a little idiosyncratically, but that actually gives it a bit of charm.
It saddens me to have to say this, but I’m afraid we have to deny Peter Field our recommendation. They are, in my opinion, neither competent to deliver a adequate product without significant guidance nor capable of handling customer service concerns in a timely fashion (or at least not in as timely a fashion as they promise).