Gordon Davidescu wrote this article.
Normally, when I am enveloped in a retail experience, I can hardly say
that I am overwhelmed by the service. I am not all too fearful that
things might go badly, but I do not expect to be overwhelmed either. As
long as the people in sales are moderately awake when I arrive, and
occasionally try to answer questions with more than a grunt, I am
Recently, my dear friend Joe Rich took Elizabeth and me to see a play
for her birthday. There was plenty of time before the play and so we
decided to take a little stroll. We happened upon a store I had never
seen before called Pink, That’s Thomas Pink, an exclusive retailer that
was founded in London in 1984 that generally caters to the sort of
people that don’t mind paying upwards of one hundred dollars for a tie
and nearly two hundred dollars for a dress shirt. Interestingly enough,
the shop has remarkably few options – it’s not a shop where you can buy
any sort of clothing but rather a limited set; that limited set happens
to be quite well done.
Almost immediately upon entering the
store, we were greeted by a man who called himself Julio. He was soft
spoken and yet got directly to the point when necessary. That would
show itself to a larger degree a bit later. Joe and I were looking at
powder blue dress shirts. We were in the casual section and we wanted a
dress shirt for Joe. Julio took us all over to the dress shirts. While
we were perusing the different dress shirts, Joe suddenly exclaimed,
“Get this man a white shirt!”
Let’s backtrack just a little bit.
When I was living in Seattle, I had a large collection of white shirts,
none of which I ever wore except for on a few occasions. For the most
part, they sat in my closet, unworn. When it came time to move, I made
the decision not to take them with me except for a few. I obviously
must have chosen the wrong few because when I got here, there were a
couple of white shirts that no longer fit me. Have I gotten taller in
the last four years? It is something that I mentioned on and off around
Joe, and he must have taken notice of it.
Julio asked me what
shirt size I wore. I told him that I was a 34 / 17. I answered that
because of the white shirts that I had, they are 34 and 16 and 16.5
respectively, and they both felt just a bit snug in the neck area when
putting on a tie. This is where Julio’s pointed nature came out. He
snapped, “No!” and said that there was no way that I was a 17. A 16 at
most, he said. He pushed a shirt on me, a 16, and directed me to the
dressing room where I was to try it on. After I put the shirt on, he
took two fingers and put them under my collar to show me how roomy it
“You wear a shirt under your shirts?” he asked. I knew that
Joe had a habit of wearing a white t-shirt under his dress shirts. The
effect of wearing the white shirt under the dress shirt is to keep the
dress shirt from getting disgustingly sweaty. “No,” I said, because
that was not something that I ever did. I always thought of it as a way
to get hotter than you would be if you weren’t wearing the shirt.
He repeated himself. Actually, there’s a slight variation. Julio emphatically stated (this was not a question this time), “You will
wear a shirt under your shirts.” Again, it was not a question, it was a
statement. He was telling me that if I was to consider wearing their
shirts, I would not have the option of sullying them with my heavy
perspiration. That was out of the question.
A size sixteen and a
half shirt was found with French cuffs. So we compromised about the
neck a little bit. (I like to breathe now and then.) I looked at their
various cuff links but didn’t really like a lot of them. I asked them
if there were others but there weren’t. I mentioned to Julio that I saw
some French cuff links at Banana Republic that I really liked; they had
a set of bulldogs on them. He responded that they certainly were not
Banana Republic and said Banana Republic in a certain tone. It was the
very same tone, my mother later pointed out to me, that I used to use
when talking about my lack of desire to enter K-Mart. Everything is
relative, she said.
A few days later, I ended up going to Banana
Republic and buying the cuff links that I wanted, at a price that was
about one fifth of the price of the cuff links at Pink – and with the
cute bull dogs that I liked. The retail experience there was quite
different. I strained to get anybody’s attention and I only did when I
practically jumped and waved at someone. I asked about the cuff links
and he pointed me towards them. When I got to the cashier at Banana
Republic I said, “Eat your heart out, Pink.”
Of course, I wish I
had bought the bull dog cuff links at Pink. They would have actually
behaved as though they wanted me to buy them instead of sulking around
the store. Banana Republic was not the worst retail experience I have
had recently. That is coming in a forthcoming article, of course.
I love this article, Gordon! So you bought a $200 white shirt? What did Joe end up buying? Did Elizabeth make a purchase?
I am reminded when I went into the Burberry store in NYC to replace my dark-blue-black Burberry trenchcoat I had worn forever.
They did not have black or dark blue. They told me they never even made that color. Not true! I wish I had brought the coat with me as proof.
Anyway… they put a green trench on me… the color of the day. It looked good, but I didn’t like it because in a year or two it would look dated.
They ripped the green one off my back and replaced it with their standard camel/tan and it looked much better and timeless.
The tailor came out and measured me to make the coat a perfect fit. Burberry took care of me at every level and I waited while the alterations were made. I was in and out in 45 minutes and it was worth every cent I paid.
Joe ended up getting a nice blue shirt along with a really nice tie as a gift for a friend. Elizabeth, who was still waiting for her first check at that point and in any case was not particularly interested in their selection. I actually didn’t see any women’s clothing in there – I think they specialize in men.
Last night we went to Banana Republic and were met with some of the worst service ever. First it took forever and a day to get anyone’s attention. Then when we asked for the location of a particular coat we were told they would have to check in their storage area. After we checked around for a little longer ourselves we actually found the coat.
Wow, a tailor! My grandfather on my mother’s side was a tailor. I love a good fit though I feel that I should lose a *little* more weight before I get anything made for “my size”
The Pink website seems to suggest they have women’s clothes, too, Gordon:
I think Banana Republic has some really nice stuff. I also like the German Esprit stores. Lovely designs there.
I was surprised by Burberry’s elite customer service. A good tailor will know how to “make room” as you age and grow into anything — so don’t sweat the getting smaller stuff. SMILE!
Well, look at that. Awesome web site. I guess I was so focused on our own needs that we didn’t even think about if Elizabeth wanted anything!
I keep thinking back to an article you wrote about how buying one pair of expensive shoes is better than buying five pairs of cheap shoes in the long run. Do you know the article I mean?
I think you owe Elizabeth a $200 white shirt, Gordon!
Here’s the article about cheap shoes:
I absolutely believe we should buy things that last. Why not buy an expensive shirt or coat that will last you years instead of a single season?
I don’t think Elizabeth would ever wear a $200 white shirt. She rather enjoys shopping at Old Navy and would probably feel uncomfortable wearing something so costly. I think it has something to do with her blue collar background but of course I could be wrong.
I love that article!
Is there a difference between Old Navy and the Gap except for the higher prices at the Gap? I, too, appreciate Old Navy.
I do think, though, if you bought her a $200 shirt, she would wear it. SMILE!
Yes, the Cheap Shoes article is a favorite. I’ll never forget the YELLING!
Super article! Glad you got what you needed in both the places! Can’t wait to read the other article now 🙂
The t-shirt under the shirt is something that i used to do too… not now though, now it’s just the t-shirt!
The gap, to me, seems to have different styles. There are some things I like at Old Navy but not all. I also notice that Old Navy sweaters that Elizabeth has purchased have a tendency to fall apart more easily than similar sweaters from The Gap. When I have $200 extra I will test that theory! 🙂
I’m looking forward to writing it, Dananjay. I love your new style! Hark, the casual feel.
PINK have an excellent reputation. Oh to be able to make use of it!
Do they have any brochures there? I love perusing them.
Lovely article Gordon!
I always prefer to buy good quality clothes and shoes – quality matters more than quantity!
Congrats for the $200 white shirt, it’s worth it!
I still haven’t worn it because I have been going away for Shabbos to Teaneck and I don’t want to wear it there – and I still don’t have the requisite undershirt! 🙂 That’s an entirely different article.
Eagerly waiting to read it!