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How much to pay a tailor on staff


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#1 nlieb

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 12:07 PM

I work for a MTM firm and all of our tailoring is done by outside contractors (Skip something for the shirts, John H Daniels for the suits, some random dude in Como for our ties). I want to take most of this tailoring inhouse because it will a) improve quality over the mediocrities (they're not bad, really: the suits are fully canvassed) currently foisted upon us b) allow us to offer fully bespoke clothing c) give us greater freedom over what materials (ie cloth, buttons) we use for the clothing (ie we could use multicolor Thai silk in suitlinings, which would otherwise cost us extra but fits in excelently with our branding).

So I'd like to hire maybe 8 tailors, 7 young tailors, preferably half and half out of Maestro Gallo's academy in Rome and Sedwell's academy on Savile Row (perhaps a Frenchman thrown in for good measure), and one old master. I think I already have my old master: he's currently retired to doing alterations work but I know exactly how much would be needed to bring him back to bespoke (I asked). My question is, how much would be fair to pay the young tailors? I understand that one guy turning out suits couldn't hope to make more than 50k a year after expenses. A young tailor, one who just finished their apprenticeship or school program, I assume would make less. Would 40k a year with a promise to increase salary with increasing experience attract any talent whatsoever or am I gonna have to go higher than that? If higher, how much higher?

#2 Prakash Parmar

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 02:21 PM

Which currency ?

#3 nlieb

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 10:27 PM

USD. In the US, I might add.
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#4 nlieb

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 10:43 PM

I might also add that due to the recent weakening of the dollar the exchange rates aren't going to adequetly reflect the standard of living that 40k a year in Chicago would provide - unless, that is, you're doing the conversion from pounds or euros ::evil grin::. Still, 40k us would provide a vastly better standard of living in Chicago than in, say, London, where everything is roughly 4 times as expensive. It still isn't a lot, though, and I recognize that. But it's what makes the math work.

#5 ladhrann

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 03:23 AM

I might also add that due to the recent weakening of the dollar the exchange rates aren't going to adequetly reflect the standard of living that 40k a year in Chicago would provide - unless, that is, you're doing the conversion from pounds or euros ::evil grin::. Still, 40k us would provide a vastly better standard of living in Chicago than in, say, London, where everything is roughly 4 times as expensive. It still isn't a lot, though, and I recognize that. But it's what makes the math work.


Given the economic situation in particular in Italy but also the UK I imagine younger guys would have no problem taking a position at those wages. In fact if you could arrange visas, temporary accommodation on arrival, or flights home once a year you should have no trouble attracting staff. If you had a critical mass of craftsmen you could probably attract Americans to train with you as well, as travel and visas are problematic for the individual especially so if there is a language barrier.

#6 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:43 AM

40k is OK for the new tailors with good experience. Means they need to work with little supervising from the master tailor.
40k $ is like 50k Euros in Germany, cause life is cheaper in the US if a person lives reasonable. 40k equals about 2500$/month.

Besides that: there is no way to sponsor anyone for GC or work permit as a tailor unless you are big shot from maybe Italy by a big company to produce 5000$ suits of the finest. And even that sponsorship might cost 10k $ for the company.

Lucky are those ones like me who have a GC and can apply for such jobs in the U.S.

Edited by Der Zuschneider, 18 October 2012 - 05:44 AM.

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#7 nlieb

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:22 AM

I'm pretty sure it is possible to sponsor tailors for green cards, they just fall under third priority because they aren't considered critical to our national interests. As is often the case here, a good lawyer is a necessity, though.

#8 nlieb

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:26 AM

You're right, though, that I should probably check what the attorney's fees are going to be for this. I read somewhere that it'd be $1-200 a head. Big discrepency.

#9 nlieb

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:35 AM

40k is OK for the new tailors with good experience. Means they need to work with little supervising from the master tailor.
40k $ is like 50k Euros in Germany, cause life is cheaper in the US if a person lives reasonable. 40k equals about 2500$/month.

Besides that: there is no way to sponsor anyone for GC or work permit as a tailor unless you are big shot from maybe Italy by a big company to produce 5000$ suits of the finest. And even that sponsorship might cost 10k $ for the company.

Lucky are those ones like me who have a GC and can apply for such jobs in the U.S.


Also, keep in mind that Houston is cheaper than Chicago; in the same way, Chicago is cheaper than New York. Depending on the current strength of the dollar it might very well cost the same or more to live in New York City (Manhattan, in particular) than it would to live in, say, Berlin. I've lived in New York and I've been to Berlin; the prices there neither shocked nor impressed me.

#10 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:23 AM

Houston is very reasonable, Chicago is more expensive, but still you can also live reasonable in Chicago. Berlin is not too expensive unless fuel and rent.

Lawyers do not even lift their head from the desk when they hear 200$. You mean probably 2000$. LOL
Forget about sponsoring, it is a long process, expensive and difficult.
You could probably find Chinese people in Chicago they have tailoring capabilities.
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#11 jcsprowls

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:02 AM

There's way too much missing info to respond to this inquiry.

*If* you can convince the US gov't to approve you as an H1B employer, which takes many years and dollars, the attorney fees are more in the $10-15K range per person.

But, that's the least of your worries.

Are you acquiring an existing facility? Or, building new?

Edited by jcsprowls, 18 October 2012 - 08:07 AM.

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#12 jimi

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:34 AM

i am on the same page as jcsprowls. cost aside you really need to build it up slowly.
there is no cutting corners in the tailoring bushiness, it will take time.

#13 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:57 AM

There's way too much missing info to respond to this inquiry.

*If* you can convince the US gov't to approve you as an H1B employer, which takes many years and dollars, the attorney fees are more in the $10-15K range per person.

But, that's the least of your worries.

Are you acquiring an existing facility? Or, building new?


I heard that too with 10 - 15k... only big companies have the reputation to convince government and pay the fees so nicely.
Check out the Chinese in Chicago, they can sew. They might work for 30k.
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#14 nlieb

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 09:00 AM

It wouldn't be an h1b visa, it would be an e-31 visa, which doesn't have caps and to my knowlege is much easier to get since the government is deciding based on whether or not the immigrant has required skills and the employer will support them, while with an h1b they also have to assess the trustworthiness of the company and employer to avoid abuses of the system. As for the attorney fees, it really doesn't sound like you have any specific knowlege, without which I am liable to ignore you. Lawyers charge by the hour, like most professions. It really doesn't take all that long to fill out visa forms. I know how these things work. I come from a family of lawyers. If you have tried and got quoted 10000 in attorneys fees, I fear someone's been leading you around by the nose. Consider that it probably takes at most two hours to fill out these forms for someone who's done it dozens of times before. $5000/hour isn't unheard of, but if you're charging that much usually you're one of the best in your field. I don't need the best in the field to get this done. I need competance, not excellence.

Edited by nlieb, 18 October 2012 - 09:04 AM.


#15 Kevin Koch

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 09:18 AM

nlieb,

Welcome to the forum, btw. While you may have an idea what you are talking about (I'm sorry, I don't know you yet), and while I wouldn't take the advice of just anyone here, what jcsprowls posts here has, IMHO, always been thoughtful and reliable. You owe those of us tailors here who are actually working daily in the field at least that much respect, especially having just joined us. The wages you are talking about paying seem tell-tale, and to me even suspect (I'm southeast of Chicago). IF ONLY there was 40k-50k available for shops full of qualified people in this field! Then people would have reason to look into our profession! If you can make it happen, my hat off to you and I wish you many blessings!


That said, I know some well-respected Chicago tailors that I can't imagine paying that much (maybe I'm wrong, but...) and the best shops couldn't keep 8 "real" tailors supplied with bespoke work right now (I understand that is not all you plan to do). I have met some of the "Chinese" hand-finishers in the Metro area. Most of them are working for Oxford and such by day... anyway the best of luck to you.

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Kevin
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#16 nlieb

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 09:32 AM

The real problem is that there is a waiting period on the e-31 visa, anywhere between 4 months and 6 years. If I could convince the government to give tailors eb2 visas, the wait would go down substantially. Don't think they'd let me do that.

#17 nlieb

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 09:59 AM

nlieb,

Welcome to the forum, btw. While you may have an idea what you are talking about (I'm sorry, I don't know you yet), and while I wouldn't take the advice of just anyone here, what jcsprowls posts here has, IMHO, always been thoughtful and reliable. You owe those of us tailors here who are actually working daily in the field at least that much respect, especially having just joined us.

I meant no disrespect, I was really only annoyed because some of the comments above seemed to ridicule me for thinking the attorney's fees would be anything less than 10k when I know for a fact that even for a hb1 it would be less than half of that.

The wages you are talking about paying seem tell-tale, and to me even suspect (I'm southeast of Chicago). IF ONLY there was 40k-50k available for shops full of qualified people in this field! Then people would have reason to look into our profession! If you can make it happen, my hat off to you and I wish you many blessings!


Why thank you. I came here expecting to be told that my number was too low. I have enourmous respect for the profession and cannot believe that a trade in which so much skill and artistry is involved is so poorly valued. And really, I do assure you the numbers do work at 40k. At that pay level, we can actually save about 20k a year in labor costs over our mtm factory AND keep our current suit prices. As demand grows and our tailors gain experience, we would raise pay for retention's sake; perhaps we would offer customers different prices depending on what cutter and tailor they use. BTW, I assure you, eight tailors is based on my calculations of the amount of production capacity we need, not the number of tailors we can afford. We can keep them busy. I was under the impression that there was a shortage of good American tailors. I'll certainly post a help wanted add up here when the time comes. Part of the interview process, of course, would be to show me examples of the your (or whoever's) work.

#18 Der Zuschneider

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 11:43 AM

The real problem is that there is a waiting period on the e-31 visa, anywhere between 4 months and 6 years. If I could convince the government to give tailors eb2 visas, the wait would go down substantially. Don't think they'd let me do that.


Look, look there come the real problems, LOL. And there will be many other problems later. Lawyers are paid by their capability. I am sure my lawyer filed my GC papers in 3 hours, it still cost me 2000$ on the table, cause everything has its price like a suit. A master tailor works with his brain and might cost you maybe 100$/h because brain work cost more money.
Lawyers in the family can make it cheaper, that is true. It just takes a stamp on an envelope and a pen to fill in the papers and to pay fees. I was talking with the HR in Oxxford clothes, they have all the nice Chinese workers you need, they pay a nice wage with incredible nice benefit and therefore oxxford clothes is first choice for a tailor with good skills. And oxxford is hunting for tailors all the time, they cannot get enough good ones.
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