With Scabal in Saarbrucken
While too many producers were closing down European production plants and racing to some low-cost country or other, the luxury cloth brand Scabal decided to maintain its factory in Saarbrucken, which it has controlled since 1989. The unit, originally known as Tailor Hoff, now produces more than 40,000 sleeved garments a year (that is suits, jackets and coats), plus about 6,000 additional pairs of trousers and however many waistcoats are ordered. The factory makes all Scabal’s made-to-measure orders, other special orders and a large part of its main ready-to-wear tailoring collection.
The guides for my tour of this impressive factory were Jerome Stefanski, who looks after Scabal’s communications, and Mario Arcuri, the company’s technical director. Some 180 people work at the site and 60% of the manufacturing staff are French women who cross the border into Germany every day, a practice that started in the 1970s when the deutschemark pay rates were better than those of the franc.
What’s remarkable about the unit is that it handles a huge variety of different tailoring challenges, rather than just producing the same item over and over. Scabal’s made-to-measure programme offers an amazing 200 style and personalisation options across an astounding 4,000 cloths from Scabal’s range.
A computer-based system issues a separate docket for every stage of every order. The jacket and their sleeves are made separately.
The jacket interiors (linings, pockets etc) go down one line, while trousers are sewn on another, and waistcoats in another area. Given that there are probably more than 100 separate components in a suit, the organisational skills at Saarbrucken are mightily impressive.
All the elements are moved round the site on a hanging trolley system, which includes a series of jaws that clutch the cut cloth, linings, trimmings etc.
Scabal does produce some fused jackets for a few private label clients, but most of the high-quality production is with sewn canvases. A higher-grade make will also be offered from early in 2013. www.scabal.us
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