4/6/2015 UPDATE – This past weekend I was able to interact directly with Abbyshot, and not only has it changed some of my opinions about this coat, it has changed them for the better – significantly better. I’d highly recommend reading about my surprises here, either before or after reading this review. This post has also been tweaked to include new information, fix old information, and generally make a more informed opinion on the work. -TGD
EDIT: Sorry, currently having some problems loading the high resolution images. Not sure why. I’ll remove this tag when the problem is remedied. -TGD
I’ve been very happy with Abbyshot lately.
In the past, I’ve never been quite satisfied with their replicas for their price point. I’ve always found that using one of the Far East budget houses like HelloCosplay or CosplaySky gave me more options for less money.
So you can imagine my surprise last year when I started coming across their Series 7b purple coat and confused them for the real ones I had been scouting for! Impressed, I knew I would probably end up owning one eventually, but the $400 price tag made it something I had to put off.
Finally, I had the opportunity to pick one up, and it arrived the other day. With my swatches of the real fabric and some research into frock coats, I wanted to put together a full review as I haven’t really seen one before.
The big thing that the Abbyshot coat (right) has going for it is the fabric, which is the biggest problem with pretty much every other replica. The real deal was a £330 per meter exclusive cashmere twill from W. Bill in purple with a grid pattern in a slightly thicker brown slub yarn covered in bright purple, sky blue, pale blue, and red neps. Each yarn is also spun with fibers of a variety of other colors including burgundy and silver, giving the whole thing a very, very specific look and feel.
Abbyshot’s fabric was clearly created with a swatch of the real fabric as a reference. The result… see for yourself.
The colors are practically flawless; the W. Bill cashmere appears slightly lighter in these photos but in real life the actual colors are damn nearly exact – the cashmere has a higher luster so it brightens up in some lighting conditions.
Abbyshot’s fabric is 20% cashmere and 80% wool, so the feel is comparably soft though not as luxurious as the 100% cashmere in the W. Bill fabric – on the other hand, the Abbyshot fabric is probably harder-wearing for that same reason.
You’ll also notice the scale seeming a little off on the Abbyshot fabric. Something about this struck me as… odd. Being familiar with the W. Bill fabric, I decided to flip the cashmere over and look at it from the backside.
Suddenly, the scale is nearly flawless!
Since originally writing this review, I’ve been able to revisit this by observing the backside of the Abbyshot fabric – the backside of the Abbyshot fabric is a near-perfect match for the front of the W. Bill cashmere.
Eventually, I had the opportunity to talk to Abbyshot about this front/back mix-up directly. Abbyshot had every intention of tailoring the fabric correctly, but a quality control issue created a batch of coats cut and sewn with the back of the fabric facing out (though not all of them). It took a while for word to get back to them, presumably because I’m the one human being on the planet to ever notice or care (and many of the coats were cut correctly), but since being informed, they have gone out of their way to fix the problem, and all the new coats are being tailored correctly. In fact, every men’s coat on display at their booth had been tailored accurately, as had almost all of the women’s coats (see at right, a sample of two women’s coats for sale).
Moving on from the front/back concerns, the biggest difference between the two fabrics is that the Abbyshot fabric feels like the low-res version of the W. Bill fabric. Each yarn in the W. Bill fabric is distinct in the weave, and the quality of the cashmere gives it a luster not present in the Abbyshot fabric. But even if you’re doing a photoshoot with a high-quality camera and professional lighting equipment, you’re not going to be able to tell the difference unless you physically put the two fabrics on top of each other. What you will be able to tell is that the neps in the W. Bill cashmere are lighter than the neps in the Abbyshot fabric, and as such, the fabric’s flecked feel is a bit muted in the Abbyshot.
I hope it doesn’t seem like I’m ragging on the Abbyshot fabric. Don’t get me wrong – the fabric is so good that it would be near impossible to improve it for the same price point. It would have to cost two or three times the price to make a more accurate fabric, and you’d have to literally touch the two together to even notice.
Beyond the beautiful work on the fabric, unfortunately the rest of the Abbyshot has a few inaccuracies.
The corduroy collar is great but not perfect. The corduroy is slightly too burgundy – it should just about match the purple in the main fabric, only slightly darker, but the wale count is extremely close (The Smith wale count is at about 8 and the Abbyshot is 8.5, so it’s negligible). The lining seems to fare about the same, it’s too bright and not blue enough, but as it’s mostly hidden anyways, so that’s not a deal-breaker. It also has a number of pockets sewn in, which is very handy as the coat (correctly) is devoid of outer pockets, save a small breast pocket, so that’s a perk.
The real coat is a very standard frock coat pattern, very fitted, with vented sleeves and twelve buttonholes but no buttons (six buttonholes on each side).
The Abbyshot interpretation is good but not great. Its cuffs are not vented, and the back of the coat needs work. The back panels and side panels aren’t shaped as well as they could be, and the rear vent is too high (it should start at about the height of the waist seam). It’s about as fitted as you can expect for a garment not made-to-measure, but it’s cut for the largest common denominator in the size range, so it’s a little boxy and lacks the shape of Smith’s. The cut and shape of the collar and lapels, on the other hand, looks excellent, as well as the buttonhole placement and size.
I’m 5’10”, a 38″ chest with an 18″ shoulder measurement, and the S fits me like a glove. I originally purchased a M, fearing that the shoulders would be too small on the S, but since originally posting this review I was able to try one on and it fits marvelously. The sleeve length and width is excellent, the coat has a snug, fitted feel despite being mass market, and the shoulders are exactly as they should be. The waist seam and hemline fall exactly where they should be.
It will take some reworking to get it to look exactly the way I want it to, but it’s a decent attempt at a frock coat. I’ve seen far worse. I’ll be perfectly content wearing it unaltered for a while.
Originally, I gave this replica a “solid B,” but after figuring out the fabric issue and trying on a coat that actually fit me correctly, I feel compelled to upgrade it to an A-. The work put into the fabric is exemplary, though unfortunately the pattern could stand to be tweaked. I’ll still be modifying mine once I can exchange my M for a S, but overall, if you can’t afford to modify the coat (or simply can’t be bothered), you’ve got a damn solid close-enough from Abbyshot.