The world has changed. I knew this, but an excellent program on Al Jazeera about Marco Polo brought this to mind. This happened on a day that I ordered some new clothes from my Italian tailor.
The man travels to meet my son-in-law, who is Italian and needs many suits for his job. We both like Italian fabrics and appreciate workmanship that is better than one can buy off the rack. Today, the tailor mentioned that he will travel to China to service new customers. There is a lot of money is China, and demand for good Western products and services is high. Italian fabric and tailoring are popular, as are German cars and French wine.
The change I mentioned above has to do with fabric. At the time of Marco Polo, people in the west sought silk from China. Now, the flow of expensive fabric is in the other direction.
The tailor I use flew in from Italy to take orders.
That sounds pretentious, but it is not. Well, perhaps a bit, but Italians make the best fabrics and are good tailors. They can do things with wool that no one else can. Most people will never touch such cloth, so are unable to judge the quality or the price/value ratio. The guy has many customers among bankers in Frankfurt, so he does not travel just for me. That would be prententious...and expensive
The first time I had a suit made was during R&R in Bangkok, oh so many years ago. Being from a lower middle class background, I chose the cheapest fabric. Later, I had suits made in Germany, again not being aware of the need to select good fabric. I had blazer made in Hong Kong, which was neither good quality fabric nor good tailoring. I learned about Italian fabric late in life, but still young enough to waste money and enjoy the effort.
I can usually buy clothes off the rack, because I am a standard size. That said, tailored clothes do fit better.
I do not need anything, but a new item of clothing can be nice. Anything I buy will spend most of the time hanging in my closet, because I do not dress up much. When I do, I look elegant. Mostly, I wear track suits. Still, nice clothing made of Italian fabric is a treat...
I do have enough neckties, which I rarely use. I was not tempted from the wide selection, but the display did make a nice playground...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.