Yesterday, after nearly ten years I went out and bought a new Barbour jacket — a classic waxed cotton Bedale model. I have had one since 1993. I had bought it in a thrift shop, back in the day when life was simpler because all my decisions were made for me — by lack of money.
I never got rid of it, mostly out of nostalgia, but primarily because it was just fine. When I got sick, it became very loose and as a result I had to get rid of it. (It was also falling apart.) I tried their two new models, but they don’t quite do the job here in San Francisco — one is too warm, one is too light. They are sitting at the back of my closet.
This one is just the right weight, and it has what matters in the end — quality!
If my past experience is any indication, then this is going to last another ten-to-fifteen years, but it is one of those things which get better in time. Actually, when I was airing the jacket, I realized that there is some repeat behavior — I love brands which are classic, and have a certain level of workmanship which is getting rare in our mass produced world.
I love my moleskine notebooks, the Montblanc pen, Church’s brand of boots and good ole J.Crew chinos. I have come to embrace the Lucky Brand jeans and some of the newer shirt brands, but I almost always default to old favorites — Gitman Brothers and Brooks Brothers.
To me quality has to be enduring, never about taking short cuts and always working hard to ensure that the expectations are always met. In the end, that is what defines the bond between a company and its customers. That is the only relationship that stands the test of time.
I remember reading this little paragraph from a recent story in the New York Times about Hermes and nodding to myself, and going BING!
“There is a part of our world that is playing on abundance, on glitz and glamour,” Patrick Thomas, the Hermès’s chief executive. “And there is another part that is concentrated on refinement, and basically making beautiful objects.” Hermès counts itself among the latter, and it wants to stay that way. “We don’t want to be a part of this financial world which is ruining companies and dealing with people like they are goods or raw materials,” said Mr. Thomas, the first chief executive at Hermès who is not a member of the family. “It’s not a financial fight, because we would lose that. It’s a cultural fight.”
In the end it is about embracing a certain kind of culture and sticking to it. I guess that also explains why I do love my Apple products.