Better Deal - Optimo or VS

Discussion in 'Hats' started by wgiceman, Jul 29, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. hatsRme

    hatsRme I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,432
    Location:
    Boston area
    I own a few VS, and have only been to the Optimo southside store to try touch, see, feel, try on, etc. There is absolute value in being able to stop by a store for this purpose. I can appreciate what Graham is providing in that respect, as well as a great hat.

    As for the quality differences I found; these hats (from either Art OR Graham) are both like pizza or sex. Even the "lousy" ones are excellent!
     
  2. wine65

    wine65 One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    151
    Location:
    Texas
    This is one of those threads that you know you need to stop reading but just can't help yourself...
     
  3. alanfgag

    alanfgag

    Messages:
    13,703
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    I find it great exercise to write a reply and then not post it. Have done that three or four times for this thread and I've not bought a new hat from either source.
     
  4. frussell

    frussell One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,394
    Location:
    California Desert
    delectans, perhaps you could enlighten me as to what part of your post was "gentlemanly?" I'm not sure implying that two fellow Lounge members are less than classy follows the tone of your reply. Just a thought, Frank.
     
  5. Geldoc

    Geldoc One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    290
    Location:
    North Carolina, USA
    Alan, that's a Zen like response.
     
  6. I do similar with emails. If my Drafts folder could only talk. I too have typed up numerous quick replies only to hit cancel....like counting to 10...
    Bottom line, no established basis for "value" to use to determine "better deal"....too subjective eval of end products...Next!
     
  7. animator

    animator One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    231
    Location:
    Seattle
    We sure are fortunate to have both these great hat makers as options. I have wonderful hats that I cherish from one and hope to have hats from the other in the future. And the list of fantastic hat makers doesn't end with these two. We should count our blessings!

    Thanks to both VS and Optimo for all the happy customers who have been kind enough to share pictures of their hats with the rest of us!
     
  8. 1961MJS

    1961MJS My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,017
    Location:
    Norman Oklahoma
    HI Alan

    Same here, not on this thread cause I don't own either, but elsewhere. In some cases, I've written, re-written, deleted, and re-written, and still not sent. I guess it beats the heck out of paying a therapist.

    Later
     
  9. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    4,067
    Location:
    The Beautiful Diablo Valley
    Where is the original poster who asked the question? Perhaps they are just kicking tires? In any event, pretty good discussion.

    Where do I start? Well, I have been here a long time, not too much lately. A lot of you don't know me, even though I have been around the place for coming up on 10 years.

    I have both Optimo and V.S. hats. Both straw and felt. Maybe 20 Optimos, and 7 or so felts and some straws from Art. Now that doesn't count the actual vintage hats I have picked up from Art when he was in the movie costume business. And he didn't work from home, he had a very big brick and mortar shop. Actually he had one when I met him, then he moved to a bigger place..and then he semi retired and moved up north.

    Optimo. I bought some of Grahams' first hats, when he was starting out. Graham used to call me at home personally to see how I liked the hat. Maybe his first "color" hat box is collectable now...they are all the signature black now. I flew to Chicago, and spend 3 days being shown about and dined by Kevin and Graham. His shop was smaller (before the remodel), and he didn't have the downtown location then. Graham comes to California occasionally for a trunk show..and I have met him in SF and Menlo Park...

    Which hat would I buy? Well, both are excellent. For the money, go with VS. You can have a fine hat that will last a very long time, and it is custom made for you. Art's hats rival the vintage, actual VINTAGE hats.

    That said. For a fedora, nothing comes close to a "new old stock" 1930-1950 hat, IF it isn't soiled and mothed. Felt in those were far better. But quality. Both Art AND Graham's quality have increased by many, many times. Unfortunately, so have the prices.
    I used to buy a spectacular hat, on Ebay, vintage...for $150. That hat today is no longer available, just gone, nothing out there. They have been snapped up. My first Optimo was about $250 or so. Pretty steep then, but a bargain today. Those hats are still in excellent shape, some aren't (need blocking and cleaning). Some of my vintage hats also have gotten very bad..those need to go to Optimo for a clean and block. Optimo is the only place I'd send a vintage quality hat to have it cleaned. Art used to do it, but as quit that service. The equipment and chemicals are not worth it for a single artist guy. Optimo does it by volume (Tuesday used to be clean and block day at the shop).

    For your hat, first purchase, or just to have one...go with VS. It is an outstanding product.
     
  10. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Messages:
    4,067
    Location:
    The Beautiful Diablo Valley
    Oh, I forgot to add. I might be biased. Art and I are very good friends. Used to have regular lunches together at a nearby restaurant (El Sol)..and I spent HOURS watching Art work, building his craft. He's in my speed dial on my phone, and we are on FB as "Friends". I can attest to the certainty that if you go with a VS hat, you will love it. If there is any problem, it's going to be 100% rectified. Why? Because Art considers each hat to be a "signature" of his reputation. Quality...and authenticity is his reputation. Everyone who meets Art has a friend. A friend with talent. A friend who doesn't mind sharing his love for his craft.
     
  11. winter_joe

    winter_joe A-List Customer

    Messages:
    317
    Location:
    New Town, North Dakota
    Very good Andy! I 100 percent concur as my first custom was with art and he stayed ever so patiently and happily as I kept sending it back to get reworked by him. I had an enormous issue with trying to size my head properly and he helped me all the way through with that as well, I consider art a very good friend of mine.
     
  12. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

    Messages:
    13,719
    Location:
    USA
    Another common pitfall of the remote purchase model which is not an issue with a purchase from a brick and mortar hatter.
     
  13. hatsRme

    hatsRme I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    9,432
    Location:
    Boston area
    Hi, Joe;
    I can't help but be curious as to how and why the conformer approach Art uses didn't work. I haven't heard of this happening before, and can't imagine how it failed. What happened?
     
  14. rlk

    rlk I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,100
    Location:
    Evanston, IL
    You have to put the conformer in the correct position with appropriate tightness--not so easy on oneself....
    Some head shapes are more forgiving on this precision.

    I had a first time issue that wouldn't have happened if Art had done the conforming(and my semi-conical cranium).
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  15. bowlerman

    bowlerman I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,766
    Location:
    South Dakota
    OT: I wonder if I may have done something similar. The fit of my VS is almost "too perfect" if that makes any sense. Not ultra tight, but hugs enough that it's basically immobile on my head.
     
  16. wgiceman

    wgiceman One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    159
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    I am really enjoying the feedback/education provided here. I actually selected a couple of hats at Optimo, but wanted to check out Art's product. The pricing structure for the VS hat is definitely better for me. It seems that Art favors the higher and fuller crowns, as in the vintage hats. While at Optimo, Tiffany tended to steer me toward the lower crown hats. I made the mistake of not trying on the higher crown styles and doing a comparison. I am a tall guy with a slender build, so it seems that the pinched front, center dent style complements me better. But the lower crowns feel like they sit too high on my head. Perhaps I can give Art a call and get his recommendation.
     
  17. I don't want my hats mobile on my head. Sounds like you got the custom fit you need Jeff.
    I don't want a gust of wind sending me chasing after a nice hat down the road...
     
  18. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

    Messages:
    13,719
    Location:
    USA
  19. Rabbit

    Rabbit Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,319
    Location:
    Live from Somewhere
    It's interesting that you mention Tiffany at Optimo steering you toward the lower crown hats. I've never been at Optimo's, but from what I could gather Optimo does tend to emphasize slightly lower crowns (meaning either 5 1/2" open crowns with rather rounded crown roofs, or open crowns of maybe 5 3/8", just a bit lower than 5 1/2"), and they also seem to favor more moderate hatband widths in the range of 16-19 ligne (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches) for a "hat with wide hatband", rather than the 22 ligne width which was quite common on pre-war hats. Just as a tendency, of course.
    This may result in different advice of the two hatters on what constitutes a suitable hat for a given customer, as I mentioned before in this thread. Maybe the advice with regard to brim width would differ as well? That would be rather interesting to know.
    I believe that Optimo's tendency for the lower crowns is partly because the majority of their clientele favors the more "modern" look, and partly because Graham started his shop with the equipment of a retired hatter at the same location who in turn had started his business in the 1950s. By now, Graham has stocked up quite well on all block heights and shapes, as RLK explained (thank you for the information, Robert).

    Art obviously favors pre-WWII looks. You'll see lots of full crowns among his customers' hats with very little taper, lots of hats with 22 ligne (= 2 inch) hatbands, and lots of hats with only moderate flanging, quite unlike the high-flanged brims that were common in the 1950s.

    Personally, what sold me on Art's offerings was his emphasis on pre-WWII looks, the felt dyes offered (which is the regular Winchster felt plus some special dyes, and now the lightweight Winchester felts once again, after a production hiatus), and the price/quality ratio. I'm also crazy about his colored liners, especially the red and the royal purple. :)

    Optimo and VS complement each other very well, if you have the cash. So many differences in their offerings...
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  20. DJH

    DJH I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,339
    Location:
    Ft Worth, TX
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.