Nothing is more rewarding than seeing how PS readers engage with requests and ideas. 

In an age of ever-quicker, ever-shallower content – where everyone advises you to write only the short, social and sharable – you all take the time to contribute. 

The response to the readership survey, which I’d long planned but only found time for in November, was particularly nice in that regard. 

Almost 2,500 people filled it out, in the space of a week. That was a response rate of over 40% – in an industry where the standard is around 2%. 

This post is an opportunity to say thank you, and to share some of the results. And also most practically, to talk about the changes we will be making as a result of what you said. 

First, who are you? 

The average Permanent Style reader is 42. He works in a wide range of professions, but the most common are media, finance and the law. 

His average income is £130k ($170k). 

That’s more than I expected – I know there are lots of wealthy readers and well-off professionals, because I meet them and hear about them ordering bespoke. But I thought there was also a long, long tail of young readers that aspire to much of the clothing, but can’t afford it. 

That’s the mean average though, which will be pushed up by the top end of the range (a £50k difference is more likely at the top than at the bottom). The median average, what the middle reader earns, is £86k. 

That average reader also says they spend £1430 a quarter on cloths – almost £6000 a year. And if my experience is anything to go by, there’s a tendency to underestimate (there’s always a little self-delusion involved!).

I suspect there’s a big section of readers that buys lots of quality RTW clothing, with some bespoke or made to measure. Because while only a minority said they buy more bespoke than non-bespoke tailoring, the majority buy some clothing either bespoke or MTM.

Most readers love the Permanent Style website and are happy with it as the primary way of communicating. Second most popular was the newsletter, and only 28% prefer to consume PS on Instagram. 

That’s reassuring, given how many people today focus just on social media. And let’s face it, most of what we write – its depth, its references and links – wouldn’t work on another platform. 

The questions about outside interests were mostly for advertisers rather than editorial direction, but it was good to see most people say they didn’t want coverage of anything apart from clothes (despite me failing to provide a ‘None’ option!).

I was surprised, though, to see food as the top area readers were passionate about apart from clothing. Next was travel (56%), with watches and cars only coming third and fourth. 

Most gratifying of all – personally, emotionally – was that 95% of respondents said they thought Permanent Style had more credibility than other fashion sources. 

And powerfully, the vast majority would spend more on PS-featured products as a result. 

However, the suggested improvements to PS were a little embarrassing. 

Fully 30 people said they would like to see a page where all the articles were listed, chronologically. 

This exists, and has always existed. It’s linked to on the homepage, just above the footer. There’s a wide button saying ‘View all posts’. The URL is permanentstyle.com/archive

That button is clearly not visible enough. I’ll change it in the coming weeks, and tell everyone when that improvement (and everything else) has been done.

Other top suggestions for improvements were:

  • Better formatting on comment alerts
  • Bigger imagery on newsletters
  • A new-story alert function
  • Filters on the search results page
  • A way to ask reader questions unconnected to posts
  • A re-stock alert on the shop site

Some of these are easy and will be done quickly. Others will take more time. 

A few – like the reader question idea – I’m in two minds about. I do see why it would be good to submit reader questions that aren’t attached to a post. 

But also, if several questions were answered in one post (or video) they would be harder to categorise find in the future. And readers have also said they want it to be easier to find relevant comments. 

Perhaps that’s something to take up more interactively in the future – with me suggesting a new piece of functionality, and canvassing opinion on how it should work.

I was reassured that so many readers thought Permanent Style should fund itself primarily through selling products as well as advertising. 

I think I’ve been very open about the fact that the shop will always remain small, and niche. But it is an effective way of funding what we do, so the support there is nice. 

Overall, PS is clearly on the right track – while still having lots of things to improve.

This has always been a very opinionated, editorially driven website. We’re not going to change direction just because a new cohort of visitors says we should. But, I also want to provide coverage the core readership wants, in the manner they want. 

This has been an incredibly useful experience. Thank you all, again. 

Oh, and congratulations to Tom Mendel! 

Tom won the prize of £500 shop credit, and promptly spent it on shirts and knitwear. I hope they give you long years of enjoyment, Tom.

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Gab

Interesting. I consider myself well-off, but I am still way below average. I guess one of your challenges will be not to be influenced by these figures, consciously or not, and keep on assessing items in the mid to upper ranges – still higher end but affordable by non Goldman Sachs executives.

Anonymous

Exactly my thoughts👍

Hristo (STEMESO Socks)

I am also horrified to be below the average income.
Good that I am still young, but this should not be used as an excuse. 😀

Anonymous

Worth remembering that the PS average is around 4x higher than the UK average, Its not a competition or something that should be ‘excused’.

Being below the PS average myself I do hope that this figure does not dissuade the author from covering ‘affordable’ items still. There is a danger that for the below average reader regular viewing of this site could encourage a negative emotional response by means of a skewed sense of achievement or self worth. Much as the mental health issues associated with viewing peoples curated ‘best lives’ on Instagram it should be noted that affording an £8000 pound coat is not a good benchmark by which to judge ones self worth. Remember, stay grounded and that happiness cannot be found purely through material goods or wealth.

Daniel

Good Morning Simon,

Really interesting to see these results. I’m certainly no where near on the yearly income or my annual spend on clothes though I’m certain I’ll continue to read enjoy your blog every week. No surprise about the credibility result. The integrity of your blog shines through.

Looking forward to the February pop-up.

Daniel

Best wishes

Anonymous

We all spend more than we should, but enjoy doing so….. but hopefully in a comparatively sustainable way with clothes shoes and accessories that will last years.

Keep up the good work!

Matthew

Robert

Median income probably more useful

Anonymous

To give a median is useful, but only if you also give the range.

Hristo (STEMESO Socks)

With stuff that is far off of the normal distribution, median is more useful. With stuff that is closer to the normal distibution, mean is fine. And income is not even close to a normal distribution. If Jeff Bezos fills in his income, the mean will become a ridiculously high number.

James Saldivar

Thank you, Simon, for sharing the survey’s results, they’ve given me pause for reflection. When challenged by readers in the past on the affordability of much of what you recommend, you’ve put forward the argument that by buying less junk and saving a little longer, good clothing should be within the reach of most people. And just as importantly, ‘good’ clothing represents a much better investment of money overall.

As a result, I’ve ordered RTW from brands such as Aero Leather, Incotex, Crockett and Jones, Gloverall, Blackhorse Lane, and Drakes. It is true to say that I have developed an appreciation for quality as a result of both reading and owning, and have now begun influencing my friends – just yesterday advising a friend to buy C and J as his first proper shoes, and to wait and save if he can’t afford it right now.

However, other friends have argued that spending £135 on a tie or £200 on jeans is madness and represents a ‘problem’. I’ve been aware for some time that by reading your blog (in particular) and others, the idea of spending hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds on a single item of clothing has become normalised for me. What I am now pondering, given that my fellow readers and commenters earn on average up to three times what pretty much anybody I know earns (including myself), is whether this normalisation is, in fact, not helpful to my own reality.

I’m 29, a gigging musician and piano teacher and live in Cardiff, for context. Most people I know have limited throwaway income due to having families, mortgages etc etc.. and if your recommendations are actually more for what some would consider the “1%”, I hesitate to continue to evangelise to us poorer folk things such as the importance of buying shirts made to measure or bespoke (as I have been, passionately). There is something to be said for living within one’s means after all, and as I highly doubt I shall ever come even vaguely close to earning what your average readership does (currently on approx £30,000/year) I’m wondering how helpful developing a taste for the ‘finer things’ really is. Perhaps the pursuit of contentment would be better.

Having said that, it would be very difficult for me to stop reading your blog, as in all honesty I love it. But should I…

Jason

What thoughtful comments.
Personally I view things on a £ per wear basis. If I’m going to buy something good and wear the hell out of it then it’s money well spent.
I think that’s a yardstick than any flaneur can operate to regardless of income and an approach that fits my moral compass.
Within that context I view this site as an investigative source not as something to be slavishly channeled. If we all bought as much smutter as Simon we’d have to change three times a day and we’d be bumping into ourselves coming back from our wardrobe.

Alex

It’s a myth that expensive clothes last longer than cheap clothes.

Clothes you love last longer than clothes you don’t, regardless of cost.

Evan Everhart

There is a logical error in yr position; it is not clothes that are expensive which last longer, as arguably, relatively low quality clothing can be procured at great cost. What lasts longer, and typically does cost a bit more, is high quality clothing, made up of high quality fabric and sewn by skilled craftsmen to tasteful patterns. The cost to value ratio stands, with those sorts of garments. Furthermore, not all quality clothing needs to be particularly expensive, and I can attest to the intrinsic value of quality clothing that lasts. I still wear clothing that my Grandfather procured in the 1930s through to the 1970s, and likewise my father from the 1980s through to 1990s soon before he died. I also have clothing that my Great-Great-Grandfather made, and that is in exceptionally good condition, and is very well made. Quality lasts, as does classic style, which is a permanent thing, for any Gentleman.

Miles

Hi James,

I’m in a relatively similar boat to you. I’m 29, a freelance journalist/writer in the second largest US city, with a wage of about US $45k a year. So your comment resonates with me in a profound way. Which is why I suspect that you’ll agree with some of the below.

One of the reasons I read this blog is that it helps me reexamine my relationship to mass produced clothing. It helps me understand craft in a new way; and it helps me understand where my own current mode of consumption is broken. Since I started reading this blog a few years ago, I have noticed major drops in my impulse to buy things that won’t truly stand the test of time. All those sales get me a whole lot less excited. What gets me truly excited now are the conversations with my tailor, cleaner and cobbler every quarter. I believe they also appreciate my excitement and curiosity for their work.

To your point, I do still lust after a pair of St. Crispin’s now and then. And it has normalized the idea of spending £1300 on a pair of shoes sometime in the future. But right now, I suspect that there is a way you can relax into the contentment of owning a well made thing at a lower price point because you understand what makes it beautiful and good.

There’s also nothing more delightful than reading a factory tour on this blog and discovering something new about a thing you already own. You could call that developing a taste for ‘finer things.’ Or you can recognize it as a deepening appreciation for our world.

David

Hi James, I understand where you’re coming from with this point. When I initially started reading PS and dieworkwear, I had perhaps $1,500 that I could use without any problem. Bought some nice things after much thought – including a pair of good dress shoes and a good suit on sale. (The shoes, well taken care of, are a win win.) Now that funds are tight, I periodically buy, for example, things like a pair of Japanese denim – $250 (Sugar Cane, from the SelfEdge shop in NYC) or army chinos from the Armory. It’s worth it to me to see that the jeans, for example, will change with me over the next few years, and I really don’t need another pair. In general, it depends on how much wear you would get as a musician from bespoke or high end RTW. I also think on our income levels, after honing your eye, you’ll probably do quite well in vintage shops, with a little patience and willingness to compromise. I personally would love a Drake’s style cotton suit but will have to wait another year or two! 🙂

RT

Hi James,

Good to see a fellow citizen of South Wales on here. You make some very valid points and I understand just what you mean. I’m now in the later stages of my career, with an income roughly equal to the mean derived from the survey. I’ve been able to buy from some of the bespoke, MTM and RTW brands that have featured in articles on PS over the last few years and have enjoyed doing so. There have been a few mistakes, but many more successes and PS has introduced me to some great tailors and RTW brands, helped my understanding of make and fit (although I had some understanding from working in highish end menswear in earlier years) and given me the confidence and the vocabulary to venture into the world of bespoke tailoring. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do this comfortably within my means. However, a couple of decades ago, my situation was much more like yours, with a more modest income and with a mortgage to pay and family to support. I always enjoyed buying clothes, but ended up buying far too many things, often because I was dissatisfied with the fit or some other aspect of an item of clothing and would buy a replacement which I hoped would be better (often without success). As a result I think I wasted a lot of money and ended up with a wardrobe full of clothes that were unsatisfactory in some way and, consequently, not worn very often. In retrospect, I wish I’d had access to something like PS at the time. I’d have made better, more informed purchases and although the items would have been more expensive, I’d probably have spent less money overall.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that although I’d never advocate living beyond one’s means – we have to live responsibly – one can still acquire really good quality, stylish, durable, well-fitting clothing by budgeting carefully, saving up, doing a little research (and, perhaps, looking out for sales). You might have a smaller wardrobe, but it will be much more satisfying and, of course, you can always take that approach to creating a core wardrobe and supplementing it with less expensive items, which can be gradually upgraded and replaced with time. I really wish I’d done that when I was younger, with more modest means.

PS – there’s little in South Wales to compare with the brands and tailors featured on PS, but Hiut jeans (made in Cardigan) and Paynter jackets are well worth checking out.

Sam Storm

James, I agree that the numbers look discouraging. Closing in on 41, I make about HALF of the average income. I quite recently made the transition from (fast) fashion to a more sartorial style, so while our life situations are quite different, I can somehow relate to the situation you’re facing. If I may be so bold, I might share some of the strategies I’ve used to make my wardrobe budget work for me?

1. Buy strategically. A bespoke suit, taken care of, will look good for over 15 years (and if mended, it can be worn much longer). A bespoke white shirt, no matter how well made, will be discolored after a couple of years of regular wear. Spend your bespoke money on things that you know you will be able to wear year after year. A pair of Crocket and Jones will last for over 15 years if you replace the soles, that’s not much more expensive than buying new shoes with cheap rubber soles every 2-3 years. Combine your expensive pieces with some more affordable items of clothing. A great way to do this is:

2. Figure out where you can buy cheap(er). I’m lucky enough to have a great outlet within an hour’s travel. This has allowed me to pick up a pretty good wardrobe of Italian RTW tailoring at a considerable discount, especially during black Friday and post x-mas sales. For example, a Zegna sports coat (retail £1 500) for about £220, and several suits at a third of the retail price. Even C&J can be had at a discount during black Friday. It’s still not “cheap” by any means, but more manageable. Then…

3. Find a good local tailor! The difference between bespoke and RTW from Zara or H&M is obviously huge (both in price and quality). The difference between a good RTW suit adjusted by a tailor and a bespoke suit is still significant, but not AS significant. I bought a size 54 Zegna suit at a huge discount (I normally wear 50 long, so it was essentially a stylish tent!) My local tailor took it in significantly and it’s now the suit I get most compliments for. Total cost was still less than half of what the suit would have cost at retail price.

Combine these things and it’s possible to dress well without breaking the bank. Today’s outfit of black Italian oxfords, dark blue dressy jeans, light blue shirt with an Italian sports coat and a knitted silk tie cost a bit under £500 (so less than what some people here would spend on a pair of jeans). Retail cost would have been about £1700 – knowing when and where to shop makes all the difference. Will I win a style-off with Simon? No (does anyone?), but it’s stylish and achievable without breaking the bank. I might replace some of the pieces with custom work, but my bespoke oxfords are still being made, and bespoke jeans are pretty rare in this town. Still, pieces like that can be added over time.

I think the main inspiration to take from Simon is in the name of the site: how to dress in a timeless style, rather than the price of the specific pieces he wears.

/Sam

PS. Sorry for ranting about my own purchases, but I thought it would be useful to illustrate how one can move towards a higher quality wardrobe without taking out an extra mortgage.
PPS. All costs are converted (inaccurately) from local currency to British pounds.

Anonymous

From what I understand of the horror show that is website design, the further down the home page a thing is, the less likely that thing is to be seen by visitors to the site. There’s a lot of scrolling required to get to the “View All Posts” link – perhaps moving it to the menu below the header would solve the problem.

Although this is betraying the fact that I didn’t complete the survey, I’m curious whether you included a question on the survey-taker’s history with the site – whether they were new or existing readers, or how long roughly they had been going to Permanent Style?

JTR

All of this would be interesting to me, although this data and things like salary would be more informative, I think, as a pie chart (for example) that showed the percentages by the actual ranges folks selected (since the mean and median are fairly imprecise due to both the ranges we chose from and the other considerations you mentioned). But obviously your survey/data/site/etc, and I understand if that’s a bit more information than you want to share or too much of a burden to assemble. Thanks for the transparency in sharing what you have!

Bernd Hepberger

I’d say the income value could be a bit misleading if many of the readers come outside of the UK and the US. In most EU countries with high social insurance standards, income does not equal the amount of available cash per se. Here in Austria we pay above 50% taxes on our income, still we would give the number before tax as our yearly salary.

Anonymous

The truth is that UK readers earning the “average” PS salary will be paying very large amounts in income taxes. Although not well understood by the general public, marginal rates of taxes on earnings between £100k and £125k are as high as 62%. This then falls to 42% before rising to 47% over £150k. Overall, someone earning the PS mean income will pay just shy of 40% of total income in taxes.

Anonymous

Wow now I feel super poor! I guess though that these results will be a tremendous boon for your pitch to advertisers and thus indirectly beneficial for us poverty-stricken content freeloaders.

Alex

Bear in mind most people will have exaggerated what they earn.

In reality £130k is still wage slave territory anyway.

There’s too much money talk in the comment section of this site.

We need to focus more on beauty and joy or else we’ll always dress like carp.

a Mr Li

First comment.
Coming to think about it, it’s absolutely right that you have influenced me in where I buy all my shoes, ties and socks. I guess my Chinese new year resolution is to make it to PS’s top earners so I can let you influence in my suit, coat, bags purchase too.

JamieMcP

Oh dear I am above the average age but below the mean salary.

One interesting thing you could do is reverse IP tracing and seeing where people work.

Emerging Genius

Fair bit of angst in the comments about income and personal rankings therein. Who cares?

Life quality is more important. Build the wardrobe you love within your means, and that’s all one needs.

Mark

I am releived to discover that even in the excessive early years of upgrading my wardrobe I am below the average annual spend (but not by much). Now my purchases have dropped dramatically as I have appreciated that my wardrobe is already full of good quality items.
I would add that most of the items that I have scrimped for on my obviously (to my surprise) paupers salary has (and still gives me) a lot of pleasure and will last for years to come (and thus does not need replacement but will be managed and repaired as required).

anon

The average annual income stated for a 42 year old man with a family, mortgage, car payments, school fees and other attendant expenses can hardly allow him to spend the amount shown on clothes especially since the income is presumably in pre-tax figures and the clothing budget is post-tax. To spend that much on clothes strikes me as extremely self-indulgent.

Anonymous

Ulimately it’s a simple klick made in an anonymous internet poll. Wether you believe these figures to be true or not is down to you.

Sam

Simon,

Two thoughts on the reader question ideas:

1. Have the first and third Tuesdays as the month as a post to ask any for questions in the comments, then the second and last Tuesdays as responses to the most interesting questions
2. Have every Tuesday or Thursday (or even Saturday?) as a post responding to last week’s questions and inviting any new ones in the comments, then followup next week, etc.
3. Allow unrelated comments on posts generally, and for any that you want to specifically respond to followup with an article that addresses them that can be tagged to fit whatever categories it relates to. People can then have followup conversation in the comments.

I can see how you don’t just want it to devolve into a free-for-all style forum, so 2 seems like the more elegant solution. I think using Saturdays could be quite a nice idea, as it would be a more “conversational” sort of post for the weekend rather than the more “formal” weekday content.

Thanks,
Sam

Nicolas Stromback

Simon, was your first Savile Row suit from Henry Poole? Just browsing through the View all posts for the first time 🙂

Tom

Simon, out of curiosity, what was most surprising to you in the survey results? I understand that Google Analytics and the like are no substitute for “real” data like those you’ve collected here, but after a decade I’m sure you have a great sense of the demographics, preferences, &c. of your readership. It shows in the writing. I’m just wondering if there was something, however marginal, you didn’t expect about your readers.

Anonymous

I’m surprised that you’re surprised on salary, and not wanting to sound bitchy but… what is the average price of the suits you review? Or trousers? Or coats?

May like to read things that are aspirational but most also want some elements to be achievable (and not just socks). As the blog has progressed over the entry point has increased significantly and so average salary isn’t surprising at all… a disposable income question would have also been interesting as even being around the average salary I couldn’t afford £6k on clothes a year.

The other item that would have been interesting is if the annual spend is a small number of investment pieces or a large number of regular items.

Noel

Hi Simon,

Regarding video, I’d say it can be extremely useful in the right context. For example I’ve changed how I pack my jackets when travelling based on your packing video made with Tusting. It would have been hard to explain that in an article without a ton of pictures. When it comes to expressing an opinion or explaining things about style (such as the video with saman Amel or the one about Neapolitan vs English style) I prefer to read an article with good diagrams and pictures (such as the one you’ve written about trouser measurements)

JB

I was certainly one of the people voting for more video.
I think it’s very under appreciated how much can be said about fit and functioning details in moving format compared to pictures.

HC

Hi Simon, a blurry thought as my mind is just waking up—to address need to categorize questions unrelated to your article/posts, and for readers to find them, there may be a way for you to attach relevant keywords to a particular piece of media, like video, your replies, or replies of your readers. That way the material will appear in search results. Your web developer (they all seem to be tech geniuses) may also be able to add filters for these search results to show just your replies or those of readers. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous

A lot of readers seem to be hung up about the income of fellow readers.My advice is to forget this.Concentrate on yourself not other people be they high rollers or celebs.Think about what you want from life.It’s a waste of time fixating about other lives.Do you’re own thing.Remember real style does emanate from riches but comes from yourself…think about it…if you’ re lucky ask someone you know,whose advice you can trust.

Anonymous

I am very lucky to have earned a substantially higher annual income than the average quoted here (x 10) for many years before retiring.

The interesting thing (for me) is that, whilst I really appreciate craft, quality, rarity etc, I was never tempted to buy at the high end of the price spectrum for eg suits, shirts, shoes etc., even though I could have comfortably afforded them.

I had tailors who would make me excellent bespoke suits for about £3k, using the finest cloths from Yorkshire mills, where fit and finish could not have been bettered. I had no need to buy suits for £7k.

Neither did I feel the need to buy bespoke shoes, and I found one last shape from a Northampton manufacturer which was supremely comfortable, no matter the style of material of the shoe itself, so I was well shod for about £400, with no need to spend more.

Each to his own, and I enjoy reading PS and the comments, but feel no need to spend seemingly pointless amounts of money on stuff.

Fredrik

Is the average income before or after tax?

Dan

I see several comments specifically regarding the average income. Quick thoughts:
1. A few “whale” readers can greatly distort this number as Simon pointed out.
2. People are not always truthful on surveys. For men especially, when it comes to the amount of money they earn, their overall fitness level, and number of sexual conquests you will practically never get an honest answer.

Take the results with a grain of salt, and look forward to what’s to come.

limekiln

Just a point of detail on how you presented the survey results. When I opened the Permanent Style tab today I was hit by the word “Survey Results” and then my eye caught £130k AVERAGE READER INCOME in an uncharacteristically shouty typeface/size/colour. It immediately seemed vulgar and I honestly I thought I was somehow on the wrong site. I guess the immediate impression was “Simon has done a survey to find out what his readers earn?”.
Since the earnings of your readers are probably of interest to your advertisers (nothing wrong with that) and maybe a few others, wouldn’t it have had the same benefit for them if you’d shoved it to or near to the bottom? I would bet you a week’s salary 😉 that the discussion would not have been almost totally focused on how much people earn, how much they spend on clothing and so on. Instead, you’d likely have got discussion across a broader set of topics from the findings.
I’m guessing this was nothing intentional, but something to consider for next time round?

Tim Fleming

I agree with the visual discord of the image for this post being a bit off-putting. In an age where we’re inundated with media that regularly presents spin, deceptive marketing tactics, and even frank lies, perception is key. Maybe none of this is truly new in life and it’s merely changed faces over time, and in the scale of such things and what you offer Simon, this is very minor. Nevertheless, I think it could have been changed to be more consistent with your overall values as it seemed inconsistent to me. Just my 2 cents.

DE

Hi Simon, very interesting (as ever). Surely disposable income points to spending power better than earnings ever can? A 40ish man with a wife, home and two kids at respectable private schools will have very little (if anything) from a £130k income to spend on SR suits. Whereas a single gent in his 60s with no mortgage and a £65k income might be able to splash out on one or two bespoke items each year.

ANI

I do agree with the Anon comment above regarding disposable income for a higher earning 42 year old man. I’m 39. Last year my gross earnings were north of £200K. Family income over £250K. We have a house in west London , 2 children, a part time nanny, one child in prep school and wife coming out of maternity leave. My financial priorities are our mortgage, childcare, schooling and then a couple of nice holidays a year. While I could spend a few thousand on a bespoke suit Etc , that money is better off in my children’s junior ISAs or paying off the mortgage faster. As with everything in life, it’s what you prioritise. I remember a couple of years ago when I was starting out in private medical practice , I said if I earn £xxx in the next year, I will treat myself to a Patek watch. When the goal was reached , I simply couldn’t spend the money even though my wife pushed me to as a reward for the work I’d put in. I still enjoy this site for a better understanding of cloth , cuts and finishes & some of the backstories behind some brands like Hermes (doi shareholder) but I doubt I will be buying an £8000 coat until my earnings are north of £1mil.

Daniel

Hi Simon, You mentioned that you thought that there may be quite a number of younger readers who aspire to bespoke and various other products but are not (yet) able to afford it – and that the percentage who consume via Instagram (I guess “a younger crowd? “) is only 28%. Do you foresee PS gradually being geared toward slightly older readers who may already be in a position to afford bespoke and mtm? I do enjoy, for example, the Christmas gift lists which offer great ideas and often are slightly easier on the wallet.

AJ

A couple of comments reference the responsibilities of a man with a family as if to presume he is the sole earner but this is likely not true for most, and his wife (or husband) may earn the same or more again.

With that said, Simon, did you consider instead asking about household income, and if so, why did you decide on individual income in the end ?

AJ

I see. I ask because my income is exactly the same as the mean as, more or less, is my annual expenditure on clothes. My wife earns a similar amount to me. If she didn’t, and I was the sole earner for our family of four, I would certainly moderate my expenditure on clothes.

Anonymous

When are the next pop up shop dates?

Matt S

I very much appreciate the format of this site, with thoroughly written articles that aren’t too long. Too much content is now available only in video format. They say the demand is for video and not written, but I hate it. I don’t have the time to watch hours of video content every day. I’m very interested to watch many of the videos from Permanent Style, but I simply don’t have the time. Reading an article takes less time, I can go at my own pace, and it just fits my lifestyle better. I appreciate that this format still exists. It’s why I continue to produce my content in written form. I know that there will still be people who want to read rather than watch. I find nothing less satisfying than social media. It’s so sad when people put effort into a social media post (on the rare occasion it happens), and people respond with nothing more than, “nice pic!”. So many people seem to be satisfied with less, but I want more. Permanent Style delivers that.

Noel

Eloquently put Matt. Reading is a rarer pleasure these days and not many can write well. I find that writing is often better at offering a consistent picture than video (no pun intended). Simon writes clearly and concisely.

Dude

130k goes a lot further outside of London. I will be at 135k this year and while I have wonderful suit from Whitcomb (via your rec) I don’t have half that annual clothing budget. And that’s with no car and living quite cleanly save for the odd Leon GF cc cookie addiction. (1 child though)

Love the blog, not sure why I had to add my 2 cents

Jonathan W

Sorry to see so many people so troubled by what other people earn.

Simon – I’ve gotten a huge amount out of your content, including helping me make much better purchases, me loving a higher percentage of what I buy (and wear), and maybe most importantly discovering some new things.

You introduced me to the Shawl Neck Jumper, Fine Merino as a great alternative to cashmere and Bespoke Levi’s, all of which are in my top-5 favourite things to wear.

Bring back the Finest Knitwear please – I want to buy a few more for me and a few for some friends!

ANM

Simon,

The Information on income vs clothing budget, etc., is to be expected…

I would estimate the truly rich – personal jet, several estates, and a personal support staff, likely are somewhat unconnected from actually reading about, or following something like the clothing market….They probably have quarterly sessions set up with a stylist who arranges all the sessions for what they recommend for RTW, bespoke, etc.

The other way to look at it is what one sees with automobiles, watches etc….You have the wealthy, for whom a Ferrari etc., is a small part of their focus on something to collect….and yet at the “meets” they attend, they will be with people for whom their single Ferrari is the most expensive item they own, and consumes a very large part of their wealth.

I expect a number of people who pursue bespoke clothing do so not because they simply can (barely) afford to, but because it satisfies an internal need for excellence in at least one area of their life.

Guy Graff

There’s much talk about value in quality of make and material of bespoke vs high street ( I’m US we say Main St) menswear, agree overwhelmingly.

I agree fully re materials and overall quality of make of bespoke are high. The missing ingredient in this discussion is the shape, cut, form, unique confirmation of the garment to it’s owner. That transcends time and fashion making the garment long lasting in addition to it’s other qualities of it’s durability. The very important silhouette is most significant.

Michael K

Simon, moving away from the I suppose inevitable money talk, what were the results of the question asking whether you should cover more cars/cigars/arts/women/dogs? — The Rake package, as it were, or GQ’s downmarket version? I know you’ve written eloquently on how dated and degrading that lifestyle. I responded to those survey questions with extreme negatives — I like the fact that PS is all about the clothes and am wondering what number of others feel the same.

Daz

Hi Simon

Would you consider calculating the gini co efficient for the reader survey income? That would be fascinating.

Christopher Molinar

After a life in the arena of “sales” I will share the advice I would give to anyone considering a purchase of any size … “Buy well, cry once”

Richard Jones

My income is just over the PS surveys average – this is the sole income for my wife and 2 children. I can’t remember what I put for annual clothes budget but it would have been significantly less than the PS average. However, taking into account clothes for myself, wife and children, it wouldn’t be too far off (we splash out on Christmas and birthdays). If my wife had an equal income, I don’t think it would be that unreasonable for me to spend £5720 a year on menswear. All relative I guess.

I didn’t comment much on the direction of the site, I spend many enjoyable hours on here. I do enjoy the comments as much as the articles and did suggest more interviews with readers, specifically mentioning Jason, who I find very intriguing.

Anonymous

A lot of angst about income! I’m much older and now somewhat above the income average but would urge people not to stress about the latter. A post below sums this site up for me when the contributor describes it having changed his attitude to clothes and sustainability. I have 10 good bespoke suits that have lasted me more than 10 years each and still look great. Ditto shoes. You young guys can buy good vintage and have it well altered to look good in it. You certainly don’t have to spend £6k a year to look and feel well dressed.

CJ

Reading the comments I think I’m the only one surprised the salary isn’t higher. I’m yet to dabble in bespoke (first stop will be a coat when I do) and one of the reasons for that is because I still see it as expensive >£1k for most items.

ANM

I have worked for one genuine billionaire (in dollars), and a couple of multi – centa – millionaires.

The genuine billionaire is a rumpled fellow, who drives a four cylinder basic vehicle, wears khaki’s and a jumper/sweater and shirt. Every day. He has a single pair of eyeglasses. His last charitable donation was worth in excess of $250 million. I doubt if what he wears on any given day is valued at more than $150, full retail.

The other two were a partnership. One was the tech genius, who adopted the Steve Jobs approach – black shirt and jeans, every single day. He even boasted he had the closet one would think – a dozen or so identical shirt/pant combos – just to allow for rotation.

Now the other partner was the chair/financial genius behind it all. Drove a Bentley. Several $30,000 plus watches. Smoked $100 cigars, and all clothes were either bespoke or whatever was the “most expensive in the shop”…yet he looked like a poor person’s idea of what a rich person looked like.

It used to be (or at least one thinks it did) that achieving a level of financial success brought all the other parts of one life along with it…but it doesn’t…and when it does (as in the last example) money doesn’t buy taste…

One wonders just how long we will still have viable bespoke providers of clothing (and other items), when the money and taste to afford it continues to decline as qualities that are found in the same person..

Simon, thank you for keeping a focus on those who still are committed to offer items of quality. Each story is a joy to read, even if we never get to experience the product and service of the provider you profile….

Anonymous

There is a vast gulf between what Americans and Europeans would call “tasteful”.

Simon, where do you sit on the averages (age, income etc) posted here?

Mr Whistle

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the audience for a bespoke clothing site is predominantly high earners from finance , law etc, if one thinks about it.
I sometimes earn tenth of the average due to my career. Sometimes even less than that. Despite it I have a small but (hopefully!) timeless wardrobe including two bespoke suits, northampton shoes etc. I choose pieces very carefully, make sacrifices and often use sales. I think my enthusiasm for bespoke despite tight circumstances must have been obvious to the tailor I used as he did a bit of a deal. It’s possible to dress well on a lower budget. Depends what your priorities are; eg Lobb shoes over lower end bespoke, or the other way around and wear Loake.
Long term reader but these days the PS content I get most out of by far are those discussing style ideas and philosphy, how to put together a look. Always food for thought. This post was a game-changer; https://www.permanentstyle.com/2015/08/casual-tie-and-sports-jacket-military-donegal-denim-chino.html

Anonymous

It would’ve been interesting to ask for the number of male vs female readers. Do you know that # Simon?

Richard

I am a pauper by some of these yardsticks, but it doesn’t deter me in the slightest. I don’t need £6k a year to look good though I selectively buy signature and vintage items. In fact, my least expensive items get me compliments. Rule 1 is, I must sell to buy. It really focuses my mind and gives me a kick if I succeed in bringing in a new item for less than one sold.

I keep in shape and know my measurements and every purchase is first considered in how it will fit with my existing wardrobe and style. It is not always easy to resist a trophy purchase, but willpower is key if regret is to be avoided.

I am unsurprised by PS credibility. That said, I use PS as a source of inspiration, rather than any burning desire to go bespoke. PS helps me underline what I like and what I dont.

DE

Apologies Simon, this is my second comment on this post! I have very much enjoyed reading the comments on this post – particularly from those who earn below the ‘PS average’. To hear about (often young) followers of your blog with limited incomes curating their wardrobes with real thought and care must be a genuine privilege for you (as the writer) as well for us as your readers.

Tom

Really interesting data and thank you for taking the time to compile.

On average, PS readers spend ~5% of their pre-tax salary on clothes. That may be as much as 10% on a post-tax basis. That budget really only accommodates ~1-2 bespoke suits. There are a number of ways to unpack that. Survey participants are either steady state (periodically upgrading their wardrobe at the highest end) or aspirational: taking their cue from the higher-end in a wardrobe that skews more to RTW/MTM with periodic sartorial treats. If the latter, then I think PS is doing the broader community a tremendous service.

Simon, one day it would be really interesting to combine your “if I only had 5” articles into an overarching “if I only had one wardrobe” series, and how you might compose that (RTW, MTM, Bespoke). You could use the above average PS reader as your model sartorial citizen. If you layered in cost and time to acquire, it would be an incredibly useful blue print. It would promote quality, timeless design which would minimize wastage from switching costs and obsolescence (with all the adverse environmental impacts). It would also support trade. Properly composed, these wardrobes might cost meaningfully less than 5% of income to maintain.

Of course, the answers are already tucked away in the annals of PS’s former articles, but we all benefit from crib notes.

Cheers,
Tom

Peter

Thinking laterally about cost and value for money perhaps in the future you could profile some of the very talented provincial craftsmen/women who produce excellent shoes and clothing with integrity and a much lower price point. European Tailoring is great and has more cachet but products that match are available if only you would feature them.

1st world problems

From my own experience, the correlation of income with clothes spend is not so clear cut.

I’ve been earning quite a bit more than the PS survey mean for roughly the same period that I’ve had a mortgage and, more recently, children. My disposable income for clothes (indeed anything else these days) is virtually zero. Eye watering mortgage, private nursery fees and nanny salary… so gone (for now) are the days of significant clothing spend. As with fine clothing, I get that the foregoing things are also a lifestyle choice which not everyone would burden themselves with.

Ironically, a few years ago, when I was earning about a third to half of what I earn now and renting a one bed flat above a shop on a (admittedly quite nice) high street, I wouldn’t hesitate too much buying a Hermes tie, a Brunello Cucinello cashmere jumper, a new pair of hand grade Northampton shoes or perhaps a new suit on a whim, but now, I have to pause for thought about something as trivial as restocking a handful of Pantherella socks. My consolation is that I have built up a good quality wardrobe (thanks to PS), but as items become worn out, I am less inclined to replace like for like.

I would be interested to know how the clothing budget/spend actually correlates with income (no need to run any figures Simon, just talking in the hypothetical!)

Anthony Y.

Apart from the amazingly relevant, informative and curated writing are also Simon’s proactive engagement with all of his readers whichever the platform, it really adds so much value and a touch of bespoke-ness to the contents and makes us feel that we are all contributors to this community.

The video interviews and guides are also very well moderated and educational to say the least, Simon’s journalistic touch and patience magnifies the voices and confidence of some of the normally silent craftsmen and women, not to mention the wonderfully written The Sartorial Travel Guide of which I was very happy with the purchase here in Sydney,

Thank you and keep up the good work Sir,

Anthony,

Anonymous

Simon, nice of you to publish the results. Same as you did with the income, it’d be great to see the median for the other points, especially the annual budget, since my guess is it’s heavily influenced by the (upper) extreme too.

Alejandro

Interesting to see that the average reader spends £6000 a year on cloths. By the average age of 42 you will end up with too many clothes to wear.

Unless you are a “fashion professional,” like Simon C., this does not makes that much sense sense. In principle, one of the advantages of the bespoken is the timeless cut, outside of the fast fashion. What is the point of comissioning such items if you are not going to use them? Maybe too many comissions ended up being mistakes? After all, this blog is not called “temporary style”.

Jon

I had to chuckle at your comment about self-delusion. I took a hiatus from buying any clothes when my wife casually mentioned that it might be less time-consuming for me to receive shipments at my home rather than getting them at the office and smuggling them into the house.

Edward

Interesting stuff. I would definitely agree with the 95% that PS has far more credibility than other sources. And re how PS is funded, I strongly agree that this should be through its own products, and certainly never through posts in partnership with brands. I used to check Hodinkee multiple times per day when all their posts were all independent, but now rarely go to their website because the paid partnership posts (aka adverts masquerading as articles) have ruined the site for me. I love the way you are doing it so far though and really enjoy your honest independent opinions, so keep it up.