Wednesday, 4 January 2012

It's expensive being rich in Warsaw (or is it?)

The joys of working in the very centre of town include being surrounded by a great many shops. Across the road from my new office is a bespoke tailor, Zaremba. Now, being in need of a new suit, I thought I'd pop in to find out how much a made-to-measure suit would be. Prices, I was told, start at 6,000 złotys. And there's a three-month wait. At today's rate, that's £1,100. GULP! Given that made-to-measure suits at Gieves and Hawkes start at £795 - and many other Savile Row tailors match that price point, one does wonder why wealthy Poles don't fly to London for bespoke suits. Well, it's evidently time plus the fact that one needs to shell out for at least two return airfares.

Warsaw, lacking a Savile Row sector of its own (competition = lower prices + better quality) is a more expensive place to be rich than London. Or is it...? Wandering into the Gucci store in the new vitkAc luxury fashion house (five security guards to every putative customer) and then comparing prices online, I could see effectively no difference between Warsaw and London.

Porsche's website throws more light on whether it's more expensive to be rich in Poland... Look at the UK or German pages and you'll see the prices transparently quoted for each model. On the Polish pages - er... no. In Germany, the bog-standard Cayenne diesel will set you back €61,381. In the UK, £46,338. (So, about 10% cheaper in the UK.) A bit of googling and a Polish price for a Porsche Cayenne with 3.0 litre diesel engine (no extras) is... 341,917 PLN. That's the equivalent of €75,813 or £62,852. [Exchange rates: 1 GBP = 5.44 PLN, 1 EUR = 4.51 PLN]

So... a bespoke suit can be more expensive in Poland because it costs more to buy one in London on account of the travel costs for fittings. Gucci products are more easily transportable, being ready-made. Car prices - after sales service can make the difference. And we are talking about a single European market.

Is it really more expensive being rich in Poland? Well, the single most expensive purchase a wealthy person is likely to make is real estate. And here, Warsaw beats the western European competition. Houses and flats are dramatically cheaper than London. And another expensive thing for Brits - their children's education - is not only cheaper, but on the whole better, in Poland. Plus the top tax rate is 32% (19% for entrepreneurs) and not 50% as it is in the UK.

So all the money that wealthy Poles save on housing, school fees and tax - they can afford to blow on tailor-made suits and luxury sports utility vehicles!

It is a biological imperative to show off one's wealth as soon as one has acquired it. Flaunting it to demonstrate one's position in the pecking order. Neighbour got a Porsche Cayenne? Buy a Porsche Cayenne Turbo (673,617 złotys = over twice the price of the basic petrol-engined model 319,989 złotys). Or better still - spend the surplus 354,000 złotys on buying more land, a bigger house or more luxurious apartment. But no one will see that when you're standing at the lights.

Which suggests some business opportunities...

This time two years:
Winter commuting in colour and black & white

This time three years ago:
Zamienie in winter

This time four years ago:
Really cold (-12C at night)


Unknown said...

Hi Michał,

If you're looking for a cheaper bespoke tailor in Warsaw (although Zaremba has an excellent reputation), you can check the forums on I think I may have told you once about the blog, and the author of that blog has had good results at Gest Moda on Ordynacka, and others. He's got reviews of probably most of the bespoke and MTM tailors in the city. (

I haven't purchased a suit from any of these folks but suspect that Zaremba is probably one of the most expensive.

student SGH said...


bespoke suits and Porsches are products targeted only at really wealthy. My reason why in Poland they're more expensive are:
1) in Poland the group of target buyers is smaller, so margin on a single product must be higher to let the seller break even,
2) Polish new-rich are a relatively young group and still feel the need to show off, so are more eager to spend more money to indulge in their one-upmanship than their counterparts in Western countries who don't. In Germany I met several rich people but despite their fortunes they drove normal cars and behaved like ordinary people. The gulf between modest and incredibly well-behaved well-off people from Germany and the new-rich Poles is visible.

Real estate... Warsaw's much cheaper... Well mate, most people can go without bespoke suits and swanky cars, but everyone needs a roof over their head. What's the average net monthly salary in London? In Warsaw average earnings are, if I can believe this report 3,931 PLN, so for a monthly salary one can buy 0.5 sqm of an average flat (average transaction price for a sqm in the capital is ca. 8,000 PLN). How many sqm can an average Londoner buy for their salary? And an average Berliner? Make a fair comparison.

PS. you know when it comes to property prices I'm likely to argue ;-)

Andrzej K said...

There is a strong argument to suggest that the Polish zloty having been devalued endlessly by inflation in the 80's and early 90's and denominated by a factor of 10,000 has no real intrisic value and therefore for people who have significant discretionary spending power the price is incidental. Personally I do not think twice about paying 12 zloty or more for a half litre of beer whilst I still wince at paying 3 pounds for a pint in the UK. This is the same factor at play which allowed shopkeepers to round up to the nearest Euro prices in shops when the Euro was introduced.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Zaremba's the most expensive tailor in Warsaw. Secondly, you seem not to understand the difference between a bespoke tailor and MTM service since you compare them with regard to pricing. Last but not least, does it make any sense to compare the bottom line from SR (most assuredly because it is from SR to put emphasis on the quality issue) to one of the most respected and successful tailors of all time in Poland?

woof said...

Dear Michael,

You are trying to compare things that are not comparable and as a result you arrive to wrong conclusion.

MTM is not equal in quality and amount of work/craftmanship needed to bespoke. Please ask for real bespoke price at Gieves and Hawkes - than compare it to bespoke Zaremba.

SR price for a bespoke suit is well over 3000 GBP, so even Zaremba (IMHO a bit too expensive indeed) is much, much more competitive.

But this exercise will not support your questionable thesis...

the fine dandy said...

I have to agree with above readers. There is a huge difference between mtm made in a factory and bespoke handmade at the permise.bespoke suit starts at 3k gbp at sr. Zaremba cannot be more expensive in bespke sector. He doesnt offer mtm at the moment.please do your homework

Michael Dembinski said...

So "Szyte na miarę" is - what in Polish? Bespoke or made to measure. The teeth don't say. Maybe this is a language thing. (Stanisławski gives 'Bespoke' as 'zrobione na zamówienie'.)

+Immune+ said...

You went to Zaremba, requested for the price tag and did not even ask how the suit is being made?

I wonder if answering your question about the polish equivalent of an English term 'bespoke' will do any good, since it seems that both definitions require further explanation.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Wow, Michał, I think they're being really hard on you!!

In the spirit of communication, learning, and good fun, I wish your Polish fashion commentators would share the Polish equivalent of 'bespoke' instead of just slagging you . . . I for one would like to know because I do not know how to distinguish these two terms in Polish either.

I take it that the literal translation of 'szytę na miarę' is 'tailor made' or something along those lines. My level of understanding of Polish is infantile, but I would GUESS that 'szytę na miarę' *should* equal 'bespoke.' The problem is that retailers who sell made-to-measure garments seem to advertise this service as 'sztyte na miarę,' when it is not really 'tailor made,' but rather made according to your measurements with existing templates.

Will the peanut gallery stop jeering long enough to enlighten us??

woof said...


How to translate bespoke or how to translate mtm is secondary problem. Polish language is in this respect just too simple - as in many other modern areas of life.

The problem lies in false logic used and misguiding your viewers/listeners. The blog article is not that frustrating. People publish more or less wise thoughts on their blogs - no need to care.

But what made me a bit mad was your Tok FM interview - and that's how I found your blog.

You may not understand difference between MTM and bespoke. Little people do in fact, so I don't blame you. But if you haven't done your homework properly please do not pose as an expert in media. You gain nothing but risk your professional reputation only.

BTW in the same radio discussion other pundit claimed that large corporations are not using iPads because of safety reasons and then all made laugh about Polish parliament buying tablets for MPs... Funny indeed, but again far from reality. Polish media serves crap thanks to you guys.

Anonymous said...

to clarify the difference in laymans terms:
in mtm they take an existing predefined pattern and adjust it to your body measurements, you will have some limited options to choose from like colors, cloth, number of buttons, etc

in mtm you are served by a consultant, you never actually meet the tailors who in fact may work on your garment in some distant location (like china)

in bespoke your measurements are taken by the cutter and an individual form is prepared which is later used to create a garment designed to fit you and no one else.
options are almost limitless. the tailors will provide you with anything you want unless its something they can not deliver or do not agree with.

in real bespoke a great deal of work is done by hand.

for most people both the english and polish definitions are confusing so before ordering anything I would suggest to ask the tailor how the suit will be made?

hope this helps

best regards

Unknown said...

Wow. I for one was never asking the difference between MTM and bespoke in English. I guess the difference **IN POLISH** between MTM and bespoke is a secret. So far nobody is willing to step up to the plate and explain how one would distinguish these terms in the Polish language.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ all...

Is it my job to ask or the tailor's guy to explain? I asked for 'szyte na miarę'. Was that right? Should the tailor have followed up with by talking me through the process rather than blandly saying prices start at six grand and there's a three-month waiting list?

@ andershep

Many thanks for your explanation - very useful indeed.

@ woof

Errrr... how was I to know I'd not done my homework properly? :)

And please explain the price differences between a Porsche Cayenne diesel in Germany and in Poland in that case.

Woof said...

You asked Zaremba and received quotation for premium product and at G&H you asked the same question and received price for low-end product. Maybe being rich and not educated in apparel subject in London is more difficult because tailors are not fair?

But there are arguments to some extend in line with your thesis. But not proving than being rich is difficult in Poland but justifying claim that being only moderately rich is really painful.

Compare not high-end but medium range products. Mass market shirts for instance. You can buy Jermyn Street shirts of decent quality for 100GBP per pack of 5. Absolutely not possible to buy equal product in Poland (say Wolczanka). Not mentioning much better British style. I haven't examined closely British mtm shirt pricing, but I guess it's a bit more expensive than Polish (60-80 GBP).

Same with shoes. You simply can't buy good (quality and style) RTW shoes in Poland in medium price range (by medium for Polish market I mean 400-500 PLN). But you absolutely can almost anywhere else in Europe.

But if you go for MTM shoes... Than you can really appreciate living in Warsaw. You can order absolutely amazing MTM shoes at Polish craftsmen for ca. 2000 PLN. Please ask at Edward Green or G&G to compare how difficult it is to live in the UK ;)

Woof said...

And Porsche... Yes, all luxury cars are more expensive in Poland than in Germany. Probably tax issue. But you can also say that same car is cheaper in the US as well. Not mentioning their oil prices...

And than alcohol... Due to tax and excise it is cheaper to buy Polish vodka in Berlin than in Warsaw... With premium alcohols it's even worse... Additional margin of retailers harvested due to shallow market for good malt whisky or cognac makes purchases of these goods totally unreasonable in Poland...

Dź said...

In Poland you need to look at quality, name of service alone may mislead you in that matter. Best to stick with andershep's definition to differ MTM/Bespoke, szyte na miarę can be translated as MTM and bespoke both. Zaremba offered you surely bespoke not MTM though. There are cheaper bespoke tailors in Poland too, and sometimes it's hard to tell if it's still bespoke, or MTM.
Best regards,

Daniel Roberts said...

Hi Michael!
I totally agree with you! Undoubtedly, custom made suits online are quite expensive and you have to wait a bit to get your piece. However, once you get your suit, you will not regret a single second that you waited. I have been wearing their clothes since 1 year. And, I must say I love it! I suggest you to try it once and I bet you will fall in love with its fabric and fitting.