A detailed approach to purchasing custom-tailored choir robes will ensure the best decision.
By Jeff Gallion
Is it time for new choir robes? Robes can represent a large investment, and you want to make the most of it. There are some key points to keep in mind when acquiring new custom-tailored choir robes for your church, and being aware of these can help you make the best choices to assure satisfaction with your purchase.
1. Get some help. Purchasing new custom choir robes may sound simple enough, but in reality there are a lot of things to consider. You may want to enlist the help of a few select members of your congregation to form a “choir robe committee.” This group, assisted by your chosen robe manufacturers’ representative, can help you make the most of the purchasing process.
2. Identify your timeline. Are you free from time restrictions to take delivery of your new choir robes, or is there a special event coming up when you would like to wear your new robes? Knowing your targeted first-wear date will help everyone involved stay on track.
It normally takes about six to eight weeks to manufacture custom robes. This time includes the selections of style, fabric and trim, the confirmation of measurements and pricing and the submission of the order. If you have a very short timeline you may want to consider purchasing ready-made robes which can ship very quickly, sometimes in as little as 24 hours following receipt of order.
3. Do some basic research. There are many robe manufacturers to choose from, all claiming to be the best. Some companies have reputations for offering better quality, some for offering better service, and others maybe not so much of either. Solicit feedback from your peers about their choir robe purchasing experience and satisfaction with their purchase.
4. Know all of your options. Request catalogs showing available choir robe styles from manufacturers you’re considering, as well as fabric selectors. You may see some popular styles from various manufacturers that appear similar, but in fact are not the same. Some will offer consistently better quality fabrics, while others may have inconsistencies in fabric quality. Some will offer a generous fuller cut, making others seem skimpy by comparison.
5. Dare to compare. Request finished robe samples from the manufacturers you’re considering and compare them. There’s probably someone in your congregation who will recognize and appreciate the differences in tailoring construction and finishing from manufacturer to manufacturer. If not, get acquainted with the basic elements in robe construction and how your new robes will be constructed. This is well worth your time, as it relates directly to how your new robes will hold up and look when worn repeatedly.
Lasting beauty begins on the inside of the robe with quality construction techniques. Inner lined yokes help make your robes hang and fit properly for years to come. Balanced machine fluting ensures a rich, even drape of fabric around the robe. Also, reinforced necklines hold the shape and eliminate lining roll-out. Add to that careful attention to tailoring details like lock-stitching, safety-stitching, blind-stitching, and the use of top-quality zippers, and you have a robe that will look great for years.
Because all robes are not created equal, beware if you choose to shop based primarily on price. You’re about to invest in new custom choir robes for your church, how soon would you like to have to replace them again?
6. Roll up your sleeves. Now that you have everything you need to make informed decisions it’s time to narrow down all of these options. Which manufacturer offers the best quality and value? Which style and fabric selection best suits your choir and which fabric colors best compliment your sanctuary?
7. Consider you budget. Funding is last on this list only because you may not know how much to budget until the robes are selected. If you find that the robes are beyond your budget, consider a fundraiser. If a target budget is established, a skilled robe dealer or representative can help you make the most of it.
Even with the many choices and considerations offered by robe manufacturers today, keeping in mind these seven steps will help you make a more informed decision and provide your choir with robes that will look great for years to come.
Jeff Gallion is director of marketing for Murphy Robes, St. Petersburg, FL. [murphyrobes.com]