A Visual Evolution: The Art of Rigging

Tom Beebe, our rigging guru, with his army of mannequins.

Tom Beebe, our rigging guru, with his army of mannequins.

“A lot of people don’t know what rigging is,” says Tom Beebe, our VP of Creative Services. “It’s a lost art.”

While others may think of a complicated process involving ropes on a boat, we at Hart Schaffner Marx think of the — equally intricate — process of dressing a bust form.

These naked mannequins will soon be clothed in the Hart Schaffner Marx Fall 2013 collection.

These naked mannequins will soon be clothed in the Hart Schaffner Marx Fall 2013 collection.

“To rig it properly takes pins, ironing. You learn the logistics of where to pull and push the fabrics, whether it be a shirt, sweater, or sportcoat,” said Beebe, who adds that most stores today use fiberglass mannequins built to carry slim fitting garments without any additional work. “You learn how to pin the back keeping with the seams and tailoring. So being a good rigger, it’s almost like being a good tailor.”

A good rig, according to Beebe, usually takes 30 minutes. He has gotten the art down to about 20 minutes. It still takes quite a lot of time to finish the 80 to 100 mannequins he usually rigs for us each season.

Beebe is now in the process of rigging the mannequins in our corporate showrooms for the Fall 2013 collection. “It’s fall so we’re lucky because that means layers and beautiful fabrics…more texture-oriented, richer,” he said, adding that “of course sweaters and outerwear are better because it’s all looser.”

Hart Schaffner Marx mannequinsHis favorite part of the process is watching the style evolve. Working with the design team, he will transform the great separate pieces they have put together into a visually pleasing collection of looks. “You’re already working with good product and good fabric, and the fit’s already there. It’s more layering it and giving it a personal seasonal twist,” Beebe said.

As he works with the pieces altogether for the first time, he will organically learn what the vision for the season is. “Last season we believed in a blue blazer. This season we don’t even know yet, we’ll find out tomorrow,” only after he starts working with the collection, although he does know we will see a lot of novelty sweaters and layering in Fall 2013.

Below, some tools of the trade: pocket squares, gloves, socks, shoes, scarves, belts, scissors, seam rippers and T pins.

pocket square box boxes tool box

Buyers and stores come into our showrooms to choose what they will buy from our Fall 2013 collection. Beebe added that the positive feedback from everyone who enters the showroom is one of the most gratifying parts of the job. Buyers, in turn, use Beebe’s editorial interpretations of the collection to influence how they display the clothing in their own stores.

Over the next few days, we will be posting more pictures so you can watch the evolution of our showroom!

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