With its atelier located on the 5th Floor of Ngee Ann City, Tailored Fashions up-scale location is a double-edged sword. On one hand, Tailored Fashions has amassed a regional following and is favoured by Datuks and jet-setting businessmen. On the other, young executives are cautious about stepping into a bespoke atelier located in one of Singapore’s most upscale shopping mall; worried that a suit cut from an average cloth would set them back by a few grand.
Mr Alan Lee working on the custom fitting garment, a trial cloth made of canvas
That is a myth which Head Cutter and founder, Mr Alan Lee, has sought to debunk in the recent year. A suit cut from a VBC cloth starts from S$1500. To anyone familiar with bespoke tailoring, this is a fair price. In a time where the term "bespoke" is bastardised and used loosely, to find a genuine bespoke suit, minus the marketing frills, is not a walk in the park.
Head Cutter of Tailored Fashions, Mr Alan Lee
Pattern matching - a basic but indispensable hallmark of a bespoke suit
Leaving aside the number of fine wool available for choosing (including of course Ermengeildo Zegna, Loro Piana, Cerruti, Dormeuil and Holland & Sherry), a number of other reasons impressed our team during the commissioning process.
Custom-Made Fitting Garment: Value of a trial cloth
Like all bespoke commission, one should expect a pattern cut specially for you. Unfortunately, the bastardization of the word Patten matching - a basic but indispensable hallmark of a bespoke suit ‘bespoke’ has seen many mid-grade tailors do away with the baste fit, let alone a custom-made fitting garment. As one of the few remaining stalwarts of the bespoke process, Alan ensures that each of his client is given a custom-made fitting garment. For the unacquainted, a custom-made fitting garment is made of muslin (and not the actual chosen fabric) to account for the peculiarities of the wearer's form.
Alan explains that the purpose of this is two folds. First, he prefers not to work directly on the chosen fabric until the major changes are done. Although this incurs a higher cost, the fitting garment allows for modifications to the cut, the lapel gorge and the button stance to be done quickly. In fact, Alan did the modifications to Sean's fitting garment right before our eyes. In the same 25 minutes, Alan engages in personal conversations with his client as he expertly reconfigures the fitting garment. Practically speaking, this allows Alan's client, which comprise business travellers and senior executives, to be fitted again in the same appointment. This spares the need for another round of fitting without compromising on the bespoke process.
Second, the human form is complex and measurements alone will not tell you how a cloth will drape on the shoulder, the neck or the back. That is the difference between a bespoke fitting and measuring. Alan executes this basting process to perfection.
Custom-made fitting garments for each of Tailored Fashions' client (Deconstructed)
Held together by basting threads, major adjustments are made on the fitting garment prior to cutting the actual suit fabric. The investment of trial cloth has often been dispensed by tailors who bastardize the term 'bepoke'
Experience: Working with difficult fabrics
Another fundamental but often neglected trait of a master tailor is his ability to work with premium fabrics. As all things luxurious, the more premium the wool (or sometimes linen and silk), the more difficult it is to utilise. A master tailor who has worked with enough of these tricky fabrics would understand the intricacies that some cloth present.
For instance, the time needed for the cloth to cool after ironing, the allowances needed to accommodate the stretch in the cloth and when it comes to a patterned cloth (stripes or checks), the painstaking matching of the patterns.
We commissioned two suits, one with a Zegna S’130 chalk stripes and an interesting lightweight Guabello; both of which Alan was no stranger to. He immediately pointed out the nuances, the sheen on the opposite side of the fabric, and the time he would need to work on each suit. All of these are traits that one would hope a professed bespoke tailor would posses.
Sean admiring his newly minted Zegna Super 130's suit (and possibly himself)
Zegna fabrics are supple and difficult to work with if one lacks experiences - especially when creating the lapel roll.
Keen Eye: Understanding the human form
The last point that we must share with any reader intending to commission his next suit is Alan’s strong understanding for proportions and the human form. Multiple fittings in the bespoke process can serve two purposes. First, to correct major errors and second, to allow the tailor to build upon each fitting to perfect the suit to the client’s silhouette. And a true master tailor emphasises on the latter.
At the forward fitting, Alan demonstrated his prowess by making fine adjustments which are quite honestly, only noticeable to a trained eye. But once he lets you in on the imperfections, it becomes impossible to un-see it. Perhaps what is more tragic is that one might can’t help but notice the imperfections (or mistakes) on another man’s jacket when attending the next dinner party.
Jokes aside, it was Alan’s understanding of how the lapel width affected the gorge and shoulders which really struck our team. For one of the commission, we requested for a 3.5 inches lapel, a large deviation from Alan’s house cut. He was immediately up to the task and made several adjustments to the gorge and collar to ensure that the proportion remained balanced.
Collar anchored to the neck, shoulders going into a natural sleevehead
Situated in one of the most luxurious mall in Orchard, but away from the Central Business District, Alan’s expertise remains foreign to the young executives. His expertise and price point, in our opinion, makes him the hidden gem of Singapore’s bespoke tailoring.
Tailored Fashions is located at 391 Orchard Road, Ngee Ann City, #05-27
Alan gives his client undivided attention on a strictly appointment basis. Book an appointment with Tailored Fashions at (65) 6732 9310 or visit www.tailoredfashions.com.sg