Robb Report films our tailors at work (video)

Hello friends. We were honoured to have Robb Report Singapore visit our atelier recently to document the process of handcrafting a Kevin Seah Bespoke sports coat. A nine-page photo essay (images from which can be seen here) appeared in the October ‘Bespoke’ issue of the magazine, and a video that was shot simultaneously has just gone live online.

 Our artisans at work. Click the image or  here to watch the video . Photo (c)  Robb Report Singapore .

Our artisans at work. Click the image or here to watch the video. Photo (c) Robb Report Singapore.

In the five-minute clip, I explain how we consult at length with our clients to devise and design unique garments that will suit their lifestyle and environs, keeping them looking elegant while feeling comfortable. The video also takes a close look at the work — more than 70 hours’ worth! — that goes into cutting, canvassing, hand-stitching and constructing one of our bespoke jackets.

Please take a few moments to view the video. I hope that it will give our current clients and those considering commissioning a Kevin Seah Bespoke suit a greater understanding and appreciation of the process involved in creating a perfectly fitted bespoke garment.

We welcome you to visit and enjoy the Kevin Seah Bespoke experience for yourself — or why not drop in to try some of our new ready-to-wear clothing?

See you soon.
—Kevin

The Robb Report Singapore photo essay can be viewed in full here. Thank you to Vanessa Caitlin and Hazirah Rahim for making such beautiful photographs, and to Robb publisher Michael Von Schlippe and his team for the humbling feature. We are so grateful for the support.

Why men who hate shopping love Kevin Seah

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Hello friends. When people ask me where the Kevin Seah Bespoke ‘shop’ is, I often reply, “We don’t have a shop. We have an atelier.” Sure, we have things here you can buy off the rack — ties, shoes, pocket squares, socks, polos, tees, other accessories, and now, ready-to-wear shirts. But our space on Jalang Kilang is not some boutique or mall. You don’t come here to ‘go shopping’. You come for an experience.
 
Psychologists say men and women make purchases in very different ways. They think it’s down to our hunter-gatherer past, thousands of years ago. In those days, women would go out ‘browsing’ for wild edible plants, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Men, meanwhile, would set out with single-minded purpose to hunt, kill and quickly bring home a meaty meal (no fridges then, you couldn’t delay). According to the experts, this approach is lodged in our genes, and is still basically how males and females go about the task of acquiring what they need to get by.

Research shows men get bored after 26 minutes of shopping, while women can happily browse for 120 minutes plus. Why, then, do our customers — who are mostly males — often spend hours hanging around the atelier, sipping whisky, considering our thousands of cloths and mulling over what to have made? Because a visit to Kevin Seah isn’t ‘shopping’. It’s not ‘buying’ a product or service. It is an experience, collaborating with our artisans to co-create something unique. Luxury is all about exclusivity, and what is more exclusive than one-of-one? That’s the essence of bespoke.

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You may still think a bit like a primitive hunter, but in one of our bespoke outfits, you’ll look the total opposite of a Neanderthal. The Kevin Seah atelier is no place for cavemen — however, it is the ultimate ‘man-cave’…
 
Until next week,
—Kevin

Why Bestetti is a name that will never be forgotten

Hello friends. Allow me to apologise in advance, because this is a very sad story.

I first discovered Italian shoemaker Riccardo Freccia Bestetti thanks to our friend Justin FitzPatrick of The Shoe Snob blog. In 2014, Justin made a pilrimage to Vigevano outside Milan to visit the workshop of Mr Bestetti — he’d had no choice, as the renowned shoemaker refused to do international trunk shows; such was his love for his son that he couldn’t bear to be away from him for even a couple of days. Justin was just as impressed by this caring, soulful attitude as he was by Bestetti’s shoes.

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“He is a master in the industry and his works of art are simply amazing… what he does is beautiful,” Justin wrote in his report on the visit. Furthermore, he said, “Riccardo Bestetti is a fantastic person… Not only is he genuine, nice, hospitable, kind, passionate, humble and the rest of it, but most importantly he cares. Not only does he care about shoes, his own as well as others’, but he cares for the customer and how the customer feels… What was most admirable for me was the way in which he cared about his family, particularly his one and only son. The way someone treats their family says a lot about a person to me. And when Riccardo spoke of his son, you could see all of the love and passion that he possessed glowing out of his skin… I know that this has nothing to do with shoes, but for me it is important”.

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Justin related the story of Bestetti’s journey into shoemaking: “Riccardo is a self-taught shoemaker, having started with Western cowboy boots before moving on to the masterpieces that we see today. It started about 20 years ago when he had bought some handmade boots in Texas. Having flown to the US to visit a family member he went to the bootmaker to collect two pairs of boots he’d ordered some months before. Of course they were not ready, so Riccardo told them that they needed to finish before he left back to Italy and that he was going to stay and watch as they finished them. He did just that and after having returned to Italy, thought to himself, ‘Why purchase more boots like this? I can do what they did!’ He therefore kept one and ripped the other apart only to examine it and start to try and build one of his own. With a bit of common sense, some trial and error and a few good books on bootmaking, he quickly became a bootmaker.”

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After five years making only boots (which are still a Bestetti signature), Riccardo “started to become more curious with regards to the world of shoes. So he decided to make a switch and took what he knew from bootmaking and transferred it to shoemaking. He started with quite basic bespoke shoes, not having any of the fancy bells and whistles that he does today. The waists were quite normal and the lasts quite conservative. But he wasn’t completely satisfied with that so he decided to start doing things that he could attach a persona to, such as the pegged waists and the uniquely shaped lasts and patterns. With those, he created the ‘Bestetti look’, which is still very prevalent to this day and is easily recognized without doubt. The rest is kind of history,” Justin concluded.

Tragically, two years after Justin’s visit, Mr Bestetti very sadly passed away from a serious lung ailment. Urged on by Mr Bestetti’s mother and wife, Marco Facchinetti, who’d been friends with Mr Bestetti for 25 years and had been helping his brand reach the American market, vowed to keep the company alive and make the vast archive of designs and models the shoemaker left behind into a reality. Since 2016, Facchinetti has been carrying on the design and craftsmanship legacy of his late, great friend, expanding the Bestetti workshop and its customer base in Italy and internationally.

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Next month, Mr Facchinetti will be visiting Singapore, where he will be holding a bespoke and made-to-measure trunk show at the Kevin Seah atelier. Soon we’ll publish an interview with him on our site. But to personally hear more of the story of how Mr Facchinetti is honoring the memory of Riccardo Bestetti, and to see for yourself the beautiful shoes this artisan house handmakes, we invite you to visit 5 Jalan Kilang on November 21.

Join us and raise a glass in tribute to Riccardo Bestetti — a gifted artisan who will always be missed, and never be forgotten.

Until next week…

—Kevin

Kevin Seah features in “World's Top 10 Sartorial Destinations”

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We’re delighted and humbled to report that leading menswear website Gentleman’s Gazette has featured KEVIN SEAH BESPOKE in its definitive list of “The World’s Top 10 Sartorial Destinations” — alongside such highly respected men’s style meccas as Caraceni, The Armoury, Al Bazar, Beams and Sciamat. (Enviable company indeed.)

In the article, the Gazette’s Dr Christopher Lee writes, “Singapore is in the public eye because of the 2018 film, Crazy Rich Asians. It has also been making noise for the growth of the menswear sector in the city. Kevin Seah Bespoke may be the most celebrated, as well as the largest, menswear destination in the city, and his grand space is something to behold whether you are interested in made-to-measure and bespoke suits or in other accessories. The menswear press has widely lauded Seah’s selection of cloth and the quality of its tailoring.

Many thanks, Gentleman’s Gazette! To read the rest of the article, go to the link here.

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An Interview with Tony Gaziano

Broadly considered Britain’s finest ‘new generation’ men’s shoemakers, melding traditional craftsmanship with a sleek, contemporary aesthetic, Gaziano & Girling has won a cult-like following globally in the 12 years since the company’s establishment. Ahead of G&G’s third bespoke and made-to-order trunk show at Kevin Seah — the sole retailer of Gaziano & Girling shoes in Southeast Asia — we spoke with Tony Gaziano about his dedication to the craft and the intricacies of running an artisanal business.

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Kevin Seah: You started out designing shoes and subsequently trained as a last-maker. Why did you gravitate toward that side of shoemaking? What made you want to develop an expertise in that highly specialised area?

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Tony Gaziano: I realised that without the knowledge and the ability to create a last, I was really limiting the aesthetics and what I could achieve through design. You know, it’s such an important part of the design procedure, many other companies will actually use a last manufacturer to make models for them, they’ll describe what they want, and I really wanted more control over that. I wanted to be able to create what I pictured rather than specify what I wanted and leave it up to somebody else to do. So when I first got into a last making, it was for design purposes because I wanted to create these fluent, elegant, balanced shapes myself rather than leave it to somebody else.

KS: Would you say you’re a bit of a control freak in that sense?

TG: I am obsessive about details, beyond probably what other people — apart from designers or last-makers — could see, almost to the point of insignificance. Most people would look at a detail I’m fussing over and think, ‘Well, what do you want to take that bit off for, what difference is that going to make?’ Maybe it won’t make any difference, but I need to do it anyway because it’s in my head, you know? So yes, I’m very obsessive when I create a project that it has to be done to all the mental standards — the last has to be a work of art. It’s not just a functional tool.

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KS: Was it a desire to have that degree of control — which you’d never have at another company, where they’d adhere to a strict house style — that motivated you to set out on your own with Dean Girling and found G&G?

TG: To be honest with you, I enjoy both. I also enjoy being given a project and realising that for somebody else. At the time when I was designing for (British shoemaker) Edward Green, it was an incredibly hard company to design for because the boundaries of design at Edward Green are very limited. So it was challenging in itself to be able to create something that was still very classically English but at the same time, new. After a while, there were particular ranges and looks that I could only achieve on my own. And I think knowing it was there and suppressing it over a period of time was just getting too much. So, you know, it was Dean that probably pushed me into leaving the companies that I was working for, and starting on our own and pursuing all these ideas. I was aching for it towards the end.

KS: At many of the Italian companies we’ve visited, there’s a very familial atmosphere — the boss or owner will go to the canteen and eat lunch with his staff, he knows everyone there from higher-ups to the janitor, and will help out when any of them need assistance. Does that atmosphere exist in your business?

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TG: Yes, definitely. Actually, once the factory was set up, one of the first things I did was put a ping-pong table in the canteen area. And I try to make a point of twice a day going and playing table tennis with the staff — partly because I know I can beat them. (laughs) It’s one of the best things that I did because it’s so great for bonding — not just with me but with each other. It really bonds people together. We never play singles, it’s always doubles, it’s great fun and makes people laugh and really brings us together. We also always have a couple of summer parties and everybody in the factory gets invited. Everybody has too much to drink, there’s a lot of dancing and, you know, we do other activities as well. There is a lot of togetherness in the factory. And likewise, yes, when people have been in trouble, we try and help them out. There’s certainly been a few times specifically when people got into debt problems where we’ve helped them out of the hole. Personally, I’m very much somebody that believes if you’ve got a happy employee it will come out in great work.

KS: Given that close relationship with your staff, is the fact that you’ve got 30 families’ livelihoods depending upon the business’s health a weight to carry on your shoulders?

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TG: Sure, but I mean, I don’t really dwell on it too much. I found the best way to deal with things is to be forever the optimist and literally just stamp out the negative sides of things in the business. And there are plenty of negative sides, some of which come from them (G&G’s employees), because being friends as well as employees they come with all the emotional baggage and problems in life. So, you deal with that kind of thing as well. Yes, it is a weight, but I try to be strong enough to fight it off and just get on with the job, make sure that we don’t get anywhere near the danger zones.

KS: Final question: You’ve been terrifically successful in the 12 years since establishing Gaziano & Girling. If you could, is there anything you’d go back and change about the way you’ve done things over that period?

TG: There’s one thing that irritates me a little bit, and that’s how we’ve built our range of shoes. So for example, when we launched the company, we initially launched about 40 different styles. Now we’ve got more than 120 styles. I wish I would’ve made the range a little bit smaller and took my time to release certain models in a different way so that each model got the attention it deserved as a piece of craftsmanship. When you release too many shoes, things get lost in the mix. So that’s probably my own regret. Other than that, there have been a lot of struggles along the way, a lot of complicated situations to deal with in the business – but I don’t really regret them, it’s all been part of the learning curve of going from shoemaker to salesman to manager to businessman, balancing all those skills.

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Sample the exquisite shoemaking skills of Gaziano & Girling at their latest Singapore bespoke and MTO trunk show, taking place at Kevin Seah’s 5 Jalan Kilang atelier, 11 and 12 September (11am-7pm). Contact info@kevinseah.com or call +65 6532 2018 to make an appointment with G&G master craftsman Daniel Wegan.

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10 Greatest Shoe Quotes for Men

Ahead of our trunk show on 11 and 12 September with top British shoemaker Gaziano & Girling, we curate a selection of 10 of the greatest quotes ever uttered about shoes, tailored for a male audience. Adhere to this advice — and be sure to put your best foot forward, gentlemen.

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10. “Wanna know if a guy is well dressed? Look down.” —George Frazier, midcentury Esquire magazine men’s style pundit

9. “Invest heavily in your bed and your shoes, because if you’re not in one then you’re in the other!” —George Glasgow Snr., master cordwainer, George Cleverley

8. “You can never take too much care over the choice of your shoes.” —Christian Dior, genius couturier

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7. “To wear dreams on one’s feet is to begin to give a reality to one’s dreams.” —Roger Vivier, ‘the Fabergé of Footwear’, inventor of the stiletto

6. “Good shoes will take you to good places.” —Anon.

5. “I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world.” —Bette Midler, performer, recipient of wind beneath wings

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4. “Shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically and emotionally.” —Christian Louboutin, founder of eponymous red-soled footwear brand

3. “I feel that flip-flops are the downfall of many relationships. It’s like, first it’s the flip-flops, and then it’s the sweatpants… it’s the gateway drug to no sex.” —Lady Gaga, performer / meat-based couture enthusiast

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2. “Craziness in a shoe is great — you can have much more freedom, you can exaggerate and it doesn’t feel stupid. But to have too much craziness near your face, that would just feel weird.” —Miuccia Prada, designer and fashion magnate

1. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” —Dr. Seuss, philosopher / connoisseur of colourful breakfasts


To make an appointment with Gaziano & Girling master shoemaker Daniel Wegan whilst in residence at Kevin Seah 11 & 12 September, contact info@kevinseah.com or phone +65 6532 2018. (All imagery courtesy of Gaziano & Girling.)

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Britain's best shoemakers Gaziano & Girling return to Singapore

Hello friends. We're delighted to announce that Gaziano & Girling will visit Singapore shortly for a bespoke and made-to-order trunk show, taking place on September 11 and 12 at the Kevin Seah Bespoke atelier, 5 Jalan Kilang.

Headquartered on that most storied sartorial street, Savile Row, with their workshop situated in Northamptonshire, Gaziano & Girling is regarded as Britain’s finest men’s shoemaker.

Founded in 2006 by Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling, G&G, as they’re known to the cognoscenti, specialise in superlative bespoke shoes, as well as handcrafted made-to-order and ready-to-wear footwear manufactured to a standard seldom seen outside full bespoke shoemaking.

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Considered to be one of the most outstanding shoemakers at work today, G&G’s Daniel Wegan (who this year took second place in the World Championships in Shoemaking) will be visiting Singapore in September for a trunk show hosted by Kevin Seah at our expansive new Jalan Kilang atelier. Daniel will be on hand each day to provide his expert advice and take commissions for bespoke and made-to-order shoes. 
 
Whether you desire a simple, classic Oxford, a more rococo, exotic-skin double-monkstrap, or a robust trek-friendly boot, Gaziano & Girling are equipped to cater to your any need. Providing comfort combined with a sleek aesthetic (their shoes have been described a critic as “a Ferrari on the outside, a town car on the inside”), while prices start at SG$2,500, supreme craftsmanship ensures this footwear will literally last a lifetime. Read our exclusive interview with Tony Gaziano, talking about his 'control freak' dedication to perfectionism, by clicking right here
 
To make an appointment with Daniel, or for more information, contact info@kevinseah.com or phone +65 6532 2018. 

Note: Kevin Seah is the sole Southeast Asian stockist of Gaziano & Girling footwear. An exclusive array of ready-to-wear G&G shoes is also available in store at the Kevin Seah atelier [MAP].

 Gaziano & Girling's Daniel Wegan: Master at Work. 

Gaziano & Girling's Daniel Wegan: Master at Work. 

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Time Gentlemen, Please: The Parallels Between Tailoring & Watchmaking

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Hello friends. Let’s put tailoring aside for a moment and talk watches, shall we?

We just held a vintage watch appreciation night, which I know some of you attended, showcasing unique classic timepieces from leading dealer Shawn Tan’s collection. That night, there were some lovely pieces on display from Shawn’s shop Heirloom Gallery, including examples from Patek Philippe, Rolex, TAG-Heuer, Omega, Vacheron Constantin, Zenith, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and many other iconic manufactures.

Watches of that sort aren’t inexpensive, but they’re beautifully and painstakingly crafted, made of precious materials, and they last decades, holding their value and representing real return on investment. I might add that they also look great — and if impressing people or displaying discernment are important to you, they act as potent status symbols and signifiers of connoisseurship, too.

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Sure, there are plenty of perfectly decent, functional watches out there that will look fine and tell the time. But are they long-term investments? Will they grow better looking as they age? Will they make you feel more confident and assured? Do they tell a story or express your taste? Are they works of art? The answer is: No.

It’s much the same with tailored clothing.

You can take the equivalent of the ‘cheap quartz’ route, if you like. Or spend a bit more and get the sartorial parallel of a bang-for-buck ‘beater’ automatic (like a Seiko SKX-007 — pretty good, but… well, it’s no Submariner). Alternatively, you can invest in something lovingly crafted from valuable materials, something with true lasting value and real ROI, something that improves with age, and that also happens to look beautiful on you.

The choice is yours.

Until next week…

—Kevin

LADIES & GENTLEMEN: Here’s Why You Need a Great Classic Blazer

 A Francis Cotes portrait of Admiral Harry Paulet ( metmuseum.org ), resplendent in gold-buttoned naval regalia. The modern blazer is a distant relative of 18th and 19th century British Royal Navy uniforms, its name believed to have been inspired by the frigate HMS  Blazer . 

A Francis Cotes portrait of Admiral Harry Paulet (metmuseum.org), resplendent in gold-buttoned naval regalia. The modern blazer is a distant relative of 18th and 19th century British Royal Navy uniforms, its name believed to have been inspired by the frigate HMS Blazer

The legendary men’s style author G. Bruce Boyer once wrote in The Rake magazine, “No question about it — easily dressed up or down, the perfect travel garment, the blazer is the most internationally civilised, adaptable, all-purpose and essential tailored item in a gentleman’s wardrobe.”

Per Mr. Boyer, the blazer is “the multipurpose jacket, at home in the boardroom or on board a yacht,” its greatest strength being the countless ways it can be styled.

Coupled with grey trousers, a crisp dress shirt and tie, and black oxfords, it is very much ‘the business’. Thrown on over chinos or jeans, with a polo shirt or OCBD (or even a plain t-shirt), the blazer jazzes up a casual ensemble, creating the perfect look for a weekend dinner. Rocked with a Breton stripe shirt, red pants and navy boat or driving shoes, it’s the epitome of Rivera chic. Sported with loafers, dark selvedge denim and a white shirt worn open-necked, the blazer forms the core of a tried-and-true uniform that will take you virtually anywhere.

The modern blazer is descended from British naval uniforms, hence the spiffy metal buttons and navy-blue hue that are key attributes of a quintessential blazer. For clients in sultry Singapore, our go-to cloth would be a lightweight Super 110s wool from Vitale Barberis Canonico’s Perennial collection. As for buttons, we offer an array from Benson & Clegg featuring a range of sporting, nautical, professional and military / nautical motifs, as well as plain gold or silver (some of which can be engraved for the ultimate in personalization).

To celebrate Singapore’s 200th birthday next year, why not have a blazer made with Bensons’ buttons [pictured here] carrying the crest of the British East India Company, Raffles’ employer when he founded the country in 1819?

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Concluding that same Rake article mentioned earlier, Boyer wrote, “In these parlous economic times, when even the most capricious of fashionistas have come to accept that we should ‘buy less, but buy better’, the one garment inarguably worth springing for is a fine blazer.”

It’s not just men who’d do well to invest in this versatile staple, either. No woman should be without a sharply cut blazer — coupled with a skirt or slacks and a shirt, it’s a workday wonder; with a white tee, faded jeans and a Chanel 2.55, it’s the very picture of Parisian sophistication. Unlike many tailors, I’m equally adept cutting for women or men, so please do pay us a visit to discuss your blazer needs, ladies. 

Until next week, go out in a blazer glory…

—Kevin

Avoid making this huge mistake when buying a suit

 Fused suiting is abhorrent. Noted sartorial enthusiast Bryan Ferry would surely agree with nothing more than this.

Fused suiting is abhorrent. Noted sartorial enthusiast Bryan Ferry would surely agree with nothing more than this.

Hello friends. “Let’s Stick Together” is a great Bryan Ferry song. But it’s a terrible way for a tailor to do things.

We’re talking, of course, about the modern industrial-sartorial travesty that is ‘fusing’ — glued canvassing.

Canvas, if you’re unaware, is the inner lining within the front of a jacket that provides the garment with its structure. In a good suit, it’s ‘floating’: affixed to the cloth with an intricate series of stitches. Sometimes it runs all the way down the front – that’s full canvassing. Sometimes it only extends to around the level of the top of the side pockets — that’s half canvassing.

“The easiest way to identify a well-made suit is the canvas,” our friend Simon Crompton explained on his blog Permanent Style a few years back. “The canvas can be sewn in, so it can move with you and your movements, or glued. Glue is cheaper and easier, but means the jacket will remain stiff and impersonal. Canvas adopts the shape of your body. It gives a natural roll to the front of the jacket and its lapels. You can always spot a glued or fused jacket because the lapels are flat and lifeless – over time the points will stand away from the jacket, such is their artificial stiffness.” 

With body heat and dry cleaning, a fused jacket will also quickly take on a bubbled effect, like sun-blistered paint, and need to be thrown out. It’s not only lifeless — it’s short-lived.

  Hand canvassing “gives a natural roll to the front of the jacket and its lapels,” says Simon Crompton of Permanent Style.

Hand canvassing “gives a natural roll to the front of the jacket and its lapels,” says Simon Crompton of Permanent Style.

Almost all inexpensive high-street suits are fused. So too is some pricey designer tailoring (shocking, I know) and ALL the crappy jackets sold by Asia’s countless cut-price 24-hour (so-called) ‘tailor’ shops. “Any good suit will have floating canvas in at least the top half of the jacket… It is the minimum standard you should expect,” according to Crompton, and we couldn't agree more (well, except in the case of ultra-unstructured, unlined and uncanvassed tailoring). How to tell if a jacket is hand canvassed? “You can feel the canvas if you separate the cloth somewhere in the chest of the jacket, pinching the inside and the outside material and feeling for an extra, loose layer between the two,” Simon says.

Maybe you don’t need a bespoke or made-to-measure suit. Not everyone does. But you must avoid a fused suit — and sadly, that’s how the majority of ready-to-wear tailoring is constructed. It’s fast and cheap, but makes for a jacket that won’t last long and hangs horribly on you during its all-too-brief lifespan. Far better to invest a little more in a garment that will gradually conform to your body and only grow better looking with time. Bryan Ferry may not have had a great run ‘sticking together’ with his women, but we’ve no doubt he’d tell you, a good suit is for life.

Until next week, Kevin

PS: We’re not dissing all fast and cheap things. Sometimes they’re great! I mean, have you tried Singaporean hawker food? Chicken rice, man — awesome. I just wouldn’t buy a suit from the ‘tailor’ next door to the food court...

How a tailor can make your dreams come true

 No matter how conservative a bespoke suit's basic design, there are still countless options available that allow a client to make it his own and express his tastes. 

No matter how conservative a bespoke suit's basic design, there are still countless options available that allow a client to make it his own and express his tastes. 

Hello friends. An interviewer recently asked me what the most interesting bespoke commission I’ve ever had was. It was a tough question to answer, because the fact is, every bespoke commission is interesting. They’re all different.

Even if it’s something more straightforward, like a navy or grey suit, or a wedding tuxedo, there are always quirky elements that reflect the client’s individual tastes, personality or lifestyle. Or cool ideas I’ve had, which the customer often becomes open to after their second or third whisky! Making one-off garments that express who the client really is… That’s among the greatest joys of being a bespoke tailor — and from the client’s perspective, it’s possibly the best thing about being a bespoke tailoring patron.

You can walk into a designer boutique and buy something that reflects a brand (and that probably won’t fit you so well). Or you can go to a bespoke tailor and collaborate on creating clothes that speak of who YOU are (which also happen to fit like a dream).

Within the basic bounds of a traditional suit and shirt, it’s possible to be endlessly creative. A velvet double-breasted smoking jacket lined with a vintage Hermes scarf… A sportscoat in camouflage flannel… A shantung silk, mandarin-collar dinner suit… A blazer in vicuna! Can make. (And have made.)

 Our brand director Christian Barker's despot-inspired suit. 

Our brand director Christian Barker's despot-inspired suit. 

But what the hell, man, bespoke isn’t just about suits. You wanna be the coolest dude on the golfcourse? How about some tailored check trousers with bad-ass pleats and a totally unique pique cotton polo shirt? A seersucker Harrington for the 19th hole. Or Loro Piana jeans and a matching denim jacket (the so-called ‘Texas Tux’) that fit you exquisitely? A Liberty-lined, linen safari jacket? A Cubano guayabera or a camp-collar Hawaiian shirt? Also can! Challenge yourself, challenge us — we’re raring to go. One of our clients just commissioned some bespoke floral cargo pants, they’re going to look brilliant. One of our team just made up a mandarin-collar glenplaid suit inspired by Bond villains and certain dictators’ style. (It’s Kim Jong ILL!)

Let’s go, guys. Ladies, too — don’t forget, we can make for you. Luxury brands are about buying into some designer’s “vision”. Bespoke is all about making YOUR dreams reality. The only boundaries are the breadth of your imagination.

Until next week,

Kevin

PS: If you must buy into a designer’s vision, try mine ;) Next week, we’ll be revealing imagery from the KEVIN SEAH BLACK lookbook shoot, showcasing our new, more youthful ready-to-wear range influenced by military garments, colonial style, angular Japanese fashion and the worlds of modern art, graffiti, skateboarding and surf culture. Like the Beastie Boys said, “It’s the new style” — “ch-ch-check it out!”

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How to buy a suit that will NEVER go out of style

Kevin Seah bespoke suits

Hello friends. As many of you will know from experience, here at Kevin Seah Bespoke, we favour a slightly wider lapel, like the four-inch example in the image at right. However it’s really down to proportions — a four-inch lapel will look skinny on a man of Schwarzenegger’s size, while on a slight guy, it might seem positively disco. 

The trick to buying a suit that will never fall out of fashion is ensuring the proportions are not only in key with your body size, but immune to trend. One of the most classically stylish men ever, Cary Grant put it well when he suggested that a gentleman should buy clothing “in the middle of fashion.”
 
He explained, “By that I mean they’re not self-consciously fashionable or far out, nor are they overly conservative or dated. In other words, the lapels are neither too wide nor too narrow, the trousers neither too tight nor too loose, the coats neither too short nor too long… simplicity, to me, has always been the essence of good taste.”

Writing for American magazine The Week in the early 1960s, Grant advised, “men’s clothes — like women’s — should attract attention to the best lines of a man’s figure and distract from the worst. In all cases, the most reliable style is in the middle of the road — a thoughtful sensible position in any human behavior. Except perhaps on the freeway — but, even then, the middle lane, providing of course, it’s on your side of the road, usually gets you where you’re going more easily, comfortably, and less disturbingly. And so it should be with clothes. They should be undisturbing, easy and comfortable.”

That’s one of the reasons why, at Kevin Seah Bespoke, we don’t have a strict ‘house style’ — instead, we cut suits to complement and flatter the individual client’s form. The athletic, broad-shouldered, wide-chested man will look better in an unstructured jacket with no roping at the shoulder, while the skinnier man will benefit from a bit of built-up shoulder padding. We’re happy to make either style, or something in between, with the lapel shape and width that suits you best.

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Get the proportions perfect for you, right down the middle of the road (as Mr Grant did with his famous grey suit from 1959’s North by Northwest, pictured here, a timeless sartorial classic that could easily be worn today), and you’ll have a suit that looks as sharp in 2018 as it will decades from now. 

Unless you’re an ideal 5’11” size 38 Regular, that might be difficult to purchase off the rack, so we suggest making an appointment with a good bespoke tailor. You won’t often find fashion-proof tailored perfection sold cash’n’Cary!
 
Until next week,
Kevin

PS: Did you know that Cary Grant used to have his jacket shoulders cut broader than usual to make his abnormally large head look smaller? Next week we’ll provide advice on how the height-challenged man can appear taller through the magic of tailoring. Let us know what else you’d like to see covered in future — email me: kevin@kevinseah.com

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How to look slimmer (without the inconvenience of exercise or dieting)

Hello friends. We all work hard and it’s only fair that we reward ourselves by indulging in the finer things in life. Unfortunately, hard work means we often don’t find enough time for exercise, and along with good food and wine, that has an impact on the waistline. Luckily, clever tailoring can help you maintain a relatively slim appearance, even if you have put on a bit of weight.
 
Of course, there’s a limit to what a tailor can achieve. We’re not plastic surgeons. We are more like magicians, directing the viewer’s focus and creating the illusion of a more svelte physique.
 
A highly effective tool is pinstripe-patterned cloth (like the Vitale Barberis Canonico pictured below), which will help give a sense of length and draw the eye along a vertical line. Pinstripe or plain, the stout should always wear darker colours. A big man in a white jacket? Forget it. It’s going to magnify him by 30 percent. The larger guy should avoid shiny cloth (go for a matte fabric, it’s more stylish anyway), and if he’s considering a check, make it a small, all-over pattern, like a fine glen plaid.

 A grey pinstripe cloth (like this one, from VBC) will help visually slim you down.

A grey pinstripe cloth (like this one, from VBC) will help visually slim you down.

As for suit styling, be careful with patch pockets, they can broaden the hips. Inset pockets could be savvier. Contrary to common belief, double-breasted suits can actually be very flattering on the larger man. The person looking at you will focus on the buttons, rather than the silhouette of the jacket. It’s a visual effect, a diversion.
 
Don’t wear your clothing tight — that will just accentuate any bulges. Baggy trousers are a no-no, but a slightly roomier pleated pant (fastening at the natural waist) will be much more flattering than a flat front, where often the belly protrudes over the top. Not pretty.
 
Speaking of bulging bellies, I’m in Japan right now, appreciating the work of the country’s many artisanal craftspeople — and amazing chefs. After a few days of Japanese culinary indulgence, it might be high time to make myself a new charcoal pinstripe suit when I get back!
 
Until next week,
—Kevin
 
PS: Landing in Tokyo today, we were so honoured to see Kevin Seah Bespoke featured in The Rake Japan’s write-up on the Singapore sartorial scene. Order a copy of the new issue and take a look. Arigatou gozaimasu! 

You Look Best in a Jacket — But Here's How to Stay Sharp in a Shirt

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Dear friends, welcome to the first of my new weekly newsletters. Let’s kick things off talking about suits and shirts, shall we?

It’s a fact: A man looks his best in a jacket. In the two centuries since Beau Brummell innovated the modern suit, tailors have pretty much perfected this garment, creating an item of clothing that hides a man’s imperfections and emphasises his better attributes, widening his shoulders and flattening his belly — making the short man stand tall and the average guy stand out. They say a suited gentleman has the same effect on women as a lady in lingerie has on males. Most of that’s down to the jacket — it’s magic.

Still, despite the fact that here at the Kevin Seah atelier, we make suit jackets, blazers and sports coats that are breezy, breathable and light as a feather, a lot of our clients prefer just to wear a nice tailored shirt. Okay, lah. If that’s what you’re after, we’ll craft you a beautiful made-to-measure or bespoke shirt from your choice of our incredible range of cloth.

We’ve just received the latest collection of fine cottons from Switzerland’s Alumo, which our friend Simon Crompton of Permanent Style says is “the best-known shirting name outside Italy. It is both a mill and a merchant, weaving everything itself … Alumo produces some very fine shirtings, but tends to be more classic in its collections”. Alumo turns out around a million yards of cloth per year — we’ll use a little less than two metres of that to make you a lovely shirt. (Prices for made-to-measure in Alumo cotton start around SG$400, bespoke from SG$650.)

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We also suggest you take a look at cloth from Italy’s Grandi & Rubinelli. “With a core team of just 35 people, all of its fabrics are produced on fewer than 15 looms,” Sonia Glyn Nicholson wrote on Parisian Gentleman (another sartorial-focused website we highly recommend). “Yet, even with its modest size, the Grandi & Rubinelli name has become known for design acumen and textile mastery. On the outskirts of Milan, high grade American Supima and West Indies Sea Island and Egyptian cotton are woven to produce very select shirting. Natural fibers like cotton, linen, wool, cashmere, and silk are sourced with two-ply yarn to ensure strength properties. Thread counts (number of threads per square inch) can reach as high as the 200s.”

You know we’ve just opened our new atelier on Jalan Kilang, right? Come visit, sit down, relax, have a whisky — and get your shirt together. Ha!

Until next week,

—Kevin

PS: Have you seen the movie Borg vs. McEnroe? Amazing seventies tennis style. I’m getting inspired for some new polo shirts. Let us know what you’d like to see in our range, email me at kevin@kevinseah.com

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We're hiring: KEVIN SEAH seeks a superb Public Relations Executive

Our globally renowned, fast-growing tailoring and fashion company is rapidly expanding its business locally and internationally. We’re currently recruiting an eloquent, presentable individual to act as a key brand ambassador, dealing with VIP clients and press (Singaporean and global), monitoring media coverage, managing CRM, coordinating social media outreach, and helping manage our numerous exclusive events.

Reporting to the Marketing & Brand Director, the successful candidate must possess excellent communication skills, both verbal and written (fluent English is essential, as the role requires frequent dealings with media in the UK and US, as well as English-language press in Singapore; Mandarin is also a big plus, in order to converse with press and clients from mainland China). They should be highly organised, personable, well presented and confident.

We value relevant professional experience and personality fit over formal academic qualifications (though an applicable degree will certainly be looked upon favourably) and ideally seek someone with 3+ years experience in a PR/advertising/events agency, lifestyle media, or luxury retail / hospitality. Pre-existing relationships with leading Singaporean media would be an advantage. Superb interpersonal skills and common sense are a must.

A candidate who could act as an ambassador for the Kevin Seah group’s women’s bespoke tailoring / clothing line would be ideal. 

Please send your CV with a brief cover email (no more than 400 words) explaining why you’re perfect for the job to Christian Barker, Marketing & Brand Director: christian@kevinseah.com