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

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

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!