Tai­lor­ing suits Tok

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - People - By BERVIN CHEONG star2@thes­tar.com.my

EV­ERY­ONE wants to turn a hobby into a full­time busi­ness.

Well, tailor Jeremy Tok has achieved it – but he is say­ing that the ex­pe­ri­ence he went through was not as easy as imag­ined.

“I’ve never worked in re­tail or a tai­lor­ing shop be­fore this. So I had no clue on run­ning such a busi­ness. To think about it now, I must have been quite crazy to at­tempt such a thing,” says the 36-year-old.

Tok is a grad­u­ate with a master’s de­gree in me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing from Ger­many. Af­ter work­ing in Malaysia as a project man­ager for man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies, he then left his job to be­come a tailor.

“It’s worth it be­cause of the tremen­dous per­sonal change. I don’t think you should live life for com­fort. And the tai­lor­ing trade has forced me to change, to do things I never thought I would do.”

Born and raised in Kuantan, Pa­hang, Tok ac­tu­ally taught him­self how to con­struct his own jacket first. That led to him se­cur­ing his ap­pren­tice­ship with a coat maker in Kuala Lumpur.

“Af­ter work and on week­ends, I’d sew at home, draft­ing and cut­ting. Even­tu­ally I had a jacket with­out sleeves. I was quite proud of it. I showed it around to a cou­ple of tai­lors and it caught their at­ten­tion,” he re­lates.

Ac­cord­ing to him, he has al­ways been in­trigued with tai­lor­ing. He was very ac­tive in on­line fo­rums back then, where peo­ple would take pic­tures of the suits they had made and post them up.

“I gave them my thoughts, and they even­tu­ally in­vited me to their fit­tings. I guess they wanted a sec­ond opin­ion. It made sense, as suits are gen­er­ally seen as large pur­chases.”

Tok founded his tai­lor­ing busi­ness only about five years ago. As he still had a nineto-five day job then, he fit­ted his cus­tomers in ho­tel rooms that he booked over the week­ends.

“At one point, I was con­tacted by some­one from Brunei, a menswear shop that sells shoes and shirts. For my first trip there, I sold four suits. Yet I still wasn’t sure whether I could do it,” he states.

To­day, Tok com­mutes daily from his home in Bukit Tinggi, Pa­hang, to his de­sign stu­dio in Da­mansara Per­dana, Petaling Jaya.

He sees cus­tomers only by ap­point­ment, which can be made via his web­site jere­my­tok.com.

“I see the busi­ness of tai­lor­ing as sort of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween cus­tomers and the tailor. A be­spoke suit is cer­tainly a spe­cial piece of cloth­ing that you can own,” he con­cludes.

— SA­MUEL ONG/The Star

Engi­neer-turned-tailor Tok thinks that you have to step out of your com­fort zones in life.

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