A gentleman’s pursuit
> In touch with his English roots, Joshua Fitton is on the way to make bespoke tailoring his strong suit
MANY may struggle to correlate between a streetwear brand and bespoke menswear label. But despite the disparity of style, Tempatan and Atelier Fitton are projects personal to founder Joshua Fitton, both paying homage to his mixed heritage and the philosophy he picked up during his tenure in architecture.
Tempatan may have ceased operations, but in its lifespan, Fitton went out of his way to ensure that the T-shirts he produced would live up to the brand name in every sense. Intricacies include highlighting his T-shirts with batik pockets, graphics of old local stamps and coordinates of Kuala Lumpur landmarks; as well as making sure they were made and printed in Malaysia.
With all the thoughts he poured into the T-shirts, Tempatan hit the ground running and was soon stocked in stores across Peninsular Malaysia, earning Fitton more than his day job paid him and an invitation to showcase at the 2014 Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW).
The opportunity led the former architect to explore beyond Tshirts in order to present a “collection”. What began as a weekend project just for fun, evolved into a premium and more holistic line Fitton would christen Tempatan Black. The making of the latter was essential in shaping today’s Atelier Fitton, as the 29-year-old divulged in a tête-à-tête with us.
Tell us about the formation of Atelier Fitton. The whole Tempatan Black period, I was learning how to make things. While making two suits for the first collection, I was impressed with the work that goes into them. The obsession of needing to know how things are put together got me learning about suits more.
It was a good transition because the hype surrounding local streetwear died down after that. Last year, I decided to make my clothes more personal. I wanted to call it Atelier Fitton, but it was a bit too late for KLFW 2015 so we went with Tempatan Black by Atelier Fitton. It was officially Atelier Fitton this year.
What was the transition like, from designing streetwear to crafting bespoke menswear? For suit-making, I haven’t gone for formal classes so it’s all self-taught and through talking to old tailors. I love talking to them. I would walk up to an empty tailor shop and have a conversation with the bored looking old Chinese man for two to three hours. They’re so approachable and happy to teach, and I think they love it that a young person cares about what they do. YouTube and reading helped too.
It’s not everyday that you see kilts, turbans and ponchos from a menswear label. What’s the story behind your Spring/ Summer 2017 collection? My parents, younger sister and I are hardly ever in the same place at the same time. My father’s a geologist; he travels a lot and used to work in Cape Town, Africa, so at one time we had many family holidays in Africa. I concentrated this collection on how our family has to travel to see each other. The tribal inspirations came from across the region. The turban is inspired by a tribe in northern Sahara. The kilt is still Scottish, but this year it has a overthe-shoulder wrap which is semi-inspired by the Maasai tribe. The nose feathers have nothing to do with Africa, but are influenced by a tribe in Papua New Guinea. The storyline behind the campaign is about this guy who goes on a solo camping trip in the name of selfdiscovery. He’s not exploring his surroundings but who he is – it reflects what I’m going through as a designer.
Suits are not exactly known for being tropics-friendly. Tell us about the fabrics that you play with. In keeping with how Tempatan started, my belief in design and making things appropriate for where it’s worn and built need to be taken into consideration.
We use a lot of wool. People say that wool is thick, but when it’s finely woven it is lighter hence more breathable. Wool is actually very forgiving when you’re sweating – moisture evaporates faster. Any natural material – such as cotton and linen – is breathable, and all our shirts are made of either.
For suits in a cheaper range, you need to have some polyster (wool blends). If a customer can afford it, I’d push for pure wool. The price difference is not that much – we start at RM3,000 and for another RM500 you can get pure wool: alpaca, cashmere or silk wool blends.
Celebrities aside, who are your clients? Young professionals – the guy that has new shoes to fill in. A lot of them are actually growing in a firm and taking over the family business. I make them look the part.
Lastly, how do we shop Atelier Fitton? We’re making shirts that are readyto-wear, which will be on sale in November. Now we have shirts, pocket squares and a few ties being sold on our website.
Suit-wise, I won’t produce offthe-rack because the whole point of making suits is to make them fit. We are a concierge service. That guy that I described would not have time to go to the tailor. We go to people’s homes, offices, hotel rooms, even cafes and restaurants to have fittings!
The opening look of Fitton’s shows always features the kilt, as a tribute to his Scottish grandmother.
Joshua Fitton loves the fast-paced nature of fashion because it keeps him on his toes.