A gen­tle­man’s pur­suit

> In touch with his English roots, Joshua Fit­ton is on the way to make be­spoke tai­lor­ing his strong suit

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FASHION - BY RACHEL LAW

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.

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