A LESSON ON CRAFTSMANSHIP
In this special feature with The Prestigious Bespoke Tailors, we discover the importance of craftsmanship and how master tailor Mr.Thomas Wong has gone from crafting bespoke suits to creating a bright future for a new generation of tailors
Tailoring has a long history that dates back to the 1100s and was solely taught through apprenticeship – where masters take on younger tailors and teach them how to create perfect garments. It is through years of rigorous training and hands-on experience with a master tailor that a fine level of craftsmanship is achieved, ensuring each piece produced stands the test of time.
In Singapore, the most respected personality in bespoke tailoring is university lecturer Mr. Thomas Wong. A SkillsFuture Fellow, Mr. Wong is a driving force in his industry, giving rise to a new generation of tailors. Of course, he is met with challenges along the way, especially with changing consumer demands and the proliferation of fast fashion, which suits the fast-paced lifestyle of consumers today.
“In striving for efficiency and urged on by consumer demands, tailoring underwent significant evolution during the late 1960s
to the early 2000s, to the extent that the existence of authentic tailoring was almost eroded,” reveals Mr. Wong. “From full canvassed jackets, we adopted machinefused suits so that production time can be cut from days to minutes. The rise in productivity moved hand in hand with the decline of knowledge, expertise, and genuine experience.”
Mr. Wong is hopeful though and shares, “As a lecturer, there is a global revival in the craft of tailoring. However, the individuals who have a true passion for it are few and far between. At The Prestigious, we have the primary focus of nurturing authentic tailoring and every team member must possess a passion for the art and have a desire for improvement. By building on their personal love and respect for the craft, and their desire for growth, I am able to challenge them to craft out commissions that meet my standards.”
THE LEGACY OF CRAFT CONTINUES
At The Prestigious, the house seeks to nurture talent, as well as provide its team members an avenue for professional development. Take for example Ms. Joyan Chan, who has been training under Mr. Wong for the past eight years. The path she has taken at The Prestigious is an inspiring one – progressing from university student to an apprentice, and finally a partner alongside Mr Wong.
“As the next generation of tailors, we play an important role as keepers of a venerated craft. With a fine grasp on craftsmanship, we are able to offer the dapper man a chance to own something that fits perfectly and reproduce elegant styles and patterns that are impractical for mass manufacturers to make,” says Ms. Chan.
Ms. Chan also believes that there are no shortcuts in bespoke tailoring. “You shouldn’t expect that by skipping a few steps you’d still get the desired results. The creation process is satisfying and exciting when you know that every step has been done and you are one step closer to bringing the suit to life. If I miss one step, no matter how insignificant, I will redo it again.”
By upholding craftsmanship, a tailor sets him or herself up to very high standards. “As a tailor, a ‘just fine’ result is a failure,” confesses Ms. Chan. “While most men can look passable in an off-the-rack suit, there is no such thing as standardized body proportions. We are humans and not mannequins, so the end goal for how a suit fits on anyone should be like second skin.”