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

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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.”

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