From the fabric choice to the cut and colour, a suit sums up a man. So before you go and get a tailored, Aishah interviewed a Savile Row-trained tailor to get the low down on the little things you need to know about making a suit.
A well-tailored suit is like a suit of armour that literally shows you everything you need to know about the wearer. That is why the first rule of making a suit is to find an exceptional tailor that knows what is best for your body while matching your personal taste.
Your tailor should be your friend. Actually, anybody that has a skillset that helps and satisfies you should be your friend. Your hairdresser, the barista at your favourite coffee shop, even the uncle that changes the soles of your shoes by the shoplot corridors. I learned that from my grandfather who despite living in Malaysia, ordered his suits from the same shop on Savile Row.
It is safe to say, his tailor is his friend. Which is one of the lessons I learned while interviewing local tailor, Ian Chang of Bespoked. He’s been making suits for more than 10 years and had interned under the tailoring masters of Savile Row. Which is why he brought that regal London elegance back when he opened Bespoked in 2008, evident in his shop’s atmosphere and decor.
First Question To Ask Yourself: What Is The Occasion?
Try not to enter a tailor and ask for a black suit. Be more specific. The common three types are ceremonial which covers events like weddings, black tie functions or even the Academy Awards. Then there is the suit for work or for businessmen. Another type is your day suit that allows for more room to move.
From there, it is easier for your tailor to literally tailor a suit that fits your personality. “When you walk into Bespoked, my partner and I, first thing we will do is a short Q&A because we need to understand the customer,” said Ian. Whether you are a corporate guy or a fashion peacock, once the occasion is set, the rest will fall into place.
Favours for Fabrics
Next is a suitable fabric to match is up next. The type of material like wool or velvet are important but there are other things to consider like the weight and thread count of the fabric. For day suits, the weight range is 260-280 grams with a thread count in the ballpark of 110-130. Ian explains that anything above the thread count of 130 is in the luxury range.
“Above 130, the fabric is soft and thin. People who go for a higher thread count are the people that wear the suit maybe once a month. For people that use for everyday work, is not suitable to use this kind of fabric,” said Ian as he showed me the fabric swatches of his shop.
Of course for men who wear their suits almost every day, movement and durability are key. Ian shows me the newest fabric made for that called Exel. It is a unique fabric with a natural elastic that allows some stretch without using Lycra which does not retain its shape over time.
“So for day suits, since there is a lot of movement, you need something stretchable. A lot of brands now are using stretchable fabric.
It’s The Inside That Matters
Another part of the suit that is overlooked is the lining. Many linings nowadays are made from viscose though there are some traditionalist that still use silk. Ian showed me fabric swatches from a place in England called Huddersfield that features fabric lining with cheeky designs from comic characters to pin up dolls. He can even customize to do a half lining for wearers that move a lot in their suits and fear it might get too hot with a full lining.
To Fuse or Not To Fuse?
Have you ever thought about the construction of a suit? How it holds it shapes and how the fabrics come together? “We have two types of workmanship, fuse and non-fuse. Fuse is when the fabrics on the inside are glued together using a machine. It’s a faster way to make a suit,” said Ian as he showed me the innards of an unfinished suit.
However, if you favour craftsmanship, non-fuse is when the outside and inside fabric are hand-stitched together, making a suit that retains its structure for years to come. Ian explained that the non-fuse method will take more than a month to complete but it will last for a very long time.
Put A Button On It
Never overlook the details of a button. The buttons available at Bespoked are made from cow horn, shiny polished gems in a variety of shade to compliment your jacket sleeve. Then there is the mother of pearl and even shell buttons that come in hues ranging from murky brown to pearly white. The ostentatious can go for gold of silver plated button, many with a sort of emblem in the middle.
A touch of personality apart from the lining can be seen on an extra lapel pin placed on one side of the lapel featuring gold buttons or pins with floral design to bring out the dandy in you. Ian’s fitted green jacket was embellished with a black and gold round button, proudly perched on his left lapel, adding a sort of signature touch to a classic garment.
Bespoked | Ground Floor Promenade, One Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya
Tailoring suits for the traditional businessmen as well as fashion forward, Ian Chang came from humble roots to make his way up to become one of Malaysia’s premier suit makers. He and his partner Jerrick Lee make suits with an eye for craftsmanship and the occasional element of surprise, may it be a colourful lining or a bold colour on a traditional suit. If it’s your first time making a suit, the men of Bespoked will take good care of you.