Edit Suits Co.: The Singapore-founded, London-based tailors shaking up the local scene with affordable, made-to-measure suits for men and women

Edit Suits Co.: The Singapore-founded, London-based tailors shaking up the local scene with affordable, made-to-measure suits for men and women

Perfect fit

Text: Ryan Sng

Interview: Jolene Khor

It will come as a surprise to nobody that Singapore's fashion scene is dominated by brands imported from abroad. There are a few names that reverse the natural order of things, however, like Edit Suits Co., a Singapore-founded made-to-measure business that has disrupted the tailoring scene with its abundant offerings and wallet-friendly prices since 2014.

Offering three thousand body fabric options from the likes of Loro Piana, Zegna, and other premium textile suppliers, two hundred lining options, and four hundred button varieties to choose from, Edit Suits Co. is more than prepared to make any man's — and soon, any woman's — sartorial dreams reality. In anticipation of their upcoming womenswear rollout, we spoke to Director/Country Manager Jeroen Develter and Senior Outfitter/Style Consultant Syafiq Bin Rafizi about creating affordably priced custom tailoring, Singaporean men's fashion quirks, and the challenges of selling suiting in sunny Singapore.

What is Edit Suits Co.’s backstory?
Jeroen Develter (JD):
We’re a made-to-measure menswear tailor, which was founded in 2014 by two Swiss expatriates, Patrick Jungo and Reto Peter. They used to study together in Zurich, then reconnected in Singapore, where they had the idea to start Edit Suits Co.

What led them to create a tailoring business in Singapore?
Reto always felt that he was overpaying for off-the-rack suits from Europe, which didn’t fit well. He also noticed that while it was easier to get a suit made in Asia, tailors offered very dated styles. He wanted to combine the cost-effectiveness of Asian custom tailoring with contemporary European style. Edit Suits Co. first opened in Singapore — which is a great market for start-ups — and later expanded into London.

Why specialise in made-to-measure suits in Singapore? Tailoring is not generally suited — no pun intended — to the climate, nor is Singapore known as a menswear capital.
It’s true that Singapore isn’t ideal ‘suit country’, in that the weather makes it difficult to wear suits outdoors. But there are a lot more people than you’d think who need suits, for work and formal events. Also, Singaporeans travel a lot. The need for tailoring is not going away anytime soon; Singapore’s market might be smaller than others, but there’s a need to be served here.

How has Edit Suits Co. grown since 2014?
We’re now well established in London, and are probably the biggest made-to-measure tailor in Singapore. We’re still trying to expand our clientele, our product offering, and our supplier base, while staying lean infrastructure-wise. We don’t have a fancy boutique on Orchard Road, but work out of the second storey of a shophouse. We keep our overheads low by avoiding unnecessary retail costs, buying our fabrics directly from the mill, and delivering directly to our consumer. That allows us to offer our clients competitive pricing, even on exclusive fabrics that you won’t find anywhere else.

Edit Suits Co.

And are there any adaptations that Edit Suits Co. makes for the Singaporean market? Or are there any client preferences that differ from those other countries?
Singapore has made us consider casual style seriously, especially in terms of lightweight fabrics for chinos and shirts. We’re even looking into tailoring shorts now.
Syafiq Bin Rafizi (SR): Given that the Singaporean client — broadly speaking — dresses more casually than clients from other markets, we see many of them restyle their suit jackets with chinos or jeans.

As a tailor, how do you meet all these markets’ different tastes and needs?
A lot of it has to do with our extensive selection of fabrics. We have an inventory of around three thousand textiles, of all compositions, weaves, textures, and patterns. We can basically make suits in any fabric, whether that’s a lightweight, 190 gsm (grams per square metre) fabric or a winter-weight, 320 gsm one.

Edit Suits Co.

It must be quite daunting for clients to customise a suit with so many options on an iPad menu. How does that work, exactly?
Clients can schedule — and reschedule [laughs] — a fitting session from our website, where there’s also a short questionnaire to help us understand what you’re looking for.
SR: By that stage, we’re already narrowing down fabric ranges by occasion and budget. At the first hour-long consultation, we spend about twenty minutes evaluating a client’s preferences when it comes to colour, patterns, and finer details like lining — some people like theirs really fancy, for example. If a client doesn’t really have a strong sense of what they want, we’ll show them some preselected colour palettes to make things easier for them.

Do most men know what they want when they walk through the door?
Around 80% of our clients walk in and tell us: “I need to buy a suit – maybe a blue one, perhaps green, but I just need to buy a suit”. Grooms usually walk in wanting to stand out and be different, although we advise them to stick to timeless styles — with some quirky, personalised details — that can be worn after the wedding. If not, it’s a waste of money and a perfectly tailored garment. 
JD: That’s what we offer that I think other tailors lack in Singapore. We like explaining things to our clients to help them make informed decisions, whether that’s the difference between half canvas and a full canvas, between peak and notch lapels, or how types of wool produce varying effects. At Edit Suits Co., it’s about learning at the same time as buying the perfect suit for yourself. Most tailors allow you to choose basic cuts, fabrics, and linings, but decide on everything else for you. That’s not really customisation, at least to us.

So our readers know, what exactly is full canvas and half canvas? 
JD: Suit jackets require internal support to hold shape; lightweight jackets generally need full canvas, and heavier jackets half. Often, if you buy suits off-the-rack, the inside of the suit is fused, which means that a support layer is glued on. The disadvantage of inexpensive, synthetic fusing is that, over time — especially if you steam your suit a lot or live in a humid climate — the adhesive will loosen and cause bubbling on the surface. Fusing shortens the lifespan of your suit. Cotton and horsehair canvas, on the other hand, is usually stitched into the suit rather than glued into it. Canvas helps the garment drape more naturally than fused garments.

Do you guys always go into that much detail when dispensing advice to clients?
Even when clients go with the safe choices, like choosing plain, brown horn buttons — again, around 80% of our clients end up choosing those — we like explaining to them why they’re the ‘default’ option; buffalo horn just doesn’t clash with any accessories like shoes and belts.

Edit Suits Co.

Do you ever disagree with clients? Or have to let them down gently when they give you a reference points — e.g. “I want to look like Bradley Cooper” — that are unrealistic?
Some guys want to look like Tom Ford in a tuxedo, but as their tailor, I’d prefer that their suits be comfortable; you can go for that Tom Ford look, but have to be aware that it often comes at the expense of comfort.
JD: It’s like when you see Conor McGregor wearing suits with super-high armholes and tight sleeves. It’s so uncomfortable, and you have to inform your client that if they want their suit to be that way, they’ll have to sacrifice ease and movement.

Going off that, how can you tell if a suit is a good one? What are the telltale signs of a badly made suit?
Jacket and trouser lengths are really important. Also, when shoulders are ill-fitted, you get fabric wrinkling under them. Oh, and when it comes to jacket sleeves, you always need to show a little bit of the cuff. Those are the big ones for me.

Do you ever encounter clients who go against your best advice?
We have a lot of “I told you so” moments. I will never say no to a request, but just because I’m giving in doesn’t mean I lose; I win the argument when the final product arrives, because they usually realise we were right. [Laughs]

It’s interesting that, while people say there are no rules left in fashion, there still seem to be so many in the world of tailoring. What do you guys think about that? 
SR: I recently attended a runway show where a young designer sent out a suit with three zippered sleeves, only one of which was functional. It was interesting, but that’s not really what we’re about at Edit Suits Co. I do see some of my peers in the industry remodeling their standards to match trends — for example shortening jacket lengths because that’s the way K-Pop stars like wearing theirs. 
JR: I think functionality is at the core of our DNA. As we’ve mentioned, so many people walk through our doors saying: “I need a suit”. That tells me they’re not looking for anything too out-there, because that’s not what function is. The future of tailoring lies mostly in fabric technology, like crease-resistant wools.

Do you guys offer washable suits?
No, we don’t.
JR: It’s tough finding high quality fibers that have those qualities. Plenty of people ask for shirting fabrics that are totally stain-proof, and sure, they exist, but the feel of it is just going to be horrible, like wearing plastic. We obviously don’t want to compromise on that. But technology is heading in that direction, and we’ll probably have those high-quality, value-add fabrics in the near future.

Moving on to the finer details... what can you tell me about local preferences? 
SR: When it comes to finishing, a lot of Singaporean men forego pick-stitching, which is more traditional — some would even say stuffy.

Wait, isn’t Jeroen wearing a pick-stitched suit?
Yes, I am, but I’ll let that shade slide. [Laughs]
SR: Also, plenty of our clients ask for embroidered messages or text in their wedding jackets, like their wedding hashtags.

Do I detect a hint of disapproval in your voice?
They’re just really cliché sometimes. [Laughs] “I could never live without you” for wedding jackets, “Winners never quit” for work suits, that kind of thing.

Is there anything else you’d like to dissuade people against?
SR: Not dissuade against, exactly, but a lot of men ask for side adjusters on trousers just because they feel they’re in trend. If you’re not comfortable using them, don’t get them. Honestly, that advice goes for everything. 
JD: I like side adjusters for the convenience. You don’t have to worry about wearing a belt, and matching it to your shoes.

What new ranges can we expect from Edit Suits Co. in the future?
At the moment, our biggest pushes are for womenswear and corporate uniforms. Womenswear was already part of our offering, but our approach to it was obviously not as well developed as that of our menswear, which we’ve pretty much perfected. When men walk into Edit Suits Co., they can fully customise their suit via an iPad. Now, we have to replicate that system for women. Uniform-wise, in the past year we’ve worked on both menswear and womenswear uniforms for Tiffany & Co. and Omega.

What about pockets? For womenswear, that’s quite a hot-button topic.
If our clients don't use their back pockets — I only use mine for receipts and wrappers, and forget to take them out before washing — we advise them not to have any or just have them on one side. For functional front pockets, we offer both slanted and vertical/dummy pockets; we advise against the latter, though, as they tend to drag when you put heavy objects like phones in them.

Yup, like all the lame pockets in women’s clothes. Welcome to our world.
JD: You’ll have to come back once our womenswear service is launched, we’ll promise you functional pockets. [Laughs]

Dress with pockets meme

Edit Suits Co. is located at 35 Duxton Road, Level 2. For more details and to make an appointment, click here.