Norman Tan, editor-in-chief of Buro 24/7 Singapore, samples the new tailor in town and speaks to head fashion consultant, Ricky Rawat, about The Bespoke Club difference
So you've decided to buy a bespoke suit. Congrats. There is nothing more flattering (or powerful) on a gentleman than a well-tailored suit. But with a plethora of tailors available on our sunny shores, the question remains: Where to go?
The Bespoke Club* opened its doors in Singapore late last year and offering fully hand-made suits at an affordable price — not to mention a store outfitted like a gentlemen's parlour complete with leather Chesterfield sofas and mahogany fittings — it quickly found favour with Singapore's sartorial elite; from savvy business men to the local fashion set. Naturally, my interest was piqued. I had to give this new tailor a spin.
After a thorough initial consultation — numerous measurements, meticulous fabric selection, and a prolonged debate over lining choices and buttons — I decided on a three-piece suit cut from a Marzoni wool-and-linen blend in striking red tartan. (Go big or go home, I say.) Details? Single-breasted blazer with peak lapels (half-lined with European double-vents); double-breasted waistcoat (backed with baby blue lining); and a no-pleat straight trouser finished with a classic one-and-a-quarter inch cuff. Everything cut short and truncated for that modern silhouette.
All in all, the whole process from initial fitting to final delivery took seven weeks; with the final suit conveniently delivered to our pop-up store in Scotts Square to save me from making another trip. "It's usually takes five weeks all up," says Ricky Rawat, head fashion consultant of The Bespoke Club. "But for you, since you had a few more requests and last minute alterations, it took a little bit longer." Read: Norman you are a drainer.com/superfussy. (Guilty!) But hey, good to know that they cater for sticklers too. And the final result? Love my three-piecer. This one's coming with me to fashion week.
At my final fitting, I spoke to Rawat about the construction details behind each suit, creating cool suits for Singapore's humid clime, and The Bespoke Club difference.
A CONSIDERED PROCESS: FROM FITTINGS TO FINAL DELIVERY
Talk us through the process at The Bespoke Club. How many measurements do you take? In order to save time and minimise fittings, we take the maximum number of measurements at the first fitting, which ranges from 22 to 27 measurements, depending on the customer's unique body type. This way, we don't need customers to try on a half-done suit, which only requires more measurements and delays the whole process. Ideally, we aim to try to deliver the suit after the first fitting itself or the second, maximum.
On average, how much would a two-piece suit cost? It totally depends on the fabric but starting price is from $950 for a fully bespoke hand-made suit.
And then a three-piece suit? Approximately $1,250.
Where are they made? All our suits are hand-made in Hong Kong. There are somewhere between 7,000 to 9,000 stitches needed to make a two-piece bespoke suit. That's approximately 50 hours of handiwork.
If the suits are handmade in Hong Kong, how do you ensure the tailors take into account the unique contours of each client to ensure a perfect fit? In addition to taking numerous measurements and notes, we also take pictures of the client from multiple angles to capture his body posture. These are then carefully communicated to our tailors in Hong Kong who cut the fabric. And then the suit is delivered in four weeks for final fitting and adjustments, which are all done in Singapore.
COOL SUITS FOR SINGAPORE
How many fabrics are offered at The Bespoke Club? For a suit, or for a shirt, we have more than 5,000 fabrics.
And these fabrics, they're all from European mills? Yes, all European.
Do you have fabrications suitable for Singapore's humid weather? Such as linen and cotton blends? Definitely. Since we are based in Singapore, we have a lot of clients that want something on the lighter side. Most of the time they don't want to go for wool. But we still have wool, including super cool wool and wool blends — such as wool with linen, wool with mohair. And at the same time, if a customer is very particular about the quality of the fabric and wants to use wool, we offer half-lined or unlined jackets, for extra breathability. Also, we can make a zero gravity suit with no padding inside. It's all about catering to the local humid weather.
What's a zero gravity suit? A zero gravity suit is a very unique concept that we have launched in the Singapore market. The only place you'll find a zero gravity suit is at TBC. It's totally unconstructed — we're just using the fabric — and it's as light as a shirt.
BENEFITS OF BESPOKE: FIT AND PERSONALISATION
What are the benefits of ordering a bespoke suit compared to something purchased off-the-rack? It's all about fit. Creating something that fits your unique contours — be it a slanted shoulder or the asymmetry of someone's posture — so that the bespoke suit fits like a glove; as opposed to an off-the-rack suit that is made according to a generic template.
And also personalisation to create something special? Exactly. The details, like what kind of pockets do you want? Do you want to see a flap or a normal slit pocket? Do you want your pockets slanted? Would you like to have a blazer with peak lapels or trousers with turn-ups? It's about choosing all the design details and fabrics, lining, piping and buttons to create something that is unique to you and your taste preferences.
Is there anything you can't do or is everything totally customisable? Everything is totally customisable. Crazy ideas are always welcome at The Bespoke Club, but at the same time, being a consultant it's our job to tell a customer whether their idea is going to look good or not. But at the end of the day, the customer has full control. We'll tell them of our concerns, but if they still want to go ahead with a particular decision, it's up to them.
What should people consider before getting a bespoke suit made? Most of the time people come in here don't have an idea about they want to order. The very first thing they need to consider is: What is the purpose of the new suit? Is it for business or is it for something casual. Second, what do they already have in their wardrobe? I see a lot of people not really taking stock of their wardrobe and ordering the same navy suit time-and-time again. Third, think about the details you want to see on the suit. Of course, we can always provide advice, but thinking about the type of suit you're after will speed up the process.
BESPOKE SUIT HEURISTICS
What are some basic rules to suiting that people should be aware of? If you are shorter than 170cm, we don't recommend peak lapels on your blazer or cuffs on your trousers. It makes you look shorter.
I always advise guys with a substantial waistline to stay away from a double-breasted blazer. Do you agree? Yes, if you have a bit of a belly, stick with a single-breasted blazer. A double-breasted blazer has more fabric around the mid-section so it makes you look rounder. Also, if you wear it unbuttoned, there is a lot of fabric flapping around which is not flattering.
THE BESPOKE CLUB DIFFERENCE
What are some common misconceptions that people have about a bespoke suit? Most people think it takes a really long time. There are tailors in the market that take three to four months to make a bespoke suit. At the same time, the prices they charge are upwards of $3,500. At TBC, we have a totally different concept. We get the finished product in front of the customer earlier, and then we do minor alterations on the finished product. The only reason why other tailors are taking so long is because they need to do at least two to three trials.
Why should someone get his or her suit made at The Bespoke Club? Our strength is our customer service. We want our clients to feel like they're a friend or family member. When a client enters our store, it's not about jumping into the sales conversation or pushing a product. They sit down and relax, have something to drink — tea, coffee, or whisky perhaps — and when they're ready, we discuss what they're looking for. Also, getting to know the client helps us streamline the process. For example, if we know that they are after a light suit, we know which types of fabrics to show them, instead of showing them each swatch from our huge library.
And you're full-service? You also offer shoes and accessories? Yes, we also have our own The Bespoke Club footwear and they're made-to-order. If you want a belt, wallet or notebook in matching leather to your shoe, we can also do that. If you're after a walking cane or umbrella to finish off your outfit, we stock the Italian brand Pasotti. Or after some men's grooming kits and shaving balms? We have items from Truefitt & Hill. You can leave The Bespoke Club fully clothed and accessorised from head-to-toe.
*BURO 24/7 EXCLUSIVE PROMOTION: Simply share this story on social media, show your post to the good people at The Bespoke Club, and receive a complimentary $100 off* your bespoke order. Act quick, as this offer is for a limited time only.
*The $100 discount is not to be used in conjunction with other promotions or packages.
The Bespoke Club is located at Suntec City Mall (Tower 1) #01-484, 3 Temasek Boulevard 038983 (Phone: 6734 4167).