These days, it is unusual to find a young man whose dream is to become a Master Tailor. But every once in a while a new young talent comes along that commands our attention. Such is the case with Kevin Seah, a skilled artisan belonging to a very small guild of young up-and-coming craftsmen.
The current shortage of skilled tailors raises the question of whether the demand for handmade suits will exceed the supply, potentially driving bespoke prices to new heights in the process. While the renewal of interest in classic menswear is turning the tide and enticing more people to enter the field of tailoring, whether enough people will enter the trade in order to keep up with demand is still in question.
Already we have witnessed examples of the younger generation taking the helm of two successful tailoring houses that we like a lot : Manolo Costa in New York and B & Tailor in Korea. However, in Singapore, experienced tailoring houses are few and far between (compared to Hong Kong, for example), and so a house like Kevin Seah’s is a sight for the Singaporean-sartorial-man’s sore eyes.
Before opening his tailoring operation five years ago, Kevin Seah was fast at work creating beautiful handmade wedding and evening gowns. However, his passion for menswear eventually got the upper hand, and led him to ditch dressmaking in favor of crafting suits.
Kevin’s riverside bespoke atelier in Singapore is well worth a visit. Having a suit made by Mr. Seah is like enjoying the services of not only a tailor, but also a private designer, who wants to understand his client’s style preferences before the first cut and stitch is put to the cloth. Kevin doesn’t believe in promoting a specific house-style and prefers to work with one customer silhouette at a time in order to create a suit made specifically for the client’s morphology–a unique approach that requires a little more work and lot more listening than is rendered at most ateliers.
In the Singapore atelier, you will find a great selection of ties, pocket squares, lapel pins, Gaziano & Girling shoes, custom-made polo shirts, bespoke jeans in all sorts of denim (including 16 oz Japanese raw denim), MTM and bespoke suits and sport coats, as well as the first shoe shine and patina bar to be installed in the country.
The bespoke atelier resembles a Gentleman’s Club with a smoking parlor on the top floor complete with vintage leather club chairs and couches and a respectable selection of cigars and whiskey. In order to bring together men who like elegant clothing, Kevin believes in creating a place where men will want to stop in for a drink and a chat without feeling pressured to buy anything—a rare approach that seems to be working, as Kevin’s clientele now ranges from bankers to rock stars eager to commission their next suit.
The tailoring climate in Singapore feels different from the rest of the world. There is none of the familiar British stiffness, nor Italian bravado that some of us have come to know and expect. Instead, there is an air of friendliness in the atelier that feels so welcoming that you will want to stay for a while…
Over the course of two days at Kevin Seah’s, I ran into two true gentlemen that I have had the past pleasure of meeting :
Simone Ubertino Rosso, Head of Communication at Vitale Barberis Canonico, and Charles de Luca, cutter at Camps de Luca, son of venerable Master Tailor Marc de Luca. Where else in the world could that happen ?
Kevin’s offering also includes made-to-measure suits, which provides a stepping stone for those not quite ready for the full bespoke experience. His bespoke garments are fully canvassed, and the buttonholes are created according to a special blend of techniques to create a unique brand of milanese that has become known as Kevin’s signature.
Mr. Seah takes the measurements, and performs the fittings and the finishing works on all jackets and trousers, which includes the hand stitching and the buttonholes. His trusted cutters perform the cuts for the initial construction. The final product is quite remarkable, given the fact that Kevin performs at least three fittings, guarantees customer satisfaction and remains reasonably priced at around 4,000 SGD for a bespoke suit (around 2400 EUR).
Garments are crafted based on the client’s morphology and preferences, and often includes specific details such as leather side adjusters on the trousers or jeans with tweed back pockets. The house is particularly open to suggestions, which is a nice change from the many houses that are all too often reluctant to deviate from their house style.
MTM suits are fully canvassed with some machine work, including the buttonholes–with prices starting at 2, 500 SGD, or 1500€.
Kevin Seah will present a few trunk shows in the Autumn, and visit Bangkok and possibly Europe in the coming year. Stay tuned — I feel we haven’t heard the last from this talented young man.
Bonus : stop by the shoe shine bar for a whiskey shine, and be sure to ask for the shine menu !
Paul Lux (http://paul-lux.tumblr.com)
To know more about Kevin Seah :
Website : http://kevinseah.com
Tumblr : http://kevinseahbespoke.tumblr.com
Online project : http://sartorialsin.tumblr.com