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The suiting thread

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For inexplicable reasons, Google thought it a good idea I check into this hotel in JB. Those people you see in the picture? They are not normal people. They are Bangsa Johor.

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Let's see how tomorrow develops.

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Damn. Mission in JB NOT accomplished. Just by sewing 3.5 fused jackets a week for a SGporean tailoring shop, he makes twice what I'm offering. It's more than what graduates in their late twenties make at, say, a tobacco company in Malaysia (to name one data point I just happen to know). It's handily more than what junior auditors make.

He rented a single storey terrace house. One room is his bedroom. The other his workroom. His living room is pretty much empty. I had to sit on the floor.

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It's a particularly simplified form of fused construction. He says nobody cares how the jacket is constructed. All they expect is a jacket. Any jacket.

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However, buttonholes are often in contrasting colours and lapels particularly slim.

I'm still glad I came all the way. Learnt quite a bit about how SGporean tailors operate, their pay rates, etc. Also, it was great meeting up with Ah L. after all these years.

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SGporean tailors have a cost structure 3X higher than KL ones. Mind boggling. Almost worth doing trunks there especially since they also have "finding the absolute best value" as a collective national bloodsport. Those who know the SGporeans know exactly what I'm talking about.

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There is no mountain too high to scale, no rubbish heap too wide for a real SGporean to rummage in if he can find something in there to buy that is 20 cents cheaper than the next lowest provider.

Otherwise they are fairly normal.

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Young people doing it purely for the money and not give a shit bout the craft.

Thats why this industry is in decline locally.

Even SG has a few young "tailors" who wants to continue the tradition and craft to create.

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Third jacket for me by a relatively new coatmaker. Slim lapels as requested by the customer. The front edge parting is not quite mine even though he has my templates. But I find it stylish---calls to mind Huntsman. I might have all Bendaharas given such a parting, while the Sultans retain the usual JT parting.

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Ph.D. basting a pair of trousers. Only at JT. She told me she wants to learn how to sew buttonholes next.

Yesterday, I was at YL Camera in PJ33 to buy coughcough another lens (I welcome psychiatrist recommendations). The salesman was very young. 18yo, to be exact. He has worked there for three years. A native of PJ. He did NOT look particularly brain damaged. In fact, he spoke pretty good English. I thought I could use someone like this in the shop.

I then discovered the Ph.D. part timer is Chinese ed. So, after 1.5 hours, I got her to produce a job ad.

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The job ad took her a lot of effort to write. Because she is not accustomed to writing compactly and impactfully, where each word conveys a lot of meaning and feeling. She thought it was about describing a vacancy. I had to adjust her head to think in terms of finding the next great tailor.

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Also, you are not writing to the kid. You are writing to the parents of the kid.

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I handed over a suit jacket just now and the customer told me that he mentioned to an employee of his, a 20-something year old engineer, that he's having a suit made at JT. The employee has heard of JT and was awed that the boss is getting a suit from JT. It amazes me that random people I've never met would have heard of me.

Also, I received an enquiry from a copywriter at Leo Burnett. I've always wanted to meet a real copywriter.

Currently, there are two Jeremy's and two Desmond's having stuff made---such an overlap would have been unthinkable even quite recently.

And, yesterday, a customer from last year dropped by again, this time for a linen jacket. He's the MD of the local office of the world's third largest tech company.

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Oh, almost forgot to mention I sold a jacket in Escorial this morning.

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Forgot to mention there are also two Vincent's currently having suits made.

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Just had a fitting with the customer who sells ad time on tv. He asked if I'd be interested in collaborating with a movie director working on a sci-fi cinema movie. 

This customer took a call while in the shop and closed a rm100k advertising deal.

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I was talking about Tailor-on-Ten with a customer just now, and I told him how I've always felt about them: They have the coolest shop format. A rented bungalow. 

I don't quite like the location I have; it would be great to be in a more genial place. A bungalow would be great. Maybe I should rent one of those old bungalows in PJ.

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I actually find these multistoried stuructures extremely inconvenient. Vertical living is for those who love climbing up and down stairs. I would greatly prefer a single storey structure.

 

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My job ad will run nationwide from Fri till Mon. For those who can't read Chinese, it says that we, a modern tailoring establishment which produces suits made with traditional methods using the finest cloths in the world are looking for school leavers who would like to train to become excellent tailors. Accomodation is provided. 

The ad had to do many things: to disassociate ourselves from old school declining tailoring shops and those tailoring shops located above the pasar besar of small towns, to communicate that we produce a luxury product, and to communicate that we are not looking for those who merely want a menial job to make a living. This milieu we are in is foreign to almost all potential applicants. Their brains mostly cannot wrap around what we do. Their idea of a tailor is the 70-yo guy in a half-shop above the pasar besar who makes pants for other old men and who alters jeans.

Potential applicants are those who have done quite disasterously at school, are living in the provinces, and are contemplating a blue collar job, like a mechanic in a car workshop, or a cook in a Chinese restaurant.

Assume a mother calls me. Blah blah, she goes. Blah blah. How do I figure out if her son is completely useless and severely brain damaged, or if he merely has the wrong temperament for school?

Eventually some will end up in front of me. Mother, father, son (or daughter). I still have to figure out the real reason the guy is so hopeless at school.

In Bentong, where I go for servicing my car, the mechanics are all Chinese and the two managing partners (young men) don't look at all brain damaged. They do not behave like those of us who spent too much time in school, but they are not unintelligent. Yet, they left school way before SPM.

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