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kotmj

The suiting thread

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Both, man! Three standard deviations away from the mean. Almost peacock feather territory. 

I had such an unusual experience today. I called a real estate agent to discuss renting a retail unit he represents. I was completely unprepared for the force of nature I was to meet. 

He wasn't interested in the renting of the unit. He was interested in me, my business, how we operate, who our clients are and how clients find us.

He reciprocated by telling me about himself. So fascinating. 

He showed me several units, but what he really wanted to do was think of a place in KL/PJ that would suit JT (the business) . He has matched many businesses to retail units. 

He matched Bon Zainal to his place in Sri Hartamas. (He advised Bon against doing it but Bon wanted it anyway.) He is also a partner in several chain retail businesses. We talked about the performance of retail businesses in many parts of KL.

He kept saying,  "Customers follow me". By that, he meant those he had done business with in the past would turn to him whenever they feel a need to move. He would then give his opinion on the feasibility of the new place or suggest alternatives. 

I found him extremely business savvy. He very much understands how a retail business works. 

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He is also intimately familiar with buttonliew's rent arrangement and revenue situation, i. e. level, and trajectory. 

He knows so much because, like me, he's insatiably curious about his field. 

The way he described it, most tailors are not doing great. Over time, they do worse. 

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A while back, I fired a customer half way through the process of making him a suit. I thought he was a sinister, vengeful, abrasive person who thinks way too highly of himself. Where do 20-somethings of zero accomplishments find such a reservoir of self entitlement? He wrote the following review to my Facebook yesterday. 

==================

A story that needs to be told:

TL;DR: If you have a forgiving body type, he probably has enough skill to make you a suit. Hence why my skinny friend had a good experience. But be prepared to deal with someone who is very disorganised, can be unprofessional with customers, and probably lacks enough skill to tailor a suit for other body types. Hence why me and another friend had such bad experiences.

Background
I was getting married on August 31 and was in need of a suit. Now I've not gotten anything tailored in KL for a while, so I naturally turned to Google to find me some leads. Jeremy Tok was one of the names that consistently came up, with rave reviews. 

I then reached out to friends who had used him. This wasn’t helpful. One friend really liked him - and said the same things other reviewers here would write. But my other friend had a disaster of an experience, with poor service and workmanship - and ended up not even using the suit.

How could two people have such different experiences? I decided to go with the consensus of the internet and give Jeremy a shot. So I arranged to meet face-to-face with him:

18th May - our first meeting
Jeremy came across as very knowledgeable about the process, and make a convincing technical sales pitch. He also had more choices of cloth than most other tailors. His prices were also more competitive. It was on these three criteria that I decided to proceed with him. 

But there were red flags I should have spotted from this first meeting. He was disorganised. He had poor social skills. When asked about the terrible experience my friend had, he said he was completely unaware about the issue, and shifted most of the blame to my friend. I dismissed all these red flags as a combination of his eccentricity and that my friend was partly at fault.

8th June - taking my measurements
He had lost all the notes he had taken from our first meeting. So we sat down to work out everything again. Good thing I had taken photos of the cloth I wanted from our earlier meeting. Jeremy also used novel measuring techniques I had never seen before - perhaps he really knew his stuff

14th June - transferred a deposit as requested

29th June - First Fitting
I arrived slightly late, but was pretty excited to see how the clothes would fit.

And then Jeremy handed me a shirt and pants cut in a blue scratchy draft cloth. This was pretty novel - usually at the first fitting, the clothes are already cut in the actual cloth. But hey - Jeremy's the expert right? Also, seems like they had forgotten to get my draft vest ready. Oops. 

As expected of the process, there were some bits that didn’t fit great - but the jacket did fit, and Jeremy expertly eyeballed the changes on everything else with a confidence that communicated that most of these issues would be sorted out by our next fitting - which we scheduled for 13th July

12th July - Change of plans
But then Jeremy texted to reschedule because the clothes were not ready yet. Unfortunately the rest of my weekends were booked. But this was important, so I decided I would take a half-day off on Thursday to see him

18th July - Second Fitting
The clothes were even more ill-fitting than at my first fitting. My shirt was still too tight but now my jacket was also too tight. When asked why the jacket didn’t fit as well, Jeremy said my body shape had changed.

WAIT - did he just call me fat?

Then I noticed my pants had too much cloth around the thighs - which Jeremy dismissed as normal. I was unhappy with his assessment - baggy pants are not normal. We disputed this for a bit, and then he asked me - "what solution would you propose for this?" This of course annoyed me - who was the tailor here? 

After looking at my pants a bit longer - I realised it was disproportionately baggy - because my right thigh was bigger than my left thigh. Jeremy's reply to this was - "we cut our pants symmetrically". This of course annoyed me further. Isn't the point of a tailor about having custom fit non-symmetrical clothes?

As a way forward, Jeremy suggested I bring one of my other tailored suit pants the next time we met. That seemed like a fair suggestion to break the impasse.

19th July 2019 - An Unexpected Text
So there I was at work, and this text comes in at 3:27pm.

“Hi Joel, I don’t think I’m the right tailor to be making you your wedding suit. I’d like to withdraw from the transaction. Let me have your bank account details so I can refund you your deposit in full. There is still time to engage another tailor for an end August delivery.”

In the words of the tailor I eventually used - ‘I’ve heard of customers rejecting tailors, but never of tailors rejecting customers”

I was shocked, then disappointed, then angry. How dare he leave me less than 1 and a half months to find myself a new tailor! And this was the equivalent of a breakup by text - he didn’t even have the courtesy to call me. Plus I had to press him for a reason. To which, this was the reply he gave:

“I am not optimistic about being able to make a suit to your satisfaction.”

Cue disbelief. I had ordered  a normal 3-piece suit. Were my demands so unrealistically high to just want a suit that fits me? Or was he saying that his skills were that poor?

In any case, he refunded me my deposit - and that was the end of the “transaction”. Jeremy’s last words on text:

“I’m so sorry. I hope you will find the generosity of spirit to forgive me one day.”

Final thoughts
Have I forgiven Jeremy? Probably. But should the wider population be aware of his deficiencies - in light of how many glowing reviews he has? Yes - I wouldn’t want anyone to ignorantly suffer a similar experience to mine. In light of the subsequent good experience I had with Bespoked in 1 Utama, I realise that it’s probably not the wisest idea to go to a self-taught tailor. 

So here is my summary opinion of Jeremy Tok:

Pros about Jeremy Tok:
1. Very knowledgeable about the tailoring process and cloth. He knows how to talk about these things very well
2. Good selection of cloth

Cons about Jeremy Tok:
1. Disorganised: Lost my notes from the first meeting, forgot to get the vest ready for the first fitting, always took time to find where my clothes were, did not keep to scheduled appointments, did not issue me a receipt with my suit measurements / requirements (they were all recorded in his little notebook)
2. Unprofessional customer service: Barely looks you in the eye when he’s talking, shifted blame / responsibility to me every time I gave critical feedback on my suit
3. Lack of skill: Was unable to make me a standard three-piece suit

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So I found the post I made here about this Joel Lee, who wrote the defining review you see above. I hid the following post a while after publishing it because I felt it might irk the customer even more. 

=========

kotmj     1,327

Hidden by admin, July 19 - Hide

I fitted a customer this morning and it was a rather remarkable experience. He has set up in himself an antagonistic approach to dealng with me; basically, I'm expected to prove my worth to him by delivering a superlative suit to his standards of estimating such things. Until I do so, he will come in each time for fittings with the figurative stick with which he will hit me.

He took great offense at the creases on the trousers when he was sitting. I told him I've never seen trousers which are smooth when the wearer is seated. He was quite adamant his other trousers do not scrunch up in such a manner when he is seated. I said it looks typical to me. He found my lack of empathy with the situation unacceptable. I was thinking to myself that in the eight years I've been doing this, I've not seen trousers fit so well but which offends the customer so. He then went on to identify two or three other defects with the trousers. I honestly think these are imaginary. I probably understand trousers about a thousand times more than he does. Really, I do.

I told him I was being intellectually honest with him, in case it wasn't obvious.

But more than the fit issues was the entire tone of the interaction. In his mind, I was paid to serve him. He's the boss; I'm his minion.

I've actually dealt with quite a number of such people over the years. I told myself that they are just learning experiences; do not fight the customer; be useful to him. Try to see things his way; have empathy; fix the problem. Besides, there are not that many of them around. I deal with maybe one or two a year. The vast majority of customers are wonderful.

So I tried to see things his way. That's when I realised the entire problem is with him, not me or the trousers. There is something wrong with the guy.

Tomorrow, I shall tell him I'm withdrawing from the transaction and will refund his deposit in full. I don't feel qualified to make him his wedding suit.

This is a luxury I will treat mysef to once in a while. Now that I can afford to. In the past, I just couldn't afford to.

Edited July 19 by kotmj

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is this an igent issue? pictures would be great

what about underpromising and overdelivering on appointment times. workshops can operate on rubber time sometimes

interested to know what you did about the unfinished garment lol

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No, not igent issue. It's actually uncommon to meet a thing like Joel Lee. The typical interaction with a customer, igent or not, is one of cooperation, fraternity and goodwill. 

It's mostly 3 weeks between fitting sessions. I would have difficulty telling customers to come back for a fitting in four---many think a suit can be *completed* in 2-3 weeks. But yeah, I understand the general principle of underpromising. 

His fittings were done in muslin so the lighter navy cloth is still with me. I can always offer it to a customer looking for a lighter navy. 

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23 hours ago, kotmj said:

 

WAIT - did he just call me fat?

 

If your tailor can't call you fat, then I don't know who can. Of all the people one interacts with, one's tailor and  physician, in that order,  are the only two that have a valid, necessary reason to honestly comment's on one's figure. 

Asshole clients need to, no, must be fired. The interaction between service provider and service recipient should be one of mutual respect, whatever the industry.

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20190925SN_2.jpg

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/09/25/appellate-court-quashes-shariah-charges-against-ezra-zaid-ends-islamic-tria/1794091

Seven years ago, Ezra had a suit made with me in order to attend court for this case. In the picture above from today, he's wearing that very suit made 7 years ago. He told people that, when he wins the case, he will make another suit. 

Just now, Ezra was in the shop to order another suit. The very day he won his case. I asked him if he has new ideas for cases. 

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2 hours ago, takashi said:

This Joel fella's body shape doesnt look like its hard to fit.

From his FB pic. 

Body not hard to fit but his mind is a bit defective 

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11 hours ago, carbman said:

If your tailor can't call you fat, then I don't know who can. Of all the people one interacts with, one's tailor and  physician, in that order,  are the only two that have a valid, necessary reason to honestly comment's on one's figure. 

Asshole clients need to, no, must be fired. The interaction between service provider and service recipient should be one of mutual respect, whatever the industry.

His entire thought process is very juvenile. 

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IMG_20190926_172550.jpg?raw=1

Some of you will recall the paisley Milanese. The customer of the above jacket specifically requested for it. But what is that peeking out of the aperture? 

IMG_20190926_172607.jpg?raw=1

Two birds! Currently, the birds were done on a scrap piece of cloth. Once we've got the size and colour right we'll embroider them on the jacket itself. 

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Screenshot_20190927_195607_com.instagram

Posted by Employee #2. He basted it. The vest was actually drafted by Employee #1. Not sure who cut it since I wasn't at work when it was cut. 

Just noticed he was using my Shozaburo, which I bought way back when I was apprenticing. Also, that's my luxury oak table. 

Jajaja. It's like you buy a Porsche but your kids take the keys and drive it. 

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“ Isn't the point of a tailor about having custom fit non-symmetrical clothes? “

 

Are asymmetrical trouser holes a thing??  I wonder if it would make the garment look super odd. 

 

J - slightly anti climatic because you didn’t get to see the trousers which dont crease when seated. 

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On 9/28/2019 at 7:17 PM, "6" said:

“ Isn't the point of a tailor about having custom fit non-symmetrical clothes? “

 

Are asymmetrical trouser holes a thing??  I wonder if it would make the garment look super odd. 

 

J - slightly anti climatic because you didn’t get to see the trousers which dont crease when seated. 

I'm happy to make pretty much anything if the customer is willing to work with me to develop it. I've done many novel garments, or novel features on garments for customers who asked for them. The problem with this Joel guy is his juvenile attitude. He has an antagonistic attitude towards those he is "hiring". Normally, those he hires are subservient to him, and let him boss them around. I make so much nowadays, I just fire these idiots. JT is here to serve, but JT is subservient to nobody.

I also actually make for real bosses. CEOs of public listed companies. I know how a boss is like. Joel Lee is not a boss. He is just an idiot who thinks he is a boss.

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I don't really fire customers, actually, The guy I fired before Joel, maybe 2 years ago, was a similarly young guy. We were making him a shirt. It was very challenging to fit. I didn't so much fire him as I capitulated. I gave up. I returned him all his money and he got to keep the shirt.

Before him, maybe 2 years before, I sort of fired another customer. A partner at an accounting firm everybody has heard of. He was very unhappy with his shirt. He wanted to kill me. I offered a full refund. He did not expect this; he didn't know how to react. He was expecting me to cling to the money. I almost had to force him to accept the deposit back. He did tell me during the first session that he has basically used every well-known tailor in KL but none got his shirt right. He was hoping for a more positive product from JT. Alas, it was not to be.

So basically, I fired maybe 4 customers in total in the last 8 years.

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I think I need an annual calendar watch. I need the month, the day, and the date. For the month, I need an expanded window or a pointer display , which allows me to see at least two months ahead. 

I just said yes to someone who applied for an internship. She wants to start November. I said since its November tomorrow, I shall see her tomorrow. Jajaja. 

This afternoon, someone called wanting an appointment in November, but I wasn't sure how far away November was and felt a need to consult a calendar, which was not at hand.

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I'm a late adopter. Took me forever to buy a smartphone. When I finally joined WhatsApp, it was quite an event. 

Smart watches are too avant garde for me. Maybe in two or three years. Ideally, I'd have something like this.

5327br_1e_9v6_0.jpg

A smartphone doesn't work because it is pressed against my ear when I am on the phone negotiating an appointment. 

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