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kotmj

The suiting thread

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Renzo Piano calls his company the "Renzo Piano Building Workshop".

I think I'll call mine the Jeremy Tok Tailoring Workshop. There are lots of "bespoke tailoring", "bespoke" and "custom tailor" out there. But now, there is finally a "tailoring workshop". The one and only!

This has many ramifications. If you're a workshop---a tailoring workshop---it means the innards are visible, i.e. the process for the genesis of clothes should be visible.

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Hi guys,

 

I hope this is the avenue to check if there is any interest in this Scabal Luxxor (Wool, Cashmere, Vicuna) Navy blue cloth? 

I currently have 2.5m on hand, please see the below for the pictures :D

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-03 at 16.45.43 (7).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-03 at 16.45.43 (6).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-03 at 16.45.43 (5).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-03 at 16.45.43 (4).jpeg

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I took a call just now from someone who enquired if I would be interested in hiring him. It struck me as an unusual request because the guy, who sounded like he might be in his 50's or 60's, spoke to me in English. I asked him if he's a coatmaker. He said sort of---he stopped 20 years ago. He said he just came back (to Malaysia) from the UK. It sounded to me like he was gone for quite a long time, but maybe not 20 years. He said he'd like to polish his sewing skills again. We then discussed how to meet.

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So I met with him. He came to the shop. He's only 46, and had spent the last 20 years working in restaurants in the UK. Before he left Malaysia, he was very interested in sewing and fashion, and had attended garment-making courses. He eventually apprenticed with a coatmaker, who may even still be alive. I think I might even have used his sifu, who was at that time close to 80-years old. He briefly worked as a coatmaker. His plan was to set up his own shop, but his parents couldn't cough up the requisite money. However, he made fused jackets only, and is wholly unfamiliar with the fully canvassed construction. After failing to set up shop, he left the country.

He's financially quite comfortable, or so it seems. He has been trading in cryptocurrencies as an occupation since returning. He said he can't trade 8 hours a day because it's emotionally draining.

I mostly think the way he goes about things is all wrong. There was almost no fit between us.

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Not sure if this is of any value to you people, but I was just sent this link. It's an interview with the 2nd gen owner of Burlington tailor; apparently, his father died recently. I have no real contact with Burlington. Lost a few prospective customers to them over the years. Poor thing, he now has to compete against me all by himself.

https://www.bfm.my/style-file-the-art-of-bespoke

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The producer at Bernama News Channel asked me if I'd like to sponsor another show of theirs, "The Nation". It's the English language version of Ruang Bicara (whose wardrobe I'll continue to sponsor).

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I've done such a poor job of putting more attention in fostering relationships with people in the media, and in creating more visibility for the brand in general. Also very behind in creating campaigns. I mostly just organise the making of clothes. Been trying to see how this can be solved; maybe I should work with a freelance PR person who is responsible for all marketing-related relationships. My problem is, I'm not personally interested in relationships. I'm not a people person nor am I sociable. That's not to say I do not like people. People like me enough. It's just I'm very passive when it comes to relationships.

Marketing through media outlets is 100% about relationships.

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Just came back from Bernama. I met with the producer I've been working with, and met another producer, the one who does the English language portion of Bernama News Channel. He wants me to outfit his hosts, but has to let the current contract with another sponsor expire before he can make the switch to JT.

He also thought it would be a great idea to have me on Bernama Today, for short segments talking about clothes. This will be a recurring thing.

I'm also making a suit for the COO of Bernama News Channel. He has always been COO.

Few people know this, but throughout my involvement with Bernama, I've not met a Najib supporter. They were all virulently against the previous administration. As the election approached, they put up more big pictures of Najib on the walls, but they were loathful of the guy. Even the senior management loathed him.

One of the hosts I outfitted, Dato Dahlan, has left the station to become a political secretary to Anthony Loke. He previously was fired from his hosting job by Rosmah for making the wrong noises about her on Ruang Bicara, but after the controversy cooled, his boss quietly reinstalled him.

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Finally, the buggers at Esquire Malaysia contacted me. It only took them seven years to do so.

They have conceived of quite the advertorial package. The most sophisticated I've been presented with. I can imagine that for many brands, the proposal is super attractive. The cost is definitely high, but for many brands perfectly realistic.

I wonder if I should blow so much working capital on it. They refer to it as an "investment". I see it as just another cost.

The way they expose you is all encompassing. They feature you on their print and web magazines, run your ad, and talk about you on all their social media sites. For two weeks. What they ask for in return almost looks cheap (but isn't).

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DSC02273.jpg?raw=1

Modelling a customer's jacket in H&S mesh jacketing. Machine-sewn swelled edges. 3" lapels. Very fancy lining. The customer is much taller with very square shoulders. Will be sent together with another suit and some shirts to London. He's a website/app developer, but finds himself in need of tailored clothes like these when presenting to/meeting with clients.

DSC02274.jpg?raw=1

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A better view of the machine-sewn swelled edges. Swelled edges are more than just that line of machine sewing or pick stitching that makes the edges appear chunkier. They're also about what you do with the seam allowances. With regular jackets, the two seam allowances (one from the facing, the other from the forepart) are feathered, i.e. they have different widths to give the gradual transition. With swelled edges you want an abrupt transition, so both seam allowances are identical in width.

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For an Australian customer. Normally, the coatmaker makes the canvas, but in this case I wanted a stiffer construction and a chestpiece that is longer than usual so I made one side myself. He then follows my example and makes the other side. Some customers benefit from a stiffer canvas due to what they are looking for in a suit.

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The vest and morning trousers actually belong to the morning jacket. He then put on the dinner jacket. No point switching to the dinner trousers etc since they're the same cut.

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One of the (very) few instances when I do a forward fitting. It's not a concept that's used by Asian tailors. It's also kinda dangerous, since the pockets have already been made and the front edge of the jacket---including lapels---finalised. I often find myself still fine tuning these aspects at the second fitting, which is why I don't do a forward fitting. London tailors do a baste/skeleton fitting (which all tailors do, including Asian ones), then a forward fitting. There is rarely a third fitting. If there is, it's called a button fitting, where you basically determine the button position.

In this particular instance, we did two baste fittings. I was pretty confident about pocket positions and front edge, so I went to a forward. As it turned out, the only change I would make to this is to shorten the right sleeve by a quarter inch. Should have just gone straight to finish and save everybody the trouble of a forward fitting.

I wonder though if I should transition to the London model of baste--forward--finish. The challenge is to be able to finalise quite a number of things at baste fitting stage (especially the vertical balances) because these things can't be changed once you do a forward fitting. I still think it's risky. What's much safer is a baste---baste---forward---finish. But that means three fittings.

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Somebody who works with American & Efird contacted me about a suit. I really hopes he comes because they make great threads and I need to figure out how to buy it from them. It is ridiculously difficult to source great threads. All you get locally is spun polyester.

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A couple days ago, I restarted Google adwords advertising. This is after a 2-year hiatus from it. The first time I ran Google ads, I did it for four months. The results? There wasn't any. I spent a couple hundred ringgit a month on it---a really small budget by any standards---but a grand total of one guy came in because of the ads. In all four months.

I could clearly see why. Google was serving my ads to people whose search terms were only minimally similar to the keywords I had bid on. It was an indiscriminating showing of my ads to the wrong people. Each day, Google had this uncanny ability to exhaust the budget. Even if it had to serve my ads to minimally related search terms. I thought this was borderline criminal and stopped all ads. To stop Google from serving my ads to the wrong search terms, I had a very long negative keywords list that I augmented every couple days. This did not deter Google---it just kept serving my ads to unrelated search terms. That 's when I realised Google is corrupt. 

Instead, I turned to being better at organic searches. For some strategically-important search terms, I absolutely wanted to be on the first page of organic results. Real progress was made and generally my site performed reasonably well, ranking either at first page or top of second page for the search terms that mattered. I eventually exhausted my ideas and ability to execute on them when it came to organic search ranking, which then prompted me to approach a website builder/SEO guy to see what he can do to bring us even higher. I reported on the encounter in these very pages. Basically, the guy was useless and the SEO industry even more corrupt than Google.

Throughout this time, SEO firms approached players in the industry and they signed up to their programs. I could see their Google ads. I think they were milked to the tune of thousands per month. After a couple of months, even the dumbest of them realised Google ads simply do not work. Nobody was coming into the shop because of them. They all stopped advertising.

When I re-examined Google adwords a few days ago, I saw a totally different interface. It's so much richer and granular now compared to two years ago. So I plugged in a few keywords, and set a tiny daily budget. I wanted to see how it works now. Having observed its behaviour over the past few days, I think Google ads now work a lot less criminally. It kept fairly closely---but not exactly---to my keywords. You need to understand that my keywords are exact match types. My ads should only show if the user enters a search term that is an exact match to one of my keywords. Even so, I can see that there is no such thing as exact match for Google---it still serves my ads even if the match is not exact. But at least so far, Google has kept fairly close to the intent of the keywords.

This time around, I am also surprised at the level of interest by the Malaysian public for the stuff I do. Compared to two years ago, there are many more people searching for my keywords. Maybe, there were always people searching for these keywords but that Google just got better at matching them to my ads.

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My experience with Google adwords also told me it's pointless to engage an external party to manage the advertising on my behalf. You need to understand Google is expert at completely using up your daily budget regardless of the demand for the keywords. An external party a) would be dumber than me b ) is less interested in achieving genuine results than me and c) care far less about the wastage of budget on unrelated search terms. So I have to manage this myself because it is very, very easy to pay a lot of money to Google with no results whatsoever.

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By corrupt, I mean they are not on your side. The ethos should be, "I profit only if you, my client, profits." Corrupt means they profit off your ignorance and at your cost even if you are not ignorant.

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10-Hiroki-Suzuki.jpg

I was looking at Ajinomoto Malaysia's annual report when I saw the above. They had pictures of each of their BoD members, all wearing very bad suits. Except this guy, who wears a tailoring homerun. Hiroki Suzuki, 41 y-o, longtime Ajinomoto Inc. salaryman.

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