Jump to content

The suiting thread


kotmj
 Share

Recommended Posts

Yesterday, I called up a Singaporean cloth distributor to ask him a few questions.

Has any KL tailor closed down or find themselves in financial distress? 

He could think of only one. Tailors in general, he says, are not in distress. They pay their accounts payable. Tailors are mostly old businesses, he says.

I then asked him about his customers in the township above. 

He says he has no customer whatsoever in the township above. In other words, there are no serious tailors in that township. We have one customer in a neighbouring township, he adds.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This place is seriously undertailored. This township and the neighbouring township are significant population centers and can easily keep 10 tailors fat and happy. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m no expert on the economics of tailoring, but my impression of that micro-location is it is the type of development which is basically multi level shop fronts- where I don’t recall any similar format having shops on the upper level(s) prospering, ever. Ground floor might be a better bet if you want to aim for walk ins. Not that your current business model relies on walk ins anyway since you aren’t exactly a mass market tailor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, valid point. I'm looking at a 2nd floor unit, even. That's like the Siberian steppe of retail. 

I'm keen to not to be too successful. I have no idea how to deal with a step increase in volume. An explosion of demand. Everybody knows I'm terrible at it, jajaja. 

Even in a location as ridiculously unpromising as Empire City, with zero footfall and dark corridors, in a city saturated with serious tailors in expensive microlocations and RM500k fitouts, pre-pandemic the volume at JT was inhuman. Volume increases every year. 

I'm looking for a very modest go at proper retail. Without outside investors. As I learn to cope with the volume and the peculiarities of retail, I may relocate one floor down to join Subway. As cash reserves become bountiful and the team larger, I may migrate one more floor down to join Starbucks, Guardian, Maybank & HSBC. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yesterday, upon hearing the knock on the door of my 3pm appointment, I grabbed my kerbau jacket and put it on. Or rather, I tried putting it on. Very unsuccessfully. It's the first time I'm wearing this in 3 months. 

I've been wearing this jacket several times a week for maybe 6 years. It is one of only 3 jackets I wear in rotation. 

I am very familiar with the fit of this jacket. Yet, yesterday, it was as if I was putting on someone else's jacket. 

It kept binding to my body, not wanting to properly sit itself on my shoulders. I do not recall ever having such a frustrating time putting on this jacket. 

I had the time just now to figure out what the problem is. It appears I've gained weight. 

Yet, I've never been leaner. So I must have gained muscle. 

Here's a picture from a week ago. 

img_20210821_135903.jpg?raw=1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been discovering parang-analogues around the world. I've talked about the Japanese nata. Now I discovered the Sami stuorraniibi. The Sami is a Laplandic people, and they generally use 2 kinds of knives in their lives (for everything) . They call the knives big knife and small knife respectively. How literal.

The stuorraniibi (lit. big knife) is 9" long in the blade. It looks very similar to a parang. It is used like a parang. 

The Stromeng workshop manufactures authentic Sami knives. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/5/2021 at 4:34 PM, kotmj said:

 


 

Fitted a vest via WhatsApp with a customer in Melbourne. The trousers are JT. The vest muslin was sewn by the Mayang boy. 

An interesting but definitely humbling experience when it comes to one’s limited dexterity when trying to pin a garment on yourself. 
 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/5/2021 at 6:03 PM, kotmj said:

Yesterday, upon hearing the knock on the door of my 3pm appointment, I grabbed my kerbau jacket and put it on. Or rather, I tried putting it on. Very unsuccessfully. It's the first time I'm wearing this in 3 months. 

I've been wearing this jacket several times a week for maybe 6 years. It is one of only 3 jackets I wear in rotation. 

I am very familiar with the fit of this jacket. Yet, yesterday, it was as if I was putting on someone else's jacket. 

It kept binding to my body, not wanting to properly sit itself on my shoulders. I do not recall ever having such a frustrating time putting on this jacket. 

I had the time just now to figure out what the problem is. It appears I've gained weight. 

Yet, I've never been leaner. So I must have gained muscle. 

Here's a picture from a week ago. 

 

The JT intern honey trap continues…

Link to comment
Share on other sites

img-20210909-wa0004.jpg?raw=1

Just as you were mentioning, this 20yo girl coming for an interview tomorrow. She has already graduated (fashion design Esmod), but will nonetheless do an internship at JT with the possibility of staying on as a full time employee.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, I contacted an acquaintance of mine who lectures interior design at Inti. I told him I may need a design for a tailor shop. He suggested they take on my project as part of coursework. They call it Employer Project. I shall have to appear 3X at Inti to address the students. 

Here's what he wrote to me:

"We'll just need you to fill up a form, which will act as your brief to the students. It would have the information that the students need in order to proceed with the design, such as your aims for the space, its intended function, and other technical details like material storage, workspace requirements, etc. 

"After that on our side we will match it to a suitable semester (usually degree semester 2) and adapt it as their assignment brief. We will have to arrange 3 key meetings with you throughout the semester: first one is at the beginning where we brief the students, and maybe you can join in to explain about the nature of your job too. Second time will be mid way through the semester when the students will show you their work in progress so you can give some feedback. And the final time will be at the end of the semester where they will present their final outcome to you (usually fully rendered perspective of how the space will look like)."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The alterations business is big business. Za Altera shows this must be true by having numerous outlets in expensive malls. After 15 years, those outlets are still there. So they must be profitable. 

I get asked several times a week if I would alter such and such. The answer is almost always no. We only alter garments we have made, I tell them. 

So, quite a bit of revenue is lost. The reason I have this policy is because I cannot justify using my attention for alterations (typically small value) when we have high value orders. My attention is limited. 

Just today, I hit upon an idea. Why not forward requests for alterations to my employees for them to follow up and execute in a private capacity? They can make additional income this way and chalk up hours of practise at sewing. They do it at home with their own tools. They also learn to interface with customers. Even the great Andrew Ramroop once supported himself as a student by altering trousers. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm supposed to write a brief for the interior design of a tailor shop. This is for the Inti students. Here is my first draft dealing with the functional areas.

Consultation area

The consultation area contains three elements: the consultation table(s) or counter, the cloth books and bolts, and sample garments (typically on mannequins).

The consultation table or counter is where the initial conversation takes place with the customer. This conversation typically takes between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the number of garments the customer is ordering, whether it is a single customer or a group of customers, and on the presence of stakeholders like wives, fiancees, girlfriends, brothers, and friends.

Information on the types and quantity of garments and their intended uses is solicited from the customer. The customer is then guided on selecting the cloths. Cloth books are retrieved from shelves for this purpose. Bolts of cloths are also sometimes retrieved.

A discussion on styles takes place. For this, the sample garments (typically on mannequins) are used as a point for discussion.

Both the cloth books and bolts and the mannequins must be very close to the consultation table/counter and be visible from it. 

The customer is then invited to be measured.

Two consultation tables/counters shall be provided. Both tables share the same shelves of books/bolts and mannequins.

Infrequently, the customers are in a group of up to 10 people. More typically, it is one customer with an accompanying person.

Due to the length of time, it is necessary to provide chairs.

 

Fitting area

The fitting area houses either one large full-length mirror, or a three-way mirror. It is a place for the fitter to take measurements of the customer’s body, for the customer to change into his garments, and for the fitting process by the fitter. The customer will be in the fitting area at least once on each visit. The time spent in the fitting area is relatively brief, between 5 minutes in the case of changing clothes to 20 minutes in the case of being fitted by the fitter.

The fitting area can be one large changing room, or the fitting area can be separate from the changing cubicle. In the former case, there needs to be visual isolation of the entire fitting area. In the latter case, only the changing cubicle needs to be visually isolated. The fitting area needs to be large enough to accommodate the customer, the fitter, and one stakeholder. The fitter will take handwritten notes during the fitting, so a writing surface shall be provided.

The fitting area is also where the completed garments are evaluated. The lighting should be flattering. No high contrast downlights.

Only one fitting area shall be provided.

 

Waiting area

Sometimes the customer is accompanied by children. They are often ordered to sit in a separate area from the consultation area. Yet, the customer needs to be able to visually and acoustically monitor his children from the consultation area and be able to be heard by his children.

Customers are also sometimes accompanied by people who are not involved in the ordering process and would prefer to not participate in it.

Sometimes, the personnel the customer would like to see is either late or occupied. The customer then has to wait.

The waiting area should be able to sit a minimum of 3 persons. Drinks may be served. The waiting period can be very brief but it can also be as long as 1.5 hours.

 

Workshop

The workshop is where the manufacturing takes place. Some manufacturing is performed on-site, some off-site.

Four functions shall be accommodated in the workshop. Each function shall have its own workstation, which contains equipment specific to it. The functions are: patternmaking, coatmaking, trousermaking and finishing.

There shall also be a workstation for an intern.

Equipment which are shared shall be in a common area.

Each workstation has a workbench that is 6’x3’. There is also a shared workbench that is 9’x3’.

Each workstation has an industrial sewing machine.

The machine park in the common area comprises 10 machines.

Each workstation shall have shelves for storing consumables. It also needs to have an ïnbox and an outbox. Sometimes this is literally a box. Other times it is a rack for the output, say jackets.

Inboxes, outboxes and consumables in the workshop shall be immediately visible. They should not be concealed. Boxes shall be of transparent material. This aids in finding things.

The workshop can either be fully visible, partly visible, or invisible to the customer.

It shall be acoustically isolated from the other areas due to noise from the machines and workers.

 

Window display

There are four possibilities for what the customer sees from outside the shop.

He can be made to see a window display. Typically and traditionally this would be garments on mannequins.

Another possibility is to eschew the typical window display and allow the customer to look directly into the consultation area and other areas like the waiting area.

A third possibility is to have a very porous window display that allows the customer to see past it into the other areas.

There is also the possibility of also making the workshop area semi-visible from the outside of the shop. Or even locating one workstation to a place visible from the outside.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

img_20210914_214652.jpg?raw=1

One of the first suits I'll be handing over post-lockdown. I wish I could take a better picture during the day, but the customer is collecting tomorrow, a day when I have four appointments and therefore no time for photography. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

img_20210915_190349.jpg?raw=1

Trousers for a young Korean man. I find it novel to be making trousers for a Korean. Images of male actors in K drama and of Bntailor's relentless competitiveness come to mind. 

I had previously pre-lockdown made him some shirts. All these are paid for by his wife as a gift to him. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

640px-Tidjane_Thiam,_2015,_London_(cropp

An older picture of Tidjane Thiam, once CEO of Credit Suisse. 

I noticed how the collar points of his shirt are quite visible. In my own shirt collars, I make sure the points are covered by the jacket. 

You see also the Parisian fish mouth lapel. 

I saw a young medical doctor today, who tells me he consults in his office in a suit always. It's common in Australia where he trained and worked, he tells me. General surgery. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was immediately obvious to me he is highly cognitively gifted. I asked him if he has ever had his IQ formally tested. He said he did sit for one when he was quite young, but that he thought the results were inaccurate. 

Why so, I wanted to know. Well, he said, I scored higher than my brother. And my brother studied medicine at Cambridge. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...