I am an IT graduate and have about 20 years of IT experience under my belt. Working in the office, I see my colleagues, superiors and clients wearing similar clothes from the same handful of branded retail stores. It gets boring to look at sometimes.
When you have done the same thing for almost two decades, it loses it charm. At that point, I want to try something different, to find a passion that I truly enjoyed. My mind and soul is telling me that I should venture into tailoring, not by force, but by choice. I like dressing up, and I like dressing others as well. The transition into running my own business is fairly funny I would say. Being an IT consultant and account manager, My work made me travel to many countries and work globally with clients. The experience of dealing and managing these clients actually translated very well in dealing with clients from my tailoring business. Tailoring is, after all, a service industry.
High Flyer Award Winner
Pinky Tailor has been recognized among the industry with 2019's High Flyer Award for Male Designers. High Flyers represent a new generation of entrepreneurs, taste-makers, opinion leaders and influencers, movers and shakers who, individually and collectively, are wielding significant power over the world we live in.
Q&A with Guru
What is fashion, in your words?
“The suit makes the man,” as many tailors would like to say. Many factors come into play when placing a price tag on a product. You need to consider the material costs, quality of workmanship, company upkeep, marketing and advertising, and so much more. In simple terms, intrinsic value plays a key role in determining the price of a product. But that might not be the case or tailoring.
In any formal event, you will be greeted with a sea of jet black suits, coats and jackets. But very so often, you will spot one or two spectacularly dressed gentleman, in stark white, or striking red or blue. They stand out amongst the crowd. With a single glance, you will remember them for the rest of the evening, and sometimes, for future events as well. To feel confident, to look at your best at the best of times, to command attention and respect amongst your peers and industry leaders, how do you put a price tag on that? “Your first impression is your last impression".
Your tailoring skills. Are they self-taught?
I always have an interest in wearing smart, attractive clothes. But the skills in making them and tailoring them is actually identified by my uncle, Mr. Pinky, the man behind the Pinky Tailor’s brand. Tailoring is actually a multi-generational business for us. My uncle opened his first tailoring store in 1980 in Bangkok, and the business has grown strong and lasted until today.
I used to travel all the way to Bangkok to get my suits done. One day, Pinky pulled me aside and asked me, “Why don’t you try and join the business? It seems that you have the skills.” I have been considering joining the business for quite some time, so I agreed, and picked up the skills quickly. I think it’s because of the genes that run through the family. So now, here we are with the dream of Pinky Tailor’s Malaysia. I would have never thought that I would get into this business, but we have been operating for about three and a half years now.
How has fast fashion impacted the tailoring industry?
The fashion industry is a very broad one where the sky is the limit. In a broad industry, the customer is king. A strongly built young man would want a slim fit for a suit, but it may not look good on a sixty-yearold man. The fast fashion industry is built towards satisfying the broadest audience possible, meaning that each clothing does not exactly fit you properly. We look at age, height, body structure, demographic, physical, personality...There are many things to consider when tailoring a suit for a customer. Each suit is well customised and built for them and them only, something that fast fashion can’t provide. I believe that tailoring will still have a place and an audience in the industry.
Is Pinky Tailors Malaysia independent from the original Bangkok branch?
If I were to describe our relationship, the Bangkok branch is the heart of the business, and it is pumping blood into us here in Malaysia. Pinky is like a father to me, a valuable mentor. He made me who I am today, and whenever I need help, he is just a phone call away. That is why I chose to take the Pinky Tailor brand name instead of my own. There are many clients who venture to Bangkok to get their suits done by my uncle, he is one of the best recommended tailors in Bangkok. Now, his Malaysian clients come here to my shop to get their suits done, without needing to fly further to Bangkok. The standards and expectations of the pinky tailor brand are already there, and I must not lower these standards down. Social media is a very strong marketing tool nowadays, and an angry customer’s complaint could tarnish everything. My uncle has established his brand for 45 years to where it is today. Upholding the Pinky brand name is the hardest challenge in running the business. The clients that we get are extremely sensitive to the quality of work.
Hence, both these branches use similar fabrics, have similar styles, and we do our best to make out customers happy.
You sing praises of the Pinky Tailor brand. What defines that brand?
First off, I would like to stress on our selection of fabric. We do not allow any cheap fabric to enter our store, both in Bangkok and here. We hand pick our fabrics carefully, and we turn away suppliers that offer us cheap products. Meaning, the quality of our fabric is assured, even at the lowest price, starting range. All of our fabrics are of pure wool or wool blend. I am proud to display our pure Italian fabrics - Lanificio Cerruti, Zinnia, Holland and Sherry and many more at my shop. These fabrics are essentially the Mercedes of the textile industry, and they produce really great suits. Our attention to detail is also what defines the Pinky brand. We bring in a certain air of uniqueness to our products, even if it’s a simple shirt. Some details are not obvious until you have personally worn them. Something as simple as changing the colours of the buttons will add a lot of value if done extremely well.
What are the general misconceptions towards tailoring that you normally encounter?
I do not understand, but almost everyone asks for the same colour - Black. In fact, most of my clients just want to buy a black coat, either from a store or from a tailor. I am not a fan of black. If the client’s company does not have a strict dress code for colours, I would almost always recommend going for something more vibrant.
Something that you could not get elsewhere from any other generic store?
You have the option to pick from hundreds of different fabrics, all with its unique patterns and colours. I am not asking you to wear an bright green coat, which can be an eyesore. But do try on something nicer for your office and business wear, not something that every Tom, Dick and Harry is wearing in town. I do not wish for my clients to wear a well-tailored suit but feel like they have wasted money on an investment they have made, just because it makes them look like everybody else.
What advice would you give to aspiring tailors?
Having “The Eye” is important in becoming a tailor. When a client comes to you, they have zero knowledge of how a proper suit would look and feel like. You are responsible for educating them, and guiding them through the process. It is your responsibility to envision how he would look like in the end, and what looks best on him. Hence, “The Eye”. Not in your head, but in your mind. These clients are totally dependant on you. You have the power to turn him either into a joker, or a hero. If you make him a hero, he will bring in more business for you. Learn from your mistakes, and keep doing your best. That is what I am doing now anyway. Not just to aspiring tailors, but to myself as well. All I know is that I need to work hard and establish the Pinky brand in Malaysia so that everyone who is interested in buying a suit should come and