Getting a tailor-made Asian style business suit

I’ve tried two online tailors, I’ve had off the rack suits altered at tailors before, but until recently I had never had a suit made by a tailor completely from scratch.

tailor

Being here in the tropical paradise of Singapore, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get my first Asian style business suit, and have a tailor make it for me completely from scratch. As in most Asian countries, cheap and skilled tailors are in no shortage here. Just walk in to the mall called Far East Plaza and you’ll probably find at least 50 tailors in that location who are all displaying dazzling suits, coats and tuxedos in the front of their shops.

Choosing a tailor

After extensive research, I settled for the award winning Mohan’s custom tailors, who have a shop in the Far East Plaza complex. Mohans claim to be the oldest and most experienced bespoke tailor in Singapore. They have a Tripadvisor certificate of excellence, and over 40 google reviews with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5. One of the headline reviews that caught my eye stated “When getting a suit in Singapore, ALWAYS go for Mohan’s”. According to their website, they have been in business for 45+ years and have close to 100 000 satisfied customers.

mohans

I was concerned about pricing, since I’m still a student with a limited budget. Most of the reviews also stated that Mohan would get the job done at a great price, which was important to me. In most Asian market-style shops you can (and often are expected to) haggle, and luckily, I’m quite good at it.

Going through the process, step by step

At my first visit to the shop, I was attended by a courteous employee named Elan, and I told him what I was looking for. The Asian style business suit differs from the western on a few points, the most noticeable being the suit lapels.

Western to the left, Asian to the right

The regular western business suit to the left, have two lapels that fold out to expose the tie and standard collar business shirt. To the right, we see the Asian style business suit. It is buttoned all the way up, with no lapels. It also has a rounded collar with no button – to expose the button on the mandarin style collar of the shirt often worn to this style of suit.

Another difference is in the slits at the bottom of the blazer. Western suits normally have either one slit in the middle of the back, or a slit on each side. The Asian style doesn’t have slits, and the bottom opening of the blazer is cut at almost 90 degree angle, compared to the western style of rounded corners. I asked Elan a lot about the different style options and he competently answered all of my questions. One interesting thing he pointed out is that Asian suits can be made to cover the button – which is considered a bit more conservative and formal and would be better for business meetings. Exposing the buttons is considered more “sporty” and leisure.

After some negotiation, we settled on a price that was a bit less than half the initial asked price. He also agreed to throw in a mandarin collar business shirt, which is the style of shirt that goes best with this suit design. Elan took my measurements, and we booked a time for the first fitting, which was about a week later.

The first fitting rolled around and I got to try the pants, shirt, and the base for the jacket. It all fit well, with only a few minor adjustments required. We booked a time for the second fitting, where the customer most often takes the suit home. The second fitting is sometimes used to make revisions or fine tune small things before it’s too late. My second fitting went very well! I didn’t see the need to change anything, and I was very happy with the work. Elan helped me with the tax refund papers, and provided me with a hanger and cover to store my suit in. Here are a few pictures of the finished suit.

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