Dandy & Dapper
I have a visitor coming to town for only 24 hours and she'd like to order a custom-made shirt for her boyfriend. It needs to be very high quality. Could you recommend the very best tailor in Hong Kong?
Mr Dapper: No. Don't be ridiculous. The very best tailors will refuse flat out. And so they should. They aren't in the business of churning out hastily made clothing, or foregoing quality for the sake of speed and flight schedules. Indeed, I'd favour the tailor who refuses such a request over the one with the 'can do' attitude. Custom-making a shirt involves a plethora of details that must be carefully considered, including types of collar, cuffs, fabric and fit. And those are just the basics. I would go on to discuss everything down to the potential pleats across the back and on the shoulders; how long you want the shirt to be; the buttons; and even the choice of thread. All too often, speedy tailors will rush you through the process, thereby obliterating all the benefits and joys of bespoke tailoring. Good to great tailors will not only guide you through all the choices, they'll ask questions about your life and style to determine what will suit you best. The process should take a week or more, with fittings. Now, to answer your question about the best shirtmaker in Hong Kong, there can be only one: Ascot Chang (Prince's Building, Central, tel: 2523 3663). Founded in Shanghai in 1940, the legendary Hong Kong tailor does an excellent job of describing the shirtmaking process on its website, www.ascotchang.com. You'll pay HK$1,100 and up for one of its fine, custom-made shirts. It also sells ready-to-wear dress, formal or casual shirts (HK$800 to HK$1,800 each), which might be an option for your friend and a possible incentive for her to bring her boyfriend next time. When they arrive, I highly recommend a visit to The Armoury (3/F, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, tel: 2804 6991). The affable and incredibly knowledgeable experts advise clients from that holistic perspective I mentioned earlier, help each man develop his essential wardrobe, and are affiliated with respected tailors WW Chan & Sons. Which leads me to my final pointer: everyone takes measurements differently. No one in their right mind should have their first shirt made by a tailor they've never used before all based on measurements, which are almost certainly inaccurate.
Mr Dandy: Settle down, Dapper. You yourself claim lifestyle should help to decide which shirt to make. So what if the person ordering doesn't have the funds for the most luxurious and just wants to experience tailoring for the first time after a lifetime of off-the-rack purchases? Who doesn't love the famous Sam's Tailor (G/F, Burlington Arcade, 90 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2367 9423; www.samstailor.com), for example? Ask for Sam's son, Roshan Melwani, and tell him I sent you. Men's shirts there start at HK$350, and there's no extra charge for fast service. There are about 200 fabrics on offer and you'd need to add only a few dollars if you picked the best from the mind-boggling range. Whether they can deliver within 24 hours depends on their workload that day. I also like the out-of-the-box creativity of the custom-ordered shirts by Wet Mojo (HK$980 each; Fang Fong Projects, 69A Peel Street, Central, tel: 3105 5557) even if it takes about two weeks to get one done. They're made with quirky details, including cool print fabrics inside the collar and cuffs, and coloured threads on the seams and buttons. Isn't it great that you can learn about bespoke tailoring and even experiment a bit without the risk of a painfully expensive mistake.