Singapore Artisan Spotlight: Kevin Seah Bespoke Tailor
Traditional British tailoring technique meets modern Asian imagination at this equatorial atelier.
Kevin Seah's showroom is a gentleman's sartorial fantasy brought to life. Tastefully furnished, and with a selection of fine single malts on hand, this is where Singapore's foremost bespoke tailor begins the creative process, inviting his clients to sit back, relax, and dream of the perfect suit.
“It all begins with a consultation,” Seah explains. “Many of my clients want to achieve a particular look and style, and so I act as a kind of technical advisor, working with them to make that dream a reality. Everyone is unique, with different lifestyles and preferences, so that first meeting is vital, allowing me to understand exactly what it is my client needs.”
For the uninitiated, the level of choice could be a little bewildering. Seah has access to a vast array of the world's finest cloths, having forged strong relationships with historic mills in Italy and the United Kingdom, and the sheer number of customisation options — from multicoloured buttonholes to specific stitching patterns — is enough to make your head spin. It's these fine materials, combined with an enviable level of craftsmanship, that make a Kevin Seah Bespoke suit such a unique proposition.
“When I first started out, there was a real lack of quality and imagination,” says Seah. “Tailoring in Singapore was mainly about run-of-the-mill suits. The guy had a fixed idea of what a two-button work suit should look like, and from measurement to collection took two days flat. I wanted to build something better, with an emphasis on quality and tradition, but also with a bit of creativity; a modern twist”.
A self-confessed Anglophile, Seah takes his inspiration from the artisans of Savile Row while at the same time letting his own personality, and his wider cultural environment, shine through. He's a lover of tweed (Harris, of course), a paisley fanatic and an advocate of the leather button, yet he also champions Asian fashion innovators, such as the bespoke spectacle brand Nackymade and Japanese shoe-shine experts Brift H (he brought master shoe shiner Yuya Hasegawa over to Singapore for an event). In a nod to his cultural heritage, he chose the rabbit — his Chinese astrological birth sign — as his company's highly recognisable marque.
This is diversity is reflected in Kevin's changing client base. Credited with helping to kick-start a resurgence of local interest in bespoke tailoring, his customers range from wealthy, well-tailored veterans to relative novices looking to purchase their first bespoke suit.
“We try to make bespoke tailoring accessible. Everyone should be able to dress well if they want to,” he imparts. “We price our suits very fairly, offering the quality of Savile Row at a more affordable price." (Kevin Seah Bespoke suits start at SG$3,000, around €1,850 — or roughly half the £3,000 sum charged by most tailors on Savile Row.)
In order to cater to these varied clients and their individual requirements, Seah has further expanded his repertoire, offering a range of made-to-order garments and custom accessories that reflect the quality and ethos of Kevin Seah Bespoke. These including polo shirts bearing his rabbit emblem, hand-made pocket squares and four-way ties that incorporate four designs in a single item of neckwear. He also caters to female clients, creating gowns and traditional cheongsams in silk and French lace, and plans to launch a women's bespoke service in the near future.
“Ultimately, I would like Kevin Seah Bespoke to be a place for everyone. Whether you come as a couple or alone, whether you're young or old, traditional or more daring, I'd like to think you can come here and find exactly what you need.”