You can tell a lot about a man by the way he dresses. While a solid shirt and tapered pants can be versatile wardrobe essentials, a good suit is a timeless staple. With the shift in corporate culture, the redefinition of “office attire” and the rise of fast fashion, the relevance of the suit has been questioned in recent years. Javin They aims to bring back the sophisticated appreciation for tailored suiting and bring a taste of Savile Row with Neapolitan influence to the streets of Singapore. From construction and silhouette to fabric swatches, they show us what it takes to tailor the modern man’s wardrobe suit by suit.
You were born in Singapore and founded Common Suits in 2014 right after graduating. Tell us about your first steps in the world of menswear and tailoring?
I founded the company two weeks after my last term paper. I started testing the business model for two days with a small rental stand right in front of the NUS Business School canteen, with two to three posters and used mannequins I bought from Carousel. I started tailoring suits and shirts as a customer while I was a student and I always watched as I was measured. I then went to YouTube and the National Library to see what tailoring information I could find. To re-test the formula I applied to my garments, I disassembled my favorite garments, compared them to my body measurements and found the ideal algorithm for my tastes.
You like to refer to Savile Row in the UK as your ultimate benchmark. Where did your early passion for men’s tailoring come from?
Personally, after all the years of dealing with international standards of tailoring, I like the mix of English, Italian and French tailoring. I’ve always loved the masculine shoulder lines and drape of a structured English jacket. However, I’m very fond of lightweight construction (thanks to our weather) and a contemporary, flattering silhouette, so for the construction and silhouette I draw heavily on neo-political tailoring inspiration and a beautiful masculine shoulder from a Parisian tailor.
Tell us about the fabric selection process and customization steps in Common Suits? How long is the time frame between the initial consultation and the collection day?
It can be intimidating to choose a suit from the thousands of fabric samples we have. So we will usually first boil it down to the purpose of the suit (be it for work, an event, a wedding or leisure). From there, it’s easier to address considerations like work culture, venue, the other gentlemen’s attire, skin color, client’s existing wardrobe, etc.
We typically recommend a lead time of eight to ten weeks with two to three intermediate rounds of adjustments. The schedule may vary a little depending on seasonality.
You repeatedly refer to the anthracite-colored suit as a “must-have” suit in every modern man’s wardrobe. Why is that?
First, it’s a cousin of the black suit, but more versatile than a black one. In western culture, black is mostly associated with funerals. In our culture, it’s usually associated with the corporate industry, from lawyers to customer service providers. Unless you fall into that direction, charcoal is a softer color and more inviting than black. It can also open up more possible shirt and shoe combinations.
In addition to anthracite, navy blue is another basic that every man should have. In fact, a navy blue single-breasted jacket made with our soft construction and natural shoulder finishing can also be used as a sport jacket that you can pair with light-colored chinos or jeans.
Combining a pocket square with a tie incorrectly: mistakes can happen. What are the common mistakes men make when getting dressed?
It can be roughly divided into “stylistic errors” and “technical errors”.
A common style mistake is wearing the exact same fabric for pocket squares and ties. These two are meant to be complementary, but not matchy matchy.
The second most common style mistake men make is buttoning all the buttons on the jacket. It’s an unwritten rule to always leave the last button undone, whether it’s a single-breasted or double-breasted jacket.
A common technical error is a collar gap. The jacket collar constantly stands out from the neck of the wearer. A properly tailored jacket should always fit the wearer’s neck no matter how he moves his arms.
The second most common technical mistake is not correcting uneven shoulders. Most men are asymmetrical and have numerous idiosyncrasies in their bodies. However, many tailored suits failed to solve these problems, resulting in uneven jacket lengths, gaps in the chest area, sunken shoulders, collapsing rib cage, etc.
Tell us about the top pieces of advice you give to grooms looking to invest in a tailored suit for their wedding day?
Consider these few essential elements to find the ideal suit for your wedding:
– Are you going to use the suit for another purpose?
– The venue. Does your suit match the venue? Is it an outdoor or indoor wedding?
– What is the bride wearing? Her outfit should match the formality of her dress.
– Does the fabric color match your skin tone?
– How do you stand out from the crowd?
Where do you see Common Suits in five years?
We are currently present in Manila and aim to be present in more countries over the next five years while offering a broader range of products such as semi-finished suits, polos and accessories.
You mentioned earlier that “buying a suit is actually a long-term investment and not just a decision to be made lightly.” How do you feel about the concept of “fast fashion”?
I believe that fashion has a strong influence on a person’s state of mind, confidence and emotions. That’s what I like about fashion. It’s transformative and the results are immediate. I understand the importance of fast fashion in society as prices are made affordable for the masses. However, I also see that more and more consumers are becoming aware of the sustainability aspect of fashion, which is encouraging.
Which brands in the current fashion world inspire you the most?
Loro Piana, Ralph Lauren, Brunello Cucinelli, Tom Ford.
READ MORE: Loro Piana’s latest campaign starring Hyun Bin is male charisma personified
What are your favorite watch brands?
I aspire to own a Patek Philippe in the future.
They said, “When I started Common Suits, I had my grandparents’ voice in my head: ‘Be humble and true to your values.’ That remains close to my heart.” What is your best advice for a young entrepreneur?
Start first and think later. Many tend to think too much, and as a result, the longer you think about it, the harder it is to start. You may not have the best product or plan right now, but that’s okay. We learn and optimize in the process. That’s how we grow.
Another piece of advice I live by is that reputation is more important than money. We must be honest in the way we conduct our business. Reputation is the one priceless asset that stays with us when we’re gone.
If you could name one person or mentor who has inspired you in your life and career, who would it be?
My grandmother has shown great strength, resilience, and diligence since I was a child. And that formed the basis of my life and my career.
For more information on Common Suits, visit this website or explore the official Facebook and Instagram pages.
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