For the homegrown brand, tailoring menswear is all about keeping up with the times.
TRENDS change and are often cyclical. Businesses that ply the trade must thus be as mutable – or run a risk of getting left behind. Such is the stark reality of the fashion industry.
Lord’s Tailor in Malaysia has managed to stay relevant for over four decades. The tailoring establishment was founded in 1974, yet today, it is still considered as the go-to place for a man’s suiting needs.
As much as some would say that quality workmanship is a huge factor for its success, the fact remains: Lord’s Tailor has never shied away from embracing much-needed change.
The business is not just offering bespoke suits anymore. Its latest boutique in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur focuses on ready-to-wear options for men, whereby pre-made jackets, shirts and pants are offered.
Creative director of Lord’s Tailor Kenny Loh explains that ready-to-wear is the new future. According to him, men of the younger generation lack patience. They don’t like to wait for their orders.
“A full bespoke suit can take up to three weeks or more to be completed. By buying off the racks, a guy can immediately see what he has selected. He can still get those purchases altered for a better fit.”
Loh further adds: “If there isn’t anything that catches your eye from the ready-to-wear range, you can then commission a suit to be tailored. However, let me tell you – once you go bespoke, you’ll never go back.”
To Loh, bespoke suits are a superior choice – especially when it comes to having a perfect fit, or meeting special style requirements. He nevertheless, admits that they can be a bit more expensive.
The price for a Lord’s Tailor bespoke two-piece suit starts from RM1,900. Tailored shirts go for about RM350. In comparison, pieces from the ready-to-wear range cost an average of RM1,200 and RM290, respectively.
“It all comes down to preference. Younger guys are more versatile in their styling. They’d buy a suit, then go about mixing and matching it in different ways. So they probably prefer having a wide range of affordable pieces,” Loh states.
In good hands
Thirty-nine-year-old Loh came on board fully with Lord’s Tailor in the year 2000. His father, Robert, was the person who first started the company, but they have witnessed it growing and changing over the years whilst working together.
“My dad is still involved in the day-to-day running of the business though. He wants to remain active. I’m just glad that I have the opportunity to learn from him as much as I can,” Loh says.
Loh’s father has considerable experience. He has dressed prominent figures the likes of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, actor Mel Gibson and renowned shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo.
Lord’s Tailor was first known as Groovy Apparel. Back in the early years, it operated out of a 112sqm shophouse in Jalan Alor off Bukit Bintang. The business is currently based in Ampwalk, with an additional boutique in Bangsar Shopping Centre.
When asked, Loh reveals that his father still maintains a loyal clientele.
“There are customers who still ask for him. Guys that come to me are usually younger and also of those that prefer trendier, slimmer designs.”
As it is, managing a business like Lord’s Tailor requires full knowledge of putting together a suit. It is not just about crunching numbers or laying out a marketing plan. Loh can actually sew and he is capable of designing.
“I started from the bottom, and worked my way up. Now, as creative director, I monitor all design processes. So I’m required to have basic tailoring skills to make sure orders are executed to a set standard,” Loh states.
Loh worked in advertising before returning to the family business and helping his father. As he studied graphic design in art school, he sees a lot of what he has learnt going into his current work.
He says watching his father grow old, yet having to continue working hard, made him want to help. That was what influenced his decision of joining the family business. He just thought that it was time he stepped up.
Suiting a need
Regarding his own personal style, Loh says he is very much a traditionalist. He likes his suits to be of a classic design. A sleek suit, according to him, necessitates trim sleeves and well-fitted pants.
“You see a lot of guys going sockless, paired with cropped pants at the moment. As much as I do like the style being applied to suits, I think that it doesn’t work for every occasion,” he comments.
However, Loh does keep an eye on trends. For example, he feels double-breasted suits are still popular, but chequered ones – especially of a smaller pattern – will be this season’s must-have. Loh’s advice with regard to colour is burgundy. He cautions though – not every guy can pull off a suit in that colour. The slim fit silhouette? He thinks that it will remain popular.
“Material-wise, a lot of fabrics from the older archives are being brought back and put to use. Houndstooth or glen plaid, for instance. Classic fabrics are becoming trendy again.”
“The current generation, they read a lot. With social media, most of my customers are very much in the know when it comes to fashion. Hence, I must be updated. It’s the only way that the business can meet their needs,” concludes Loh.
For more information, visit lordstailor.com.my.