Notes on The Pursuit of Perfection

SMTA Congress 2012

My third article for poskod.sg, The Pursuit of Perfection, is live! In it, Sam and I visit a meeting of some of the most skilled hands and minds of master tailors in Asia, and bear witness to this ageing art form. Sam has been learning about this and sharing it with me for years, and I am so glad we were able to collaborate on this introduction to the fascinating world of tailoring together.

Here are some extra photos I took that didn’t make it to the final cut — look out for the model’s uneven shoulder blades and the difficulty this brings about for creating a smooth back piece.

SMTA Congress 2012
SMTA Congress 2012
SMTA Congress 2012

The piece is already a long one, (thank you if you read it!) but something else I wanted to highlight is the sheer hard work and level of respect that these “old man tailors” have for their life’s craft. Look closely at the photos above — these men are tackling the difficult job of constructing a jacket from scratch but are clad in suits and shirts with embroidered cuffs themselves. No loosened ties or unbuttoned collars here. Look at the tiny stitches that were sewn by hand, and then imagine them being ripped off without hesitation simply because a better fit was required. Look at their hands and the attention in their eyes.

They come from a generation where work spoke for itself and clever marketing buzzwords were unheard of — I could barely find anything previously written about master tailors and their shops online. At first, this made me balk at how difficult it was to do the research for this piece, but I quickly realised Sam and I simply had to go out and talk to them the old-fashioned way. Every conversation with the older gentlemen was refreshing and honest, and not once were words like ‘artisanal’ or ‘handcrafted’ dropped…just saying. ;) I look forward to a resurgence in the importance of fine, detailed work, and hope the article piqued your interest in this world I have come to love. x

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