Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this “shiok” Sunday, I’m chronicling the experience, as well as reviewing the fit and workmanship, of a pair of custom jeans I commissioned from HST.
HST (short for Hwa Seng Textile) is perhaps one of the most established tailors in Singapore. I’ve previously chronicled my experience of getting a suit and shirt done with them here, as well as reviewed the fit and craftsmanship here. Now, they have launched a new extension to the brand – HST Jeans! Mr. Goh (boss of HST) shared with me that this was a move to appeal to more millennials, many of whom may not see the need for a suit, but are instead likely to don jeans on a regular basis. I like that HST isn’t just sticking to what they are known for – traditional tailoring – but are also unafraid to try new things to modernise the business.
Without further ado, let’s see how the process of customising your jeans went!
HST Jeans – the Experience
The experience of customising a pair of jeans at HST isn’t that much different from the regular experience of getting a suit/shirt done there.
First, one starts by choosing the type of denim material. There’s a variety of denim material available, in numerous colourways. The denim that HST uses come from Japan and Italy, and the quality is simply quite fantastic – these are jeans that will last a lifetime. There’s regular denim, microstretch denim for greater elasticity and comfort, as well as selvedge microstretch denim (pictured above) which I chose. For those who are uninitiated on the matter, selvedge denim is a special type of denim that is often seen as more desirable. It is woven using traditional loom, with a tighter, denser weave, and often comes across as more aesthetically pleasing due to its cleaner edge. For more information on selvedge denim, do read this highly educational article here!
A lot of us has become accustomed to the fast-fashion nature of jeans – after all, most of us buy our jeans from brands like Uniqlo, H&M, or Levis. Yet, the making of denim – especially selvedge denim – is an artisanal process, one that is still being kept alive today mainly in Japan. To get an idea on how painstaking the denim making process is, do watch the video above. The Japanese selvedge microstretch denim I chose was made in a factory like the one pictured in the Mr. Porter video, and it is humbling to know the care and effort that has been poured in the fabric.
Next, one get to customise the thread colour that will be used in the jeans! For me, I went with a matte gold thread that I felt would contrast beautifully against the navy denim.
If the little fabric swathe isn’t enough for you to visualise how the combination will work, Mr. Goh is more than happy to bring down the entire roll of the fabric for customers to be sure of their choices. If you have read my article on the HST Tailors Experience, being able to see the entire roll of fabric was something I gave HST props for, as compared to most other tailors who can only show you little fabric booklets. This expertise in textiles (unsurprising, given that their name is Hwa Seng Textiles) translate over to their denim jeans as well!
After locking in the thread colour, it was time to choose the buttons. There’s a variety of button designs available, in different materials and colours.
I eventually decided upon a brass button with a laurel motif – it just oozes vintage charm, which I felt it would pair well with the matte gold threading. At this point, Mr. Goh also asked me if I would like my jeans to be pre-washed. Pre-washing denim – often done by chemical washing in an industrial cleaner – has several benefits, from functional ones like preventing shrinkage and making the denim more soft and comfortable to wear, to aesthetic reasons such as making the jeans look faded and worn in. For more information on the benefits (and cons) of pre-washing denim, do read this enlightening article here. In my opinion, unless you’re a staunch denimhead, you should definitely have your jeans pre-washed. While there’s usually a $15 surcharge for pre-washing, you can quote the website “WAHSOSHIOK” while at HST to have that waived!
Last but not least, you can even customise the back patch of the jeans! You can put your name, your signature, even an image if you wish. I decided to put both my signature as well as my name (in Chinese) on the patch – it really makes the jeans feel special and unique, a subtle detail that lets everyone know that this aren’t an ordinary pair of jeans that can be found off the shelf.
With the various customisation options wrapped up, it’s time to move onto the measurements! Given the bespoke nature of HST Jeans, one get to choose what sort of fit they would like – skinny, classic, relaxed, high or low waisted, etc. I decided to go with a classic straight leg cut for a nice blend of versatility and comfort.
The usual measurements (for trousers), such as the waist, leg length, cuff width, thigh width, etc were taken. I noticed that more attention was placed here in the crotch measurements – I was repeatedly asked if I felt the crotch area was too tight. It was later explained to me that when it comes to jeans (as compared to the usual trousers), the fit of the crotch is paramount.
After two week, I returned for the fitting of my custom HST Jeans! Yes – just like a HST suit, there’s also a fitting session for HST Jeans to ensure that the perfect fit is achieved.
During the fitting, a lot of attention was paid in ensuring there wasn’t loose fabric. According to HST, it is important for jeans to drape cleanly. Just like during the measurements, extra care was devoted to how the jeans hug the crotch area. Where there were loose fabric, pins were used to denote areas for alterations – similar to how pins are used during baste fitting sessions for suits!
The back was also pinned up to allow the jeans to drape better on my bum, resulting in a more contoured fit. Prior to this fitting session, I never realised that there were so many details when it comes to how jeans should fit. Just like my initial visit to HST, getting a pair of jeans commissioned at HST opened my eyes to not only the artisanal craftsmanship behind a pair of denim jeans, but also how painstaking it was to achieve the right fit. I know I will never see a pair of jeans in the same light again!
HST Jeans – Review
Given the amount of effort that went into the crafting of this pair of jeans, it is unsurprising that the jeans fit great!
The front of the jeans feats great. There’s little loose fabric, with the jeans generally draping cleanly throughout. The crotch area looks great too – the fabric hugs the crotch area nicely, resulting in a sharp look.
I love the length of the jeans too – it just gently caresses the tip of the shoes, with a slight break. I often see guys wearing jeans where it bunches up at the bottom because the jeans are too long for them – unless you want to look like Enimem in the early 2000s, that really isn’t a good look. I’m glad that HST nailed the length here!
The jeans drape cleanly at the back too! In particularly, the jeans hugs my bottom snugly, giving a nice contoured look.
I’m also really pleased with the material that I picked! I really like the classic navy blue, as well as the rough textured look. It has a nice vintage vibe – I can imagine this being worn in the 80s – but it also comes across as classic and contemporary. I especially appreciate the usage of the fabric edge for the inner pocket, as it’s a subtle detail that (to those in the know) indicate the selvedge nature of the jeans.
Furthermore, I think the brass button/gold threading turned out great! It accentuates the vintage vibe of the jeans, while the subtle colour contrast against the navy denim makes the details pop. In addition, the buttonhole is actually hand-sewn, just like the buttonholes on HST’s suits. As a result, the buttonhole should be much more durable – no worries about fraying or the thread coming loose here!
It’s also possible to customise the inner lining of the jeans. Although not visible when the jeans are worn, it’s still a way for one to express one’s personality. Here, I went with a red floral pattern – evocative of wild passion – which I thought is a nice juxtaposition to the workhorse, rough and vintage look of the Japanese selvedge.
Last, but certainly not least, I simply adore the customised leather patch on the back of my custom HST Jeans. Usually, the leather patch tends to denote the brand name – Levi’s, Lee’s, etc. Here, whilst there’s still the HST branding, the focus is undeniably on your personalisation! In my case, I chose to have my signature, as well as my Chinese name, engraved on the leather patch. Maybe I’m just a narcissist, but it really makes the jeans feel bespoke, a piece of garment that was crafted solely for me. At the very least, it adds undeniable coolness to the jeans!
Overall, I’m very pleased with my pair of HST jeans – it’s definitely the best pair of jeans I’ve worn thus far. To be honest, I seldom wear jeans as I always can’t seem to find the right fit. The off-the-rack jeans I’ve tried before were either too tight, too loose, too long, etc. These are the first pair of jeans to fit me right, and I know I’ll be wearing them for a long, long time.
Conclusion – so HST Jeans “shiok” or not?
Definitely. Like I mentioned, these are without a doubt the best pair of jeans that I’ve ever worn. They fit great, and I enjoyed the customisation process as well, in particular personalising the leather patch. I must thank HST for exposing me to the world of denim and jeans – I’ve really developed an appreciation. The only knock I can think of is the relatively high price. HST jeans start from $300, which is almost twice the price of regular Levi’s jeans. As such, there are certainly going to be those that find HST jeans too pricey. However, for those that appreciate traditional craftsmanship, fit, and personalisation, I think that the price tag is worth it. These jeans are going to last you a decade, if not a lifetime. In many senses, the situation is similar to getting a bespoke suit at HST – there are those that think the price is too expensive as compared to G2000, Benjamin Barker, etc, but for those that appreciate the painstaking care that goes into each garment, they are willing to spend the money for something that they know is well-crafted.
For those interested in getting yourself a pair of HST jeans, I’ve teamed up with HST for a charitable cause. Simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” or flash this article whilst at HST, and 10% of the sales amount will go towards charity! The full list of charities can be viewed here – you can decide to either donate to one in particular, or spread your donation equally across all six. In addition, you can also quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to get your jeans pre-washed (usually a $15 surcharge) for free! Get good jeans, and contribute towards a good cause – what’s not to like?
For those interested in commissioning suits, shirts or trousers over at HST – tailoring is still their bread and butter after all – you can also quote “WAHSOSHIOK” or flash this post to enjoy 10% off any of their tailored items!
Interested customers can book their appointment here.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
HST Tailors’ location:
No 2 Sims Close
Mon to Sat: 11am – 7pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Nigel Gomes, @the_lone_cadre