Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Sunday, I will be chronicling my experience of having a suit and shirt tailored at Mohan’s Custom Tailors.
In Part 1 of the review, I will be chronicling my experience of getting a suit and shirt from Mohan’s Custom Tailors. In Part 2 of the review (out next week), I will be reviewing the fit and craftsmanship of the completed garments.
Without further ado, let’s see how my experience went!
Update: I’m pleased to offer curated tailoring packages from Mohan’s on The Shiok Shop. If you’re looking for bang-for-buck deals, do check out the webstore.
Mohan’s Custom Tailors – the Brand
Mohan’s Custom Tailors has a storied history. Founded in 1971 by Max Mohan (pictured above), Mohan’s Custom Tailors has been situated in Far East Plaza since the mall opened! Over the years, the brand has picked up accolade after accolade, from being ranked as one of the best tailors in Singapore by the Singapore Tourism Board, to being awarded the certificate of excellence by TripAdvisor.
The Mohan brand – and Max Mohan – has become so recognised here in Singapore that the government (more specifically, Gov.sg) even did an entire episode on Max Mohan and his work! You can watch the video above, which recounts the personal story of Max Mohan, as well as the brand story of Mohan’s Custom Tailors, beautifully. This is a man who has devoted most of his life to the tailoring trade – admirable, to say the least.
Alright, let’s delve into the review!
Mohan’s Custom Tailors – the Experience
As aforementioned, Mohan’s Custom Tailors is situated on the ground floor of Far East Plaza (not to be confused with Far East Shopping Centre).
There are more than a dozen tailors in Far East Plaza alone, so finding Mohan’s may be a bit of a challenge if you have never visited the mall before. Here’s a tip: just look for the white signboard – most of the other tailors have black signboards!
Mohan’s store feels like a time capsule – it looks like it has been transported from the 90s! It’s illuminated by plenty of bright fluorescent lights, and rows upon rows of fabrics adorn the walls. There are plenty of mannequins displayed as well for one to inspect and glean inspiration from.
When I was at Mohan’s, I unfortunately had to wait for quite some time – Max Mohan and his staff were all preoccupied with other customers. Initially, I didn’t mind it much, as it gave me more time to survey the shop, as well as make up my mind on what sort of suit I wanted to make. I tried to get some ideas by surveying the variety of fabric that were displayed, as well as the suits commissioned by other customers, which were all hanging neatly on the wall waiting for their respective owners.
After waiting for about 30 minutes, Max Mohan was finished with his previous customers, and brought out some fabric books for me to peruse. He apologised profusely – business has been good, and customers have apparently been constantly flocking in.
Mohan’s carries a wide range of fabrics. Prices start at a mere $250 for a polyester suit, and go well into the four figures for “branded” European fabrics. Mixed wool fabrics (shown above) start at a reasonable $350 for a suit, which is what I would recommend for someone on a budget. Never get a full polyester suit – I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
One of the questions I regularly get is: how do I select a good quality fabric? A good first step would be to ask your tailor for a mixed wool fabric (instead of polyester or tecron ones), but mixed wool fabrics can encompasses a wide range of price points, often due to the percentage of wool in the fabric, as well as the thread (or “Super”) count. As a general rule of thumb, fabrics with a higher percentage of wool and a higher thread count cost more. When stepping into a store like Mohan’s, one can get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of fabric choices – there are dozens of fabric books available! Here’s a tip: ask for the books whereby the fabrics come in individual swatches (as shown above), instead of those that are doubled layered. For those that are interested, the above book of fabrics costs about $500 – a bit steeper than the entry level mixed wool fabrics, but definitely worth it if you can afford it.
While I like the feel of Mohan’s $500 range of fabrics, I unfortunately didn’t find one that interested me stylistically. This is perhaps because of the sheer amount of suits that I currently own (15, at last count), and I pretty much have all the basic colours/patterns already, and then some! I wanted something different, vastly different, from the suits I commissioned previously. I took another look around the shop, and my eye caught sight of a beautiful cream checkered trousers (pictured above) lying in one corner of the shop (probably the order of another customer). It reminded me of the iconic Burberry plaid pattern, and I knew I found what I was looking for.
Given the Burberry-esque British feel of the fabric, I instantly had an idea of the sort of suit to make – a rakish double-breasted 6×1, with peak lapels. I’ve been looking at more double-breasted suits recently, and recently read an article by the Rake which extolled the charms of a 6×1 – my personal style and horological icon, Wei Koh, called a double-breasted 6×1 a “hallmark of the sartorial rebel”. I conveyed to Mr Mohan my regular customisations preferences, such as a double vents at the back, flap pockets, side-adjusters for the pants, etc. Like most of the older tailors I’ve visited, customisation choices are either limited or a price add-on – aspects of the suit such as the inner lining and the buttons are left to the discretion of the tailor to pair. However, you can still request for personalisation, such as changing the thread colour of a buttonhole, or having your name/initials monogrammed. After choosing a textured white shirt to complement the suit, I decided to have have my name monogrammed on the interior of my suit, as well as my initials on the shirt cuff, both in gold. Note: Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” while making an appointment or flash this post while at the shop, and you’re entitled to a free shirt with every suit purchase of $350 and above!
With the fabric selected and the customisations done, we moved on to the measurements.
Mohan’s Custom Tailors – Measurement
Usually, either Max or his staff will take the initial measurements of the customer. However, as it was evening time, Max’s tailor happened to be around doing fittings for other customers and he took the initial measurements for me.
If you have watched the aforementioned Youtube video on Max Mohan, the man above should be a familiar face – a section of the video (around the 21 minute mark) highlighted Mr Koh. Mr Koh is the long-time tailor for Mohan’s, doing the back-end drafting, cutting, fitting, sewing, etc. Mr Koh and Max have been working together for over 35 years!
As mentioned earlier, Mr Koh has been measuring clients for over 35 years – to say that he is proficient in his measurements is an understatement! In all my tailoring reviews, I stress that the most important aspect of a suit is the fit, and the critical factor resulting in a good fit is the person that measures and fit you. Always make sure that the person who is measuring you is experienced and knows what he’s doing. This often isn’t the case when it comes to affordable tailors – I know of other affordable tailors in Far East Plaza that hires part-timers to measure their clients. I’m really happy that Mohan’s is an exception!
After a few days, Max called me back to inform me that my shirt and trousers are ready, and that I could come down for my fitting. Unlike most affordable tailors – who don’t incorporate a fitting process due to cost – all customers at Mohan’s will undergo a fitting to ensure that the fit is right. Here, the first fitting usually comprises of a muslin fitting jacket, along with the completed shirt and trousers. A muslin fit is similar to the baste fitting that one sees at higher-end tailors, with the difference being that while a basted fitting uses the cloth that you chose, a muslin fitting garment is often fashioned out of a cheaper material. Muslin fitting is sometimes used by tailors to save cost and wastage.
Depending on the outcome of the muslin fitting, there may be a baste fitting. According to Max, if the fit of the muslin fitting jacket is swee swee (Hokkien/Singlish meaning literally nice nice) there usually will not be a baste fitting, as that would inconvenience customers by requiring them to come down for another visit. Unfortunately, Mr Koh and I identified a couple of areas for improvement during the muslin fit, so Max decided to have me come down for a baste fitting a couple of days later.
For those uninitiated with tailoring, a basted fitting process is where the tailor will let you try on a skeleton jacket, held together by temporary white basting stitches. For more information on the basted fitting stage, do read this educational article here. As this is labour intensive, the basted fitting process is one that is usually typically only seen at tailors of a higher price point. To me, a basted fitting stage is essential to a true tailoring experience. To quote a line from the aforementioned article: “It’s the difference between flying first class and flying on a private jet.” Not only does it contribute towards a better fitting garment, it is also an experience to behold in itself.
I was personally pretty happy with the fit of the baste fitting. Most areas looked like it flowed nicely, with clean drapes all around. The only area I highlighted was the length of the jacket sleeves – I felt that it was too long, and requested for it to be altered slightly. Upon hearing my request, Mr Koh promptly pinned the relevant areas up and used chalk to denote areas for alteration. Here’s another tip: if you see the tailor using pins and chalk, you should be in safe hands most of the time. I’ve noticed that most of the younger, affordable tailors don’t employ pins/chalk in their measurement/fitting process because they are unskilled in it. If you enter a tailoring store, and don’t see pins and chalk lying around, walk out.
Thereafter, I bid adieu to both Max and Mr Koh as I waited for the garments to be completed.
Conclusion – so Mohan’s Custom Tailors “shiok” or not?
For the most part, yes. I think the value of Mohan’s is undeniable. For just $350, one can get a mixed wool suit, and get fitted by someone with decades of experience such as Mr Koh. Their turnaround time is pretty quick too, with lead time for suits generally taking a mere 1-2 weeks. As they cater heavily to tourists as well, they also do mail orders to almost anywhere in the world! As compared with other tailors that share similar amount of experience – Tat Bee Tailors, HST Tailors, Meiko Tailor, etc – Mohan’s is priced at a much more accessible price point. However, I did have to wait quite a bit (30-45 minutes) every time I visited, as the shop was always packed with customers. If you’re a busy man on a tight schedule, this may be a factor for consideration. On the other hand, it’s also a testament to the store’s enduring popularity – it’s by far the busiest tailor shop I’ve visited till date.
Just for my readers, Mohan’s is offering a free shirt with every suit purchase from $350 and up! Simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” whilst making your appointment or flash this post at the store to enjoy the complimentary shirt. While suits at Mohan’s start at $250, I recommend topping up for the $450 half-canvassed mixed wool suit, which comes with a free polyester cotton shirt. For those looking for better material (important if you’re planning on wearing the suit/shirt frequently), my advice would be to go for the $650 half-canvassed full wool suit, with a free full cotton shirt included. The $200 increment may be substantial, but it is definitely worth it.
Read Part 2 of my review of Mohan’s here.
View Mohan’s website here.
Book an appointment at Mohan’s by calling (+65) 6732 3892.
Mohan’s Custom Tailors Location:
14 Scotts Road, #02-73 Far East Plaza, Singapore 228213
Mondays to Saturdays : 9am – 9pm
Sundays and Public Holidays : 9am – 7pm
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!