Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’m covering another local tailor with my review of Sors Studio.
In this article, I will be chronicling my experience of getting a vest, shirt and pants tailored at Sors Studio. In Part 2 (published next week), I will examine the fit and craftsmanship of the finished garments.
Without further ado, let’s see what getting tailored at Sors Studio is like!
Sors Studio – the Brand
Sors Studio was founded in 2014 by Gary Foo and Daphne Wu, with Gary usually the one that handles day to day operations. Gary studied fashion merchandising during his time at Temasek Polytechnic, and thereafter worked in fashion companies such as Fila and other tailoring outlets for a while before deciding to strike out on his own. Since then, he has garnered a steady clientele, all of whom were impressed by not just his garments, but his service and style advice.
Gary doesn’t just tailor his garments to fit the individual – he goes a step further by tailoring his styling advice as well. According to Gary, Sors Studio is “dedicated at facilitating individuals to find their own awareness in dressing right and to explore deeper into creating their own individual dress style.” Apart from tailoring garments, Gary also offers other services such as image consultation, personal shopping, wardrobe planning, etc! To me, Gary’s keen sense of style is what sets him apart from other tailors. He mentioned to me that giving (clueless in fashion) men a makeover for their big day, and thereafter imparting in them styling tips to improve their fashion, gives him the greatest satisfaction. He even revealed that one of his clients got a promotion shortly after visiting Sors Studio for a makeover! “When everyone else in the office is wearing polo tees and jeans, and you’re the only one looking smart and dapper, you set yourself apart from the rest of your colleagues in the eyes of your bosses,” Gary opined.
With that said and done, let’s see how my makeover went!
Sors Studio – the Experience
Sors Studio is tucked away in a cozy corner up in Arab Street. To locate it, simply look out for Gary’s floral post box!
Gary changes the design of his post box every quarter, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t look the same when you get there! Once there, simply buzz the intercom and Gary (if you have a prior appointment) will let you up.
Climb up the stairs, and you will be greeted by a rather nice showroom! It looks like an interior design showroom! I have to say, out of all the tailors I have visited thus far, Sors Studio’s showroom is one of my favourites. It’s filled with light and bright colours, and sets you at ease the moment you step in.
After greeting me, Gary wasted no time in showing me some of his more unique creations. One that really caught my eye was a denim jacket he did for his client, with floral embroidery at the back! It’s not uncommon nowadays for tailors to do denim jeans, but this was the first time I saw a tailor offering denim jackets, and with such striking customisation options to boot! Being a motorcycling enthusiast, Gary shared that denim is actually one of his favourite materials to work with. If you’re a fan of denim, I think Sors Studio would be a great fit for you.
Of course, Gary does offer more conventional suiting options as well, such as the usual wool single and double breasted suits. However, it was the double-breasted vest that he was wearing that caught my eye the most. The 8 button double breasted vest had a retro, Peaky Blinders feel to it, but it was really the back of the vest that captivated me.
Turns out, Sors Studio also specialises in creating jaw-dropping vests.
Gary regularly searches for unique fabrics from suppliers, and buys a small amount of fabric if he sees something he likes. He then uses these fabrics to form the back paneling for vests. As such, most of these designs are extremely limited – often, only 2-3 garments with the same design are created. Gary shared with me that the wastage for this is very high (his seamstresses have to position the fabric accordingly so that the key elements -the cranes in the above design-are prominent) which is probably why such vests are uncommon at other tailoring outlets.
If you’re a regular reader of my articles, you would know that I love things that are out of the ordinary. After a few more glances at Gary’s vest, I eventually decided to get a vest (as well as a shirt and trousers) tailored over at Sors Studio.
With that settled, Gary and I sat down to discuss the fabrics. Looking at my skin tone, Gary suggested that I go for “warmer” colours which would accentuate my features better. He initially suggested that I try beige (Burberry-like), but I felt that it was too far out of my comfort zone. Unfazed, he recommended a medium grey colour instead – something similar to what he was wearing. After pouring through a couple of fabric books, I eventually decided to go with a light grey/pink check from his house fabric books. Throughout the entire process, Gary highlighted the importance of the wearer (me) feeling comfortable with the colour of the garment. Gary shared: “Only when you’re comfortable with the design of the garment, can you project confidence.”
Sors Studio’s house fabrics (entry level fabrics) are mixed wool fabrics, and I have to say that they are of quite good quality! The fabrics that I interacted with are certainly a cut above those commonly found at more affordable tailors. For starters, the mixed wool fabrics actually have a decent wool content in them. For those uninitiated, the fabric is often where tailors mislead their clients. This is a problem particularly prevalent with cheaper tailors, whereby tailors would advertise their fabrics as “Super 150 wool” or “Wool + Cashmere mix”, or some other utter rubbish when the fabrics are actually comprised of mostly polyester. For more information on what to look out for at a tailor, do read my informational article here.
Having studied fabrics during his time in Temasek Polytechnic, fabric quality is of paramount importance to Gary. To Gary, the garments should feel light and breathable on the skin, especially due to Singapore’s hot weather! As such, even his entry level fabrics are at least mixed wool. However, he does stock premium fabrics such as VBC and Zegna as well.
After settling upon the fabric for the vest and pants, we went about choosing the buckles for the side adjusters, as well as the buttons for the vests. I personally go with brass side adjusters on nearly all my pants – I hate belt loops (why wear a belt if your pants are tailored?), and my love for brass/bronze watches spills over to my taste in formalwear as well. For the buttons, Gary recommended classic horn buttons, which would go well with the retro/1980s/Peaky Blinders vibe of the vest that we were going for.
Next, it was time to choose the fabric for the shirt. Gary recommended opting for an Egyptian Cotton fabric from Soktas, to which I readily agreed. For those uninitiated, Soktas is quite a reputable name in the realm of shirt fabrics. Gary suggested a classic white design, with subtle white dots, which he felt would offset the more “loud” design of the vest perfectly.
For the buttons, we both decided to go with classic mother-of-pearl buttons for the shirt. In my opinion, mother-of-pearl buttons brings understated elegance! However, other options such as horn, wood, chrome, etc are also available.
To guide you through the tons of customisation options available, Sors Studio has conveniently compiled all the options into a book. That’s a great thing, because Sors Studio has one of the most comprehensive customisation options that I’ve seen till date at a tailor! From collar designs of the shirt, to waistband designs for the pants, there are numerous options which I have not seen before. Gary says that this is important – the customisation options are how we express ourselves, and thus he strives to have as many options as possible.
For the shirt, Gary suggested that I try a new shirt collar design that he has been prototyping – what he calls an “epaulette” collar. Basically, the shirt collars will resembles epaulettes, which will result in a more striking appearance especially when worn with a vest. He also recommended me to try out Gurkha trousers, something he noticed that I do not yet have in my wardrobe. I’m always keen to try new things, so I immediately said yes!
Lastly, it was time to pick the trimmings. We went with trimmings on both the pants, as well as the shirt. Unlike at more affordable tailors which will show you a book of linings, Gary has a “treasure trove” of linings stowed away in his cupboard instead. However, as Gary visits his supplier to search for new fabrics regularly, all fabrics are strictly in limited quantity – once a particular design is gone, it is likely to be gone forever. This ensures exclusivity – it is extremely unlikely for you to bump into someone else on the streets with the same shirt trimmings, or vest panel, for instance. This is in stark contrast to more affordable tailors, most of whom use the same book of lining fabrics. While all the designs Gary had looked great, I eventually went with the blue with pink floral design (pictured on the shirt above) for my shirt, and a light purple paisley print (pictured at the bottom of the photo above) as the trimmings for the pants. As for the vest panel design, Gary said that he needed to search for fabric from his supplier – once he sees something interesting that he likes, he will Whatsapp me a picture of it for my approval.
After we finalised the various customisation options, it was time for the measurements!
Sors Studio – Measurement
Gary has been in the fashion industry literally all his adult life, so its no surprise that he knows his way around a measuring tape!
Measurements at Sors Studio is done the old-fashioned way – with a measuring tape and paper. Style may be important, but no amount of eye-catching designs will look good on you if the fit is not on point. Ultimately, the clothes must fit great to look great.
Fortunately, Gary possesses both style and substance. With decades of experience in the fashion industry, Gary is immensely proficient with his measurements, and was able to spot and account for my body’s various irregularities (uneven shoulders, concaved back, thick calves, etc) with a glance. I definitely felt in safe hands when Gary was taking my measurements!
After 2-3 weeks, I returned to Sors Studio for the baste fitting stage.
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.
It’s near impossible for a tailor to get the fit of a garment right on the first try – that would be akin to a writer having his first draft free of all errors! Just like how articles need to go through editing before being published, the basted fitting process is paramount to a near-perfect final product. Here, we loosened the vest (it was too tight at the front initially), and Gary also altered the fit of the shoulders and my back to accommodate the irregularities of my body shape. These issues would be next to impossible to rectify without a basted fitting process!
Last but not least, Gary ensured that both the shirt and pants fitted nicely. In particular, I found that Gary paid great attention to the length of the garments – the sleeve length of the shirt, and the pants length. I could sense an emphasis on having the fabric “fall cleanly”. Gary explained that if the fabric do not drape cleanly, there will be excessive wrinkles, which will detract attention away from the design of the garment, and even make the wearer look unkempt! With Gary, great designs must be complemented with great fit – this ideology was definitely made clear to me during the measurement/fitting process when I was at Sors Studio!
Conclusion – so Sors Studio “shiok” anot?
Definitely. In fact, I’ll say that Sors Studio has been a vastly different experience as compared to other tailors. At Sors Studio, there’s a great emphasis on style and design, with Gary not only tailoring the fit of his garments to the individual, but his style advice as well. He believes that clothes maketh the man, and when one wears good fitting, stylish clothes, one’s confidence skyrockets – clothes are the modern man’s armour. I really enjoyed the style advice of Gary, and whether you’re clueless in the world of sartorial style, or someone with very specific ideas (Gary once did a Geisha design for a Japanese client), Sors Studio is the perfect place to fulfill your style dreams.
Next week, I’ll be showing you guys how the fit and design of the vest, pants and shirt turned out, so stay tuned! For those interested in commissioning garments from Sors Studio, the price for a half canvassed 2 piece suit starts from $650, while a vest starts from $200. Usual lead time for suits are 4-5 weeks, typically with 2 fittings. If you’re looking to dress to impress for a special occasion, I highly recommend turning to Gary at Sors Studio!
Read Part 2 of the review here, whereby I reviewed the fit and style of the finished garments!
In addition, do read my review of Sors Studio’s suit jacket 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!
Sors Studio’s Location:
34 Arab Street #02-01 Singapore 199733