This week, I’m very excited to introduce Wahsoshiok’s first suit review! Moving forward, I’ll continue not only to feature local watch microbrands, but also tailors in Singapore. I believe that most watch-lovers appreciate watches because of the human artistry and craftsmanship involved – that’s something that applies to tailoring as well. Every man (and possibly woman) needs a good suit. My articles on watches sought to educate readers on the deplorable quality of fashion watches, and steer you guys towards bang-for-buck mircobrands instead. In the same vein, with formalwear I aim to enlighten readers on why you shouldn’t buy off-the-rack suits, and instead consider made-to-measure tailors in Singapore that provides better value for money.
In my maiden suit review, I’ll be covering ethan men, a local made-to-measure tailor. For suits, I’ll exclusively be covering tailors in Singapore – unbeknownst to the majority of Singaporeans, there are plenty of enterprising local tailors who are unfortunately struggling to get their name out (everyone seems to only know G2000 and Benjamin Barker). Hopefully, this website will be able to shine the spotlight on their efforts and guide people (you) towards such places. In Part 1 of this review, I’ll be detailing my experience of customizing my suit and shirt with ethan men. In Part 2 (out this Sunday!), I’ll be reviewing the actual suit itself to see how well it looks and fits.
ethan men – The Brand
ethan men (yes, lower-case e, I’m not sure why too) started in 2014 as roving tailors where they would bring their services to clients’ homes. Needless to say, it was backbreaking work carrying suitcases of equipment and travelling all across Singapore. Somehow, Daniel and Victor managed to persevere and do well enough to open up a storefront at Kreta Ayer (near Chinatown). Eventually, they earned enough profits to shift to their current location in the CBD. Doing so allowed them to serve their customers better, many of whom are working professionals situated near the area.
ethan men was essentially borne out of dissatisfaction. On one hand, there were the rocketing prices for off-the-shelf items and personal difficulties in finding fitted outfits and likable designs. Concurrently, the tailoring trade was either too highly priced or not in tune with the changing market place (out-of-fashion styles and obsolete methods). Furthermore, there was a growing trend of Singaporeans going overseas to have their items tailored (Batam, Bangkok, Vietnam, etc) as it was deemed “cheaper”. As such, the duo, along with two other friends, decided to start ethan men, seeking to provide made-to-measure tailoring at accessible rates. The mission – to make tailoring efficient and low maintenance.
Last month, I paid them a visit and got a suit and shirt done. To let you have a better idea of how the experience at ethan men is like, I’ve chronicled my experience below!
ethan men – The Experience
ethan men specifically designed their store to look clean and simple. Expect white walls, bright light, and none of that clutter that might plague other tailoring fronts. Daniel and Victor pride themselves in providing efficient service and easy-to-maintain clothing – their storefront reflects that mentality.
My initial impression of Daniel was that he was affable and knowledgeable. Notify him of your intention to get a suit done, and he’ll ask: “What do you need it for?” That’s a sign of a good tailor. A good tailor should ask you about your needs, and recommend you fabrics and styling choices as such. A suit for prom is vastly different from a suit in the courtroom, which differs from a suit in the office. In this instance, I told him I wanted something versatile. Seeing as I’m going to university soon (God bless me), and I’m currently job-hunting (I’m broke), I wanted a suit that would make me look more mature, like a professional.
After understanding my needs and the state of my current wardrobe, Daniel suggested grey as the color of choice. Grey (along with navy) is an incredibly versatile color, easy to dress up for formal occasions but a relatively simple affair to dress down as well. At this stage, it was time to pick my fabric for the suit. At S$399, ethan men offers a 2-piece wool-blend half-canvassed suit. That’s incredible value for money, and in terms of build quality sets them a tier above off-the-rack options such as G2000 and Benjamin Barker. If you are absolutely uninitiated to the tailoring world and have no idea what I’m talking about, I highly recommend you read my previous article on suit buying tips here.
Daniel had some grey suit samples on hand, which he conveniently showcased to me. For my needs, he recommended a plain grey suit. Given that I’ll mostly be wearing it for university presentations or job interviews, patterned suits (windowpane, checkers, etc) aren’t ideal. Based on my skin tone, he further recommended a darker shade of grey to prevent my skin from looking “washed-out”. Basically, there would be more contrast between my clothing and me, giving me more presence. Again, this is a sign of an experienced tailor – like the suit, their recommendations should be tailored made to the customers’ needs and physical appearance. After trying both on, I eventually decided to go with the shade of grey on the left – I prefer its bluish-grey hue over the charcoal grey on the right. Note that this is the $399 wool-blend version – for $499, ethan men do offer a more premium wool-cashmere blend option. For those who like their things fancy, I recommend the higher price point – you really can feel a difference when you touch the fabrics. For those (like me) who simply want a good-fitting, functional suit to look good in, the cheaper wool-blend offering would more than suffice. No matter what you do, just don’t get a suit made wholly of synthetic fabric like polyester (G2000 suits are all made from synthetic fabrics BTW).
With the choice of fabric settled, it was time to move on to the other customisation options. Seeing as I wanted a versatile suit, I went with a single-breasted, double button jacket that’s permissible in almost all occasions. In Singapore’s climate, no one really wears a double-breasted suit unless they want to either look like Prince Charles or a Korean lawyer, while single-button jackets are generally reserved for more casual occasions. In addition, I chose to have a slim notch lapel with pink stitched functional boutonniere for a contemporary yet versatile look, as well as straight pockets with flaps. At the back, I went with double-vents to cover my big behind. Again, if you’re lost and confused at this point, thinking: “Huh what’s notch lapels? How are they different from peak lapels?” (Ans: Peak lapels are generally for more flashy occasions, like a wedding or the Grammys), Google is your best friend. Alternatively, you could always just ask your friendly tailor – I’m sure both Daniel and Victor would be more than happy to educate prospective customers!
With all that done and dusted, it was time to move on to my last few decisions. Daniel shortlisted a few buttons he felt complimented the jacket well, and I eventually went with a dark brown corozo button for the jacket. I suggest going for the corozo option as corozo is a natural material as compared to plastic which is of course synthetic. For the trousers, I went with slanted pockets, double back pockets without buttons, and an extended waist closure. I also chose a half-break for my trousers as it’s deemed more professional and formal. In case you’re wondering how does one keep track of all the customisation options that ethan men has to offer, that’s where the Ipad comes in! ethan men constructed this step-by-step illustrative slideshow of the various customisation decisions, making the entire process efficient and quick for the customer. So even if you never had a suit made before, don’t be daunted – the slideshow is really self-explanatory, and Daniel and Victor are there to guide you through the available options!
One of the last things you’ll need to choose for the suit is the jacket lining. This is my favourite part! The jacket lining lines the interior of the suit, and when worn, is unseen to others except yourself. To me, this is the portion where I get to showcase my own personality. I eventually settled on a blue polka-dot polyester lining, as blue is personally my favourite color and I felt it paired well with the shade of grey that I’ve chosen for the suit. ethan men does offer a more premium Bemberg lining, but that comes with a $12.90 surcharge. Honestly, I think that at this price point, a polyester lining would suffice. For the same $12.90, you could get a handmade, 100% silk tie from ethan men, which I personally feel makes more sense value-wise. Of course, if you have an extra $12.90 to shell out, there are worse ways to spend the money than at a lining upgrade. At higher price points, you should look for linings made of silk-blend or even pure silk. But at this price point (which will be even lower if you use the promo code below), a polyester lining is more than acceptable.
Afterwards, we moved on to shirts. Daniel asked if I was feeling adventurous – if so, I could go with a pink shirt, as opposed to the more conventional white. For those who know me personally, y’all know that I’ve no issues with pink, so I readily agreed. I opted for an inner lining for the collar and cuff as well (only an additional $5.90 for both), deciding upon a red floral pattern in keeping with the festive Chinese New Year mood. I have to highlight that even though ethan men’s shirts are priced similarly to off-the-rack ones, they are of much higher quality and value. Firstly, the shirts they offer are wrinkle-resistant and easy iron, sticking to their motto that tailoring should not be a hassle. Secondly, their shirts utilize Japanese interlining in the collar and cuffs that should prevent bubbling (air bubbles formed when the interlining separates from the fabric) from occurring. Thirdly, all their seams are doubled-stitched (felt stitched), ensuring that the shirt is resistant to wear and tear, aesthetically nicer and easier to iron. Lastly, even the button stitching is reinforced, ensuring that your shirt buttons won’t fall out that easily. All in all, the shirts offered by ethan men are a cut above their off-the-rack counterparts despite being in the same price point – probably why their shirts are ethan men’s best-selling product!
I eventually settled upon faux-wooden buttons, a cutout collar, as well as the turnback cuff. I chose the cutout collar for a bolder look, and the turnback cuff for its 007 lineage. Yes – the turnback cuff was made famous by none other than James Bond himself! If you’re interested, you can read a rather intriguing article on it here. I simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to look even a bit like James Bond. I mean, I can’t fight off multiple enemies while jumping out of a burning building, but at least I can dress like 007, right?
To be honest, this is probably the part that you will get the most overwhelmed and confused by. Each collar and cuff have a specific role, and it all depends on whether you’re going to wear a tie, bow-tie, no tie at all, as well as cuff-links. In this instance, it’s important for the tailors to provide the right advice based on your dressing habits. For this scenario, I was grateful to Daniel for lending me his expertise to aid me in choosing the right options for my needs.
ethan men – The Measurement
This is the biggest difference between made-to-measure tailors and off the rack ones. By actually making a suit (and shirt) to your specifications, the fit will be so much better than if you were to go to Benjamin Barker and just grab something that’s been mass produced to fit as many body types as possible.
Firstly, ethan men will take a photo of your entire body, and send it over to their tailors in Vietnam. Oh right, I forgot to mention – ethan men’s production is in-house! They own their own factory over in Vietnam (where manufacturing costs are lower), which exclusively produces garments for ethan men. In fact, one of their team members uprooted his life to move to Vietnam, where he’s overseeing day-to-day production and maintaining quality control. Another tip for you guys: when looking for a tailor, go to one which has at least some degree of in-house production. As a tailor, making garments should be your core competency – when you outsource your core competency, reliability issues invariably follow as you no longer have control over your supply chain.
As it was a century ago, measurements in the tailoring industry are still taken by hand. Some of the important measurements that a tailor should take include the shoulders, arm length, chest size, waist size, armhole width, crotch length (the length of the crotch drop, not your manhood!), leg length, thigh width, etc. All these are essential to you getting a good fitting shirt and suit. Again, I must emphasize that this is the biggest difference between an establishment like ethan men and franchises like Benjamin Barker. The length of our limbs vary – our shoulders, arms, legs, etc. Chances are, one side somewhere is going to be longer than the other (this is the case for me). This is something that off-the-rack garments can NEVER accomodate. G2000 and Benjamin Barker are never going to make suits where one sleeve is longer than the other! This is why if you want a good-fitting suit (or even shirt), you have to pay a visit to made-to-measure tailors like ethan men.
Needless to say, ethan men pays attention to the measurement of the key body areas that I mentioned earlier. Daniel and Victor have both been measuring people for 3+ years now – it’s safe to say that they are seasoned in their craft. Nevertheless, in the event that the eventual garment doesn’t fit you right, ethan men does offer free alternations, which takes only a week. Off the rack outlets like Benjamin Barker and G2000 charge extra for alternations, and tend to have a long waiting time of 2 weeks and above. That’s the lead time of a suit for ethan men! Again, in keeping with their mission statement of efficiency, ethan men has a relatively short lead time of only 2-3 weeks. I got my suit and shirt within two, so if you’re looking for a suit/shirt on short notice, ethan men is a good bet! No promises though, as lead time vary slightly depending on how busy they are during that particular period.
Conclusion – so the ethan men experience “shiok” or not?
Be it watches or formalwear, I judge the brand based on what they set out to achieve. For ethan men, they strive to provide an efficient, hassle-free tailoring experience for their customers. For me, they succeed in that regard. Firstly, the entire process was brisk – from start to finish it only took me around 45 minutes to decide everything and get measured, as compared to hours at other tailors. Of course, if you’re looking for a Saville Row experience this isn’t ideal. But if so, you shouldn’t even be looking at this price point in the first place. In my opinion, ethan men is best for those who prioritise functionality – those who just want a good fitting suit/shirt, fast and affordable. Unsurprisingly, the working crowd is their biggest market. I feel they would be a good choice for students too, who perhaps don’t know much about tailoring and would likely be overwhelmed with other tailors.
That concludes Part 1 of this review! Hopefully, through this article you’ve gotten a better sensing of what it’s like to get a suit/shirt done at ethan men. In Part 2, I’ll be showing you guys how my customisation options turned out, and most importantly, how well the suit fit and look. Stay tuned!
If you liked what you’ve read, and currently considering getting a suit or shirt done at ethan men, all you have to do is to quote “wahsoshiok” for 15% off! Simply SMS them at 87780079 to book an appointment, and include #wahsoshiok in the message (valid until 30 April 2018). I’ve done some calculations, and with the 15% off a made-to-measure 2 piece suit and a shirt from them would only set you back $398! That’s incredible value for money, and I honestly believe you would be hard-pressed to find a better deal elsewhere. For those who have been looking to get a suit for school or work, this is your chance to score a great deal!
Update: Part 2 is now out! Read it here.
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ethan men’s location (in case you missed it earlier or don’t know how to google):
10 Anson Road, International Plaza, #02-96, S079903
Open Mon-Fri, 11am-8.30pm,
Nigel Gomes, @the_lone_cadre