One of the most globalized countries in the world, Singapore, is known for shopping and its multiculturalism, also for its banned chewing gum. Throughout all that Singapore offers there is a developing menswear scene that is very promising. For nearly 20 years one name has become engrained in the Singapore sartorial world, Kevin Seah. We recieved the opportunity to talk with Mr. Seah about childhood, the bespoke experience, and what living “the life” truly is.
I am Kevin Seah, Director of Kevin Seah Bespoke. I handle client’s enquiries and orders. My main job includes sourcing for cloths from mills all over the world, merchandising, and designing for personal and corporate clients.
Did your childhood have anything to do with your current career path?
I grew up discovering fashion when I chanced upon a fashion magazine when I was 13. I was fascinated very much by the Japanese designers then and their artistic and avant garde approach towards fashion. Since then I started my own sketching and was always drawing in my textbooks during school days
You started out in womenswear. How did you make the transition over to menswear and why?
I saw the lack of well made, traditionally tailored garments made with quality cloth in Singapore. I have always been fascinated with beautiful textiles and traditional tailoring. It wasn’t a difficult transition for me as I knew I had my own style and ideas that would be well liked by my clients. I’ve always loved working with my hands, even when I was doing couture; I did my own embroidery work and beadings.
Talk to us about your early days in the fashion world.
I started as an apprentice with a tailoring company that specializes in made-to-order women’s suits and dresses. It was just after my high school days that I got introduced to the owner for the job. I remember at the interview when I was asked to design the owner a suit. With no design background I just picked up a pencil and drew. I actually dropped the pencil halfway sketching! But I got the job because the owner told me I had the guts to design an outfit for her.
So yes you need balls to get to where you want to be!
The bespoke experience…
For a first-time bespoke customer, always remember that it is a relationship. It takes time for you to build a relationship with your tailor. The tailor needs time to understand the customer’s lifestyle and preferences. And keep in mind, consumer tastes change overtime too, and you have to give time to the tailor to accept the change in style and fashion.
What does style mean to you and how has it affected your life?
Style has to come from within. To me it encompasses what you are brought up with and also the different cultures, music, and arts. I think I started off being influenced by music cultures and style. Till today I am still a rebel, someone that dares to defy rules.
How is the Singapore menswear scene? With the rise of menswear in the States, I was wondering if you guys are seeing a change.
Men in Singapore are beginning to embrace the whole new style of menswear. There will always be different style tribes: the preppy, the androgynous, and of course, men who love the classics. They are beginning to wear bolder colours and understand and appreciate better quality products instead of just buying brands.
What’s next for Kevin Seah Bespoke?
We are in the midst of working on our new website and web store. We have had countless enquiries from interested customers from all over the world mainly in America, Europe, and Japan. I am glad that through various social media sites our work and philosophy is being exposed to them. We are proud to be able to start selling our products to them by August 2012.
Many people talk about living “the life.” What is “the life” to you? How do you define success?
I’ve been through ups and downs in my 20 years in fashion. I was fortunate to discover my love for fashion at a young age and I have never stopped doing what I believe in. That is ” the life” to me, living your dream. Doing what you love and what you think you are good at. Having your partner in life supporting your passion and helping you grow in what you do. I am very grateful to my wife who has been very supportive in my work and always believing in me. Success means being recognized in what you do. I feel successful already being granted this interview.
If you could go back in time and give a young Kevin advice, what would you say?
Be openminded, never be afraid to fail.
Every day I wake up and tell myself, “Time to try again!”
Always try and never be afraid of failure. Every failure is a step to success. Positivity is a tool for success.