Meet Uncle Chung, Master Tailor and founder of Meiko Tailor at The Pan Pacific Singapore. With almost 60 years of experience in the tailoring trade, it’s no wonder his atelier remains one of the leading names of the bespoke tailoring scene in Singapore.
Uncle Chung still retains the traditional methods of drafting, cutting and sewing every piece of the garment. He reveals that everything is done in-house, including measuring, drafting, cutting, fitting and constructing the pieces from start to finish.
“Every piece of garment is made differently to fit the individual’s body shape. It is like an art piece – no one canvas is the same – this is the difference between bespoke tailoring and made-to-measure services,” shares Uncle Chung.
Bespoke lies in the finest of details
Unlike off-the-rack pieces we find in retail stores, the experience of going to a tailor is highly personalised. One can imagine getting the Savile Row experience – from the selection of the fabric to customisations like lapel type, breast pocket, inner linings, and even little nuances like the accent stitches on the functional horn buttonholes.
Uncle Chung takes great pride in the work that he does and enjoys sharing the key construction points of a good jacket. For one, he believes in only using a full canvas interfacing on all his suits. I can see the neatness and the consistency of the needlework on the sample pieces that he displays. It is a painstakingly laborious process that provides longevity and structure that commercial iron-on interfacings fail to replicate.
A canvas interfacing makes the suit jacket more breathable and gives an ergonomic form onto the body.
Buttonholes on a suit are meticulously and skilfully hand-stitched with absolute precision.
For Singapore’s tropical weather, one can go for lightweight and summer season fabrics, as well as the option of unlined jackets or half-lined jackets that still have the canvas interfacing on the front panels.
On the shelves, we see a variety of fabrics from premium brands like Loro Piana, Ermenegildo Zegna, Dormeiul, Harrisons of Edinburg, Holland & Sherry, as well as mid-range labels like Drago and Vitale Barberis Canonico (VBC).
“Depending on our client’s budget, you always have a choice. What you get is bespoke apparel tailored to fit you in the colours, fabrics, and prints that suit you and are of a higher quality. These are choices you can’t make when shopping for commercial, mass-produced items.”
Where craftsmanship meets style
Uncle Chung also keeps himself updated on the trending styles and cuts to suit his customer’s ever-evolving tastes. He shows me a set of shirts with a contrasting collar and cuff detail, made on special request for one of his clients.
“I am curious about what’s going on in the world of tailoring. I may be old-school, but I am still a young tailor at heart,” he says in jest. “I do observe what the younger professionals are now wearing - from style to seasonal colours and cut,” he tells me. “If not, I will not be able to cater to the needs of the younger generation of our patron families.”
This is where Uncle Chung’s daughter, Adele Chung, a certified colourist and style coach, shares her expertise to provide image advice to customers on creating an ensemble that suits their body, profession, and lifestyle.
“Customers are very well-read these days. They get the latest fashion advice online, but my dad’s philosophy has always been about keeping to the classics with subtle aesthetic touches on the detailing, so one still looks stylish without being too over-the-top,” Adele shares, as she points out to a smile breast pocket on a really nice pink summer jacket.
'Wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you' is the slogan that Adele subscribes to. "Personal branding is exemplifying your personal style that echoes your authenticity and flatters your assets, rather than going for what’s trendy. The worst kind of dressing is hiding who you are.”
Sewing with soul
Uncle Chung says that it is hard to find new apprentices who are keen to devote themselves to the craft. While many are interested in learning basic sewing and finishing techniques, few remain dedicated and committed to the hard work of a career in tailoring.
Uncle Chung says it is important to stay passionate in his line of work. “You must learn how to enjoy your work,” he says passionately. “We are not fashion designers per se. While being able to design a garment is one aspect, it’s also a skill in itself to make the design come to life by knowing how to craft the pieces together.”
Browsing through his design sketches and sample pieces, Uncle Chung’s skill in the craft appears almost effortlessly in his work. From neatly hand-stitched blazer lapels to the perfectly matched checks on his waistcoat, his artistry expresses itself even in the little details of the garments that line his shop. He spares no effort in every step of the tailoring process, and it shows.
Crafting over a thousand suits a year, one can be assured of the quality and craftsmanship at Meiko Tailor that is next to none. Truly, it is a homegrown tailor brand built by a member of our very own Singapore pioneer generation.
The Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore
7 Raffles Boulevard #02-01
Tel: +65 6334 6911
Hours: 10am - 8pm
Asia Square Outlet:
Asia Square Tower 2
12 Marina View #02-17
Tel: +65 6386 9309
Hours: 10am - 8pm