Wardrobe: The Making Of A Bespoke Brand

January 7, 2016

4 min read

 

 

"Dressing well is a form of good manners." - Tom Ford 

 

I am obsessed with the styles of Tom Ford, Victoria Beckham and Olivia Palermo. And when Tom says you've got to dress well, you listen. I am all for jeans and tees but sometimes you've got to up your game in the dressing department to make a great impression, to win a business deal or to even get that dream job. It's a brand new year and a good time to rethink your wardrobe.

 

There are 3 parts to this post:

1. About the brand

2. A special invitation for 3 readers

3. Tips on how to dress well

 

So, please read till the end...

 

Now, let me introduce you to Lim Fang Heng, the CEO of Wardrobe, the bespoke, made to measure menswear brand that is making waves in the international scene with their exceptional quality and customer service in making that perfect suit, shirt and jacket. Fang Heng and I first met exactly 23 years ago as schoolmates. Back then, even in a school uniform, he showed signs of being super "stylo" with his cool and calm demeanor. Not surprising, he is now at he helm of the exclusive bespoke brand. Last year, in 2015, Fang Heng led Wardrobe to be the Winner at the World Branding Awards organizied by the World Branding Forum (WBF). Wardrobe won in the men's fashion category for Malaysia 'Brand of the Year 2014-2015'. WBF is a global non-profit organization dedicated to advancing branding standards for the good fo the branding community as well as consumers. The ceremony took place in Paris, France, honouring 50 brands from 22 countries.

 

 

Here is the Wardrobe story on how they stayed true to their tradition to create a niche breakthrough for themselves, in the digital world.

 

"You've got to be careful in the service industry. There are no second chances. You mess up one time, and they will not come back."  - Lim Fang Heng 

 

Fang Heng: Wardrobe has been in existence since 2001 but in 2010 we made a conscious effort to go for a total rebranding of the brand. Simply because, we feel in the 21st century, relevancy is the key when faced with a complex set of consumers' behaviour especially in the cities, with the online space and people traveling more. Tailoring used to be hard setting, dull, boring and niche, so we looked at rebranding which includes change in logo, colour scheme, retail environment, service culture, product development, product offerings, in fact the whole thing. The top 3 things we did...

 

First: Relevancy

  • Make tailoring appeal to the 21st century gentlemen.

  • Lowering the age bracket. Previously the customers that used to come to us are in their late 30s and onwards, the more established. The younger ones go to the shopping malls, to buy from ready-to-wear brands. With the rebranding exercise, we managed to lower the age bracket, now we see young professionals coming in, the young accountants, the young doctors, the young lawyers, the wedding crowd, which is good. We achieved one of our KPIs.

  • Make our shops more welcoming because they feel that it's more modern. No body wants to be reminded that you''re stepping into an old shop. Even Dunhill who used to be positioned as the old gentleman shop, are now more modern, even the models are younger looking. So that's the direction most menswear are going towards. We aspire to be in that direction.

 

Second: Our core values

This is something we hold very strong to. It's called the Mastercraftsmenship tailoring. This is the term we coined ourselves. It consist of 3 pillars: 

  • Offering quality fabrics and quality trimmings from the world's best, sourced mostly from the european countries, the UK and Italy, from reputable fabric mills. We also made a conscious effort to source even things that you don't see. All these little parts, once it adds up, it gives a very nice looking, comfortable to wear, good quality garment. Our fabrics are also specially chosen to suit the tropical weather, so it is comfortable and not too warm when worn.

  • Our expertise. The founders of this brand were trained in London Saville Row. It is the mecca of menswear tailoring. My youngest brother was also trained in Saville Row for about 2 years. He studied menswear tailoring and design. He also did actual practical work with some of the Houses there. So with our skills, from the founders, those sifu whom have been with us for many years, even from our first brand, The Sparksmanshop. We trained and retrained our people to deliver/uphold the standards of craftsmanship on how to cut and sew. 

  • Good customer service. We train our people on how they're suppose to stand, speak to customers, on delivery and recommendation of designs and fabrics. For example, if the customer who is on the heavy side, we can't say that he is fat, instead we would say "on the wider frame, it is not recommended for you to wear checkered for your shirts or your jackets, we propose for you to go for stripes, because it elogates". These are the little things that we pay attention too. It is common sense and how you want to be treated. Day in and day out, these are the three things that we do.

 

Third: Our positioning

  • We embarked on campaigns that appeal to a larger portion of the young professionals. The campaign was "Made to Malaysiana" which featured interesting characters. The whole idea was to spread the message that anybody can be dressed in a suit regardless whether you are tattoo artist, fine arts activitist, fashion editor or a rock and roll singer.

  • Be relatable. We used real regular people with interesting characters for our campaign. We didn't choose any celebrities.

  • Word-of-mouth is still our strongest. It comes from our repeat customers. That is why, our service has to be impeccable.

 

M: Do you want to experience the Wardrobe service? Check this out...

 

*SPECIAL INVITATION*

Fang Heng would like to invite 3 lucky readers to experience the Wardrobe service at their flagship store in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Each reader will receive a complimentary made-to-measure, bespoke shirt worth RM350 each. All you need to do is:

1. Follow their instagram @askwardrobe

2. Take a photo of your old shirt (on its own or you can be wearing it) and

3. Upload the photo to instagram with hashtag #WardrobeMePlease and a reason why you should get the invitation. Easy peasy!

Fang Heng and his team will choose and reach out to the 3 lucky people for the bespoke experience. Last day to tag your insta pic will be on 22 January 2016 by 11.59pm, Malaysia time zone (UTC/GMT +08:00). Good luck!

 

 

Lastly, here are some tips on how to dress to impress from Fang Heng.

 

1. Find the right fit

Nothing to lose or nothing too tight. If you can fit into a ready-to-wear by all means, it is well and good. But not all bodies are made the same. With made-to-measure or bespoke that we are do, for body measurements for example, the bottom part has about 8 measurements. That's how precise we can get. Eventhough I give you the world's most luxurious one of a kind fabric but if the fit is off, its too long, too baggy, its not going to look good on you no matter what the fabric is made off. If it fits you well, even with a mediocre sort of fabric, you will still look like a million bucks.

 

2. Choose quality over quantity

It's better to invest in quality over quantity. Go for pure wool, pure cotton avoid synthetics like polyesters, man-made fabrics, those are not as luxurious. Polyester is warm, not insulating, stiff vs. natural fiber like wool which a living material and it's softer. It's weaved in such a way, when it's hot it relaxes a bit, when it's cold it shrinks a bit. When it crumples, you hang it up overnight, it relaxes and it goes back straight again.  

 

3. Pick a good design

Certain rules goes with different suits, so a good design and structure are important. We always recommend the proper set of guidelines first but if customers insist that they want something else, we will oblige. Of course, our responsibility is always to inform of what is the proper way of dressing first and foremost. 

 

 

Here's to looking sharp and spiffy for 2016! Thank you Fang Heng for your time.

 

 

~M

 

Photos courtesy of Wardrobe.

 

 

 ***

 

 

M Consulting, the branding and marketing strategy development and activation consultancy, was founded by Mawarni Adam, an award winning marketer with over 13 years of experience in branding and integrated marketing across multiple industries in the ASEAN region. It is her passion in building, revamping, turning around a portfolio, leading change and breathing new life into stagnant business situations that propelled her to establish her own marketing consultancy. Helping others make a positive difference in their businesses excites her. Her direct experience in the Subscription Video-On-Demand, Airline, Insurance, Loyalty, E-commerce, Banking, Venture Capital and Advertising industries, will bring an integrated perspective and valuable marketing input, strategy development and execution to any organization. 

 

Read more about Mawarni here: About M

 

 

 

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