Collaborative pieces abound here, such as Albert Thurston braces made to Seah’s specifications.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Collaborative pieces abound here, such as Albert Thurston braces made to Seah’s specifications.

My Reading Room


Kevin Seah might be one of Singapore’s best-known names for bespoke suits, but his dream is to be the sartorial equivalent of a food stall peddling meat and vegetable dishes. Speaking to us on a rainy day at his gentlemen’s club-like atelier at Boat Quay, Seah declares: “I want to be a caipng stall.” The Hokkien term refers to a local food stall selling rice with a wide choice of accompanying dishes.

He continues: “I want to sell vegetables, chicken, egg – I want to off er variety and options. It doesn’t mean we do lower-grade stuff ; it’s about timing. Once you have a certain number of customers who can help to sustain your business, it’s time to diversify.” Paul Smith, the English designer whose business includes tailoring and ready-to-wear lines, as well as a variety of design projects on the side, is an inspiration.

This is why 42-year-old Seah, who started out as an apprentice in women’s tailoring when he was just 17, has been building a ready-to-wear clothing collection since the start of this year. The collection adds to the range of items stocked at his shop, such as shoes from makers such as Edward Green and Masaru Okuyama, as well as homewares sourced from countries like Japan and Israel.

His ready-to-wear collection focuses on “easy-towear” pieces with a Kevin Seah twist (and, of course, the label’s quality). Think, for instance, polo shirts made from Japanese pique fabric, and accentuated with handstitched bar tacks (reinforcing stitches) in contrasting colours; or more fashion-forward items like Cuban shirts.

These off -the-rack pieces also serve as base models for made-to-measure orders. Seah elaborates: “Our clients can customise the fit, fabric and colours; this is not something the big shops can do for you. But we have 40,000 fabric samples here, and we can make it happen.” It doesn’t stop there: He plans to debut his readytowear collection next year at PittiUomo, a major international menswear trade fair held in Florence biannually. But he’ll have to keep an eye on the clock. Says Seah: “Retailers in Japan, Italy, the UK and the US have expressed interest – but I haven’t had the time. Hopefully, I’ll be the first Singapore brand to present at Pitti.” 

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