She loves suits — how they make a woman feel so empowered, and how they can be customised down to the finest detail — but couldn’t find one that fit well. As Yeo shares, it wasn’t just the technicalities (“like wrapping paper around a ball”, her former shifu once described), but rather, few tailors would acquiesce to a woman’s different requirements.
So she knocked on the doors of master tailors in Singapore and spent two years as an apprentice, with the vision to “make tailoring more accessible and less intimidating for women”. She set up 3Eighth last November.
How different is tailoring for women as opposed to men?
Design-wise, there are so many variations in what women want. Women are more likely to dress up according to moods; they ask for four iterations of a basic shirt, while men toggle between two style profiles (business or leisure). And while the men ask to keep it plain, women enjoy playing with details. Even if it’s just a boring black suit, they go, “Can I push the limits a bit? Can I play with the lapel or the buttons?” And they love a good, funky lining!
Describe your creative process.
I ask lots of questions. Some ladies tell me they want to wear a jacket without anything underneath so I try to find out details such as what event they want to wear it to, and what undergarments they will wear. If someone tells me she’s doing only tape, I need to consider, for example, how that affects getting the fitting and measurements done. Sometimes I create a mood board too and the process can become intensive as we dissect each picture — what do they like and dislike? — and adapt from there. And because we source for our own fabrics, even if a customer asks for a funky colour, I’ll try my best.
What keeps you going?
It’s heart-warming when customers thank me for starting 3Eighth, because they never knew where to get a good suit. For most women, this is their first time getting one made. Some share with me it’s nice to be understood for once, not only because I’m a woman too but because I try to cater to their needs. My shifu used to tell me that being a tailor goes beyond dressing someone. It’s about forming a relationship — only when you know a person better can you then make clothes that matter to her.
Read more about Singapore’s other creative minds here.
This story first appeared in the September issue of A.