Tailoring with a bang
The writer Gay Talese remarked, “Putting on a beautifully designed suit elevates my spirit, extols my sense of self, and helps define me as a man to whom details matter.” To this day, Talese wakes up in his New York apartment, puts on an invariably exquisite ensemble of fine tailoring and makes the short journey of a single flight of stairs to his study, where he begins the writing day. To many, such a ritual would seem ridiculous and unnecessary but for Talese, the act of dressing well is a matter of self-respect.
If there is any store in the world that better encapsulates this philosophy than The Armoury in Hong Kong then I am yet to find it. Founded by Alan See, Ethan Newton and Mark Cho in 2010, this emporium of style is hidden on the third floor of the Grade II-listed Pedder Building in Central Hong Kong. It is renowned in global fashion circles as the place to go not merely for beautiful and unique tailoring from around the world but for an informed, personal and contemporary approach to retail. One doesn’t stumble across The Armoury; one must know of its existence, which is perhaps the reason why it has maintained a growing following of discreet and highly discerning clientele over the years.
The first things that strike you about The Armoury are Cho and See themselves (Newton recently left to set up his own Tokyo-based store Bryceland’s Co), who between them could not be better advocates of the style of tailoring they purvey. There’s a wonderful hint of dandyism about them and yet it is a hushed flamboyance that never approaches the eccentric. The Armoury is really an extension of their own personal wardrobes, showcasing an eclectic array of artisanal brands that you are unlikely to find anywhere else. Indeed, Cho and See pride themselves on their ability to sniff out niche tailoring brands such as Ring Jackets – an Osaka-based ready-to-wear label that blends Japanese, British and American sensibilities together with a southern Italian flair – or un-earthing tiny Italian mills such as Carlo Riva in Lake Como, providing their customers with highly exclusive fine fabrics.
The Armoury’s aesthetic combines the best elements of English, Italian and Japanese tailoring. It stocks brands you might have heard of alongside others you almost certainly will not.
Hong Kong has a long and rich heritage of tailoring, in part from the colonial influence, yet a good deal of it has been lost in the globalisation of fashion. Business people passing through the city will often recount with great pride how they managed to pick up six bespoke suits for the price of one from Savile Row. The Armoury certainly perpetuates the tradition of custom tailoring but prefers instead to focus on the quality of the materials, workmanship and fit. “Fit is everything,” says Cho, “because we believe that unless you’re comfortable, it’s difficult to look great. What we’re looking for in a silhouette is something that has a shape but is not constricting. The problem with clothing that is a little too tightly fitted is that once you have to wear it for an entire day, it becomes a burden and then it’s difficult to look great as a result.”
The Armoury’s aesthetic combines the best elements of English, Italian and Japanese tailoring. It stocks brands you might have heard of, such as Bresciani and Caruso, alongside ones you almost certainly will not, such as Nackymade, a Japanese eyewear maker, and Tailor CAID. “Tailor CAID is Yamamoto-san, a master tailor based in Tokyo, who specialises in American Ivy Style (think Mad Men) but is also very capable of other styles,” explains Cho. “He is a bespoke tailor in the truest sense of the word, tweaking every detail specifically for each individual customer. He excels in creating drape in the chest of his garments, bringing every jacket to life.”
Indeed, any visit to The Armoury will bring your wardrobe to life and I dare say that frequent visitors to Hong Kong will be forever reluctant to purchase their clothes from anywhere else in the world.