Growing the retail business

I have very minimal knowledge on retail business. I see online stores creeping up at an extremely high rate. Most of them sell either clothing source from China or Thailand or even Korea. So this got me thinking for a sec. This post was just merely a short note that id like to make after a conversation with a mid 30s chap who feels that the online business/tailors esepcially is slowly burying the local tailors in KL.
Dressing your best most definitely comes with a price. And today, online retail business is the way to go. Online stores like The Armory and Kent Wang, or even Sam Hober have been in the industry for years. I would like to think that Edwards of Manchester and other similar shoestores have been in the e commerce industry long enough.
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Some prefer blog shops.
Here’s the question. Are blog shops quality come even closer to these online retailers. No. Clothing has to be affordable yet at very minimal expense of losing quality. It is still very possible if you are able to effortlessly pair things up together, a RM50 tie would look like it costed you RM500 and the RM2000 jacket that is ill-fitting would look like you thrifted it off the salvation army joint.
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If you really want to thrift…
The other question is, are most of us willing to spend RM700 and above for a pair of shoes and RM2000 for a jacket, or are we just thrifters seeking for the best deal? This is where used/preloved forums like Styleforum ace big time.
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I recently came across a couple of sites offering reasonable bespoke clothing from Thailand but I dare not vouch for it’s reputation or it’s final product quality. I enjoy the B&M retail atmosphere, even tailoring. There has to be that human touch and chemistry with you bespoke tailor. Tailors are like artists, they need to touch and feel you , talk to you, to know you want and need.
I strongly feel the need to preserve good tailors.
A tailored shirt on baseline cost RM260 onwards. Do note that the fabric will be in house but you do have a choice to bring your own cloth for CMT instead. Price would start from RM150 for labor. It is a known fact that the markup comes heavily from the fabric itself hence why tailors often push for their in house fabric.
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A good fit is always..good !
Yes, we should support these tailors by using their in house fabric, but there is no reason to opt for CMT because choices can get quite limited sometimes.
Grow your business like this man.
I commissioned a pants a while back with this local tailor called Jeremy Tok. Jeremy does not have a store but he moves from point a – b meeting clients at hotels and getting measurements, doing fittings and consultation at ad hoc locations. Smart but notice that his pants maker and shirt makers are still the traditional ones who are stationed at an undisclosed location.
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I would love to meet local shoe makers who are willing to go down the similar route as Jeremy Tok, and I am a firm believer of growing a business but technology sometimes eliminates the human touch hence affecting the final result in bespoke clothing.
I still insist that all B&M retailers should create an online presence. That is a must.

The gut, really matters.

You can have all the bespoke you want in your wardrobe. But here’s the reality check, how many of us actually take the time to look at your waistline. We spend heaps of money getting bespoke trousers, and if you look back at probably 3 years ago, when you just commissioned your first pair of trousers, try putting them in.

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After a few knicks, tucks, bruised waistline, you managed to fit in the trousers but I would really think that was a crusade.

That is not something abnormal, really. Today, most of us head out to town, have a couple of drinks, and then chug in some heavy supper, go home, happy days. Do that for a couple more months, no wait, maybe 2 weeks, and you’ll see an phenomenon called, the horizontal effect. Well actually, its called getting fat, and if you don’t be proactive about it, Houston, we have a problem.

Then of course comes the whole inability to adapt to the new lifestyle, going to the gym 7 days a week like its your new religion, you eventually will dropout. Unless you are super dedicated to prepare clean meals religiously and also workout like a machine, then you might not need this solution.

A few seconds later….

Congratulations, you are legitimately true to yourself and not being pretentions. Life is hard enough lads, and to get in a good hard solid routine, is even harder.

See, recently Mens Skin Centre launched this who Indiba gig at ACME Troika. When I first heard Indiba, I really thought it was some kind of Zumba spin-off, which clearly isn’t true at all.

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To all the skeptics, especially, here’s why I feel that the Indiba is something worth looking at, if you are considering committing to a slimming programme. Im not a fan of using technical terms, but basically in a nutshell, the Indiba machine is non-invasive, and what it really does is that it improves overall circulation via the prionic technology. Sounds technical already, so I think I need to chill out for abit.

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Of course I had to try it out, who wouldn’t want to? So I swung by the USJ 9 branch for a quick appointment and a trial. No thrills and frills, which is something that I am always a fan of. First step; body composition.

So apparently it says that my bodyfat is about 15%, which also could be skewed a little because I had a fairly big breakfast. We had a chat on moving forward, stuffs that I should look at (eg; Basal Metabolic Rates etc), so it was basically a health consultation session bundled in, which is great ! Just look at the overall feel and environment of the centre. Nice and cosy and most importantly, not initimidating at all

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We then went upstairs, undressed (but dressed again with other clothing, ha ha !). The whole process basically took about 30 minutes and it was really just some heat going through your mid section and you’re able to do a RPE on how hot is it. The peak is of course at a 100 but I went constant at approximately 60-80 degrees.

One thing that I sorta like about this whole process is how they manage the expectations of their clients. Not in spot reduction point of view but more on managing each others’ expectations on the expected outcome. Ok here’s the aftermath after 30 minutes. Not bad right ? :D

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I’m not going to ask you try it if I don’t think it’s worth your time or money. What I’m going to do now is just redirect you to a link that has a library of information and you will definitely be able to dig up any facts and figures about the Indiba technology.  “Problem Targeted, Result Delivered!” – Indiba Six Pack for men.

Sign up for a free consultation session here ! If you are on Facebook, which you should be, swing by their Official Mens Skin Center Facebook page.

Do it. Now.

The Augmentation Story

See, I’ve always been a fan of getting everything bespoked. Shoes, ties, shirts, suits of course and even shorts sometimes. But there is always one thing that I’ve always thought to myself. I can bespoke every single thing that I put on, but can I actually bespoke stuff on my face, especially, say nose?

One thing about Asians, that makes us rather unique, is our short stocky built. Unless you have unusual genes, which originate outside of Asia, maybe 30% of your blood is of a Caucasian decent, then you might get decent facial features, for example, a relatively sharper nose.

Then with the whole rise of the Korean aesthetic industry, you see heaps of people flying over to Korea for at least a couple of weeks to get their face fixed. And that is not a bad thing at all. We all strive to look our very best inside and out. And we look our best, we perform better in life (work, social life etc), hence increasing overall output, which is a great thing !

It would be a damn lie if I said that I never thought about going under the knife to look better. But the biggest turn off is the down-time. You literally have to stay indoors and get all wrapped up with bandage all over the place you just put a blade on. That would actually last you for weeks to heal!

Then I started to hear about zero down time aesthetic work. But before I go into more detail, here’s the thing about me and aesthetics, I really have no issues with getting aesthetically better when it comes to physical appearance, but there are just some things that gym can’t fix, like making your nose look better!

Okay back on track, I often hear about zero-down time stuff and how it actually works. So I checked out this place in TTDI called Premiere Clinic and unlike most aesthetic centres, this place looks pro as heck.

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The usual stuff, for first time walk-ins you enter and fill up your details which would just take a heartbeat. Then you just swing over to this very chill room for a quick consultation session. This is where you have a chat with the manager or beauty consultant on what you really wanna do.The last thing you want with consultants is for them to be uptight and trying to not hear you out. These guys are the total opposite. They listen and recommend what you should do if you have no clue. Just don’t say you wanna look like freakin Brad Pitt because no godly aesthetic clinic could possibly do that.

Here’s a fair bit of detail on what I decided to do, on my nose. No not a nose job, just a bit of fillers, to look better.

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The treatment that I did was actually called dermal fillers, which are actually gel-like substances made of hyaluronic acid, which 
are the molecules in our body which gives volume and elasticity to our skin.

In fact it’s one of the most popular procedure at Premier Clinic TTDI. What I was looking for is not something too fake or artificial. What I’m looking at is a natural pointy tip and a well-defined nose bridge, which will compliment the entire face.

See the thing about this treatment, is its practically painless because they’ll just slab on some numb cream and then make some marks on your nose and the procedure begins. Okay, you may fill a tiny bit of a prick on your nose but really, its nothing more like a little ant bite, which is truly nothing.

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Oh yes, its of course reversible, so just incase you feel like looking ordinary again (haha..) then you could just reverse the effect with some sort of an enzyme, which I didn’t find out further because I am pretty satisfied with what I have now. Just to add on, besides reducing wrinkles and volumising the face, these fillers are also useful for augmenting facial features, , such as defining the cheeks and chin and restoring the looks of luscious lips.

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So how long does this temporary augmentation last?  They can last excess of a year, but it still varies from one patient to another though.

So what if you are keen to go? Here’s the website of the clinic which specifically redirects you to the filler link if you’d like understand more http://premier-clinic.com/site/dermal-filler

Check out their Facebook  too! A lot of stuff going on and these guys, are worth the dollars. I might schedule another appointment myself!

S

More footwear.

There is always this very strange behavior of men and footwear. Those who invest at least 500USD on a pair of shoes tend to either wear them forever or sell them off after 6 months. I find this common especially among my circle of friends. I was just having a chat with the baron last week and we already have some sort of a plan to buy more shoes. It just blows my mind when you only have a pair of feet, and so little money!

I think Instagram has a very big role in making us spend more money on shoes. Today, I see Maftei, G&G, Meermin and a whole heap of shoe makers having their own official account, which makes purchasing great quality shoes one step simpler.

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Check these guys out on IG and they will burn a deep hole in your pocket, but put its all worth the burn chaps. 

I like the approach. Visiting pediwear.co.uk or even Edwards of Manchester isn’t that convenient and customer service can be ridiculously awful sometimes.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 1.09.14 AMEdwards of Manchester – The only reason I like them, is their SALE period is really something worth waiting for.

Before I usually sell my shoes or the Cloth Baron’s, we usually give them a quick shine so that the buyer gets them at optimal and ready to wear condition. I usually take this opportunity to document them in pictures.

The most recent shoe that is up for sale is the Vass Italian Ankle Boots in the U-Last. This shoe is going up for sale, used at RM1000 which is a damn good deal. The retail of this shoe could go up to 500USD, and this shoe in particular is very well taken care of. The soles have heaps of life and it comes with a pair of Vass branded shoetrees. Drop me a PM if you are interested, or just shoot me a comment.

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DSC_8006Lasted shoe trees & they are ready to wear!

There is also the upkeep phase of shoes, or some might just call it plain maintenance. The thing about these sort of shoes, is the climate in Malaysia tends to tax the leather a lot, making the leather lose its suppleness throughout usage. That is where great leather care products come into the picture. I am a big fan of Saphir shoe care products. They come all the way from France, but unfortunately a few dealers who carry them in Malaysia puts an awfully high price tag on them.

10422966_10152285073674405_3048932014121109898_nYou can never go wrong with Saphir, really. Get them on Ebay, they start at RM55 for a tin of wax. 

The key products for shoe care in my opinion would always be the renovateur, renomat (if you have too much layers of wax, strip them with the renomat, but use it sparingly) and a tin of polish. I am not quite a fan of creams, so this isn’t really mandatory. The renovateur does a great job in restoring suppleness, no complains.

I have been having this Crockett & Jones Weymouth Handgrades for the past few years. Handgrades are usually described as the higher –end version of C&J shoes. New Handgrades could reach up to RM2000 per pair. The Weymouth has developed an exceptional patina, which adds to the richness of the leather and its overall aesthetics.

10544788_10152285017189405_4406053329582721655_nThe C&J Weymouth Hangrades

Also tried on the Baron’s unlined Alden suede shoes but unfortunately it was at least one size bigger, so that is a bummer.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 12.51.00 AMpicture credit to the Cloth Baron 

I have this intention or desire to commission a bespoke, unstructured linen suit, but where do I wear them. They have to be a little bit heavier, and I like them very scratchy….

S

An essential footwear.

The term essential footwear is very subjective. Some people think one pair of shoe would suffice, and you only purchase another one is when the shoe gets wrecked.

I have always been a fan of investing in quality shoes even at a slightly hectic price tag. Investing in more than one pair of shoes means that they wear off much less, so the principle of volume truly applies, in this case at least.

Shoes are great, they represent character and tells a fair bit about the person who wears them. Earlier this year, I purchased a pair of MTO shoes from Meermin. They cost pretty decent, thanks to the group buy via Mr Cloth Baron (my number 1 source of great clothing and footwear).

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There isn’t any different when it comes to the shine process, base coat, and the followup layers were just thin coats of wax. I find that coating the leather with Renovateur helps alot in bringing out the color and suppleness of the leather.

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If I recall correctly, the leather is sourced from a different tannery, which makes the color and “softness” slightly unique as compared to the regular ones on Meermin.

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Here are some pictures of the shoe and it got featured on the official @MeerminMallorca Instagram too. Thanks guys, all the way from KL to Spain. Gracias !

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Here’s an update on the altered denim shirt that I commissioned via Ah Loke a month back. They are roomier now and it does scream casual a little bit more. 

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This was a spontaneous pic. I love the Fox Umbrella and of course, that suede desert boots from C&J never fails to impress
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B&W, you can never go wrong with that.

I am actually supposed to try out the Baron’s Alden Navy Suede shoes this week, not too sure if the fit is right, but I’ll keep everyone posted. That would be a damn good pair to own !

S

 

That summer..feel

There is absolutely nothing to hide when it comes to our hectic Malaysian weather. Linen is your best friend, in Malaysia or some really porous, airy fresco. I would also think that there are other variants of fabric, which would actually fit our climate *paging Mr Cloth Baron*.

Color plays a very big role as well when it comes to giving the whole outfit a little bit of “kick”. Navy and a fine shade of grey is staple, no doubt. But ideally, you venture out of the norm sometimes, and loosen up a little bit.

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You really can rock up those summer colors at a fraction of the unimaginable costs of boutique brands.

There really isn’t much spent on this outfit. I purchased this unlined jacket at a steal from Uniqlo about 12 months ago. They fit reasonably well for the RM50 price tag. The shirt comes from Uniqlo, RM49 to be specific. The pocket square, was a homemade linen, which is a little bit on the small side of things. There is a unique story about the trousers. It was made bespoke by another tailor, Jerome Tok, who is actually a mobile tailor and does most of his fittings in a hotel. I like the feel of his trousers, it is comfortable to walk, sit and still produces that very fine silhouette. The color is also unique, it is that shade of blue which I absolutely fancy.

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I like leather jackets, there is that good feeling (not very good at expressing them in words) but somehow rocking up with a t-shirt works just well enough for me. Unfortunately, on the more practical side of things, they aren’t very cooling and it gets you all sweaty and steamy in just a heartbeat. Nevertheless, if you are working indoors in an air-conditioned, well ventilated venue, this would be perfect.

I am swinging by AhLoke this weekend to have a quick fit on my most recent pair of trousers, a good ol’ white one.

That, I am definitely looking forward to.

An unexpected mail

See, the thing with moving jobs, especially from where I used to work is the slight change in outfit. I actually thought it was time for a change too. A few weeks back I spoke to Ah Loke to commission a bespoke denim shirt. First thing he asked me was “Why don’t want to buy Uniqlo”. I responded “RM 179 la, retail, if discount also RM50, that one also don’t know when”. He cackled and then took out his ancient denim swatch book.

A few weeks later, the shirt was ready. My first impression was the the chest area was too tight. Truly, it wasn’t the pectorals, he just tends to make things abit tight, and if you leave him unsupervised, he would just go on and on about why it should be “fitting”.

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Bespoke denim shirt from Ah Loke, Uniqlo tan belt (slightly too long) & the good old faithful Ben Sherman chinos

After one wear and a wash, I took it back to him to open up the chest area and loosen up the sleeve, I noticed after the first wash, the material is a little bit stiff, which is expected considering the fact that its just denim.

Denim aside, I was just browsing through my sports coat and I noticed how much I actually miss my fresco jacket. Its sitting in Ah Loke’s fitting room because he is still unable to find the cloth, sad but true. So all I have to do now is wait, which most likely isn’t going to make a difference because finding that little bit of cloth is going to be one heck of a task.

What motivates me to keep on rambling or just talking about my sartorial adventure are emails that I get from readers around the world asking me tips on how to get a decent bespoke suit in KL. Of all people, my technical skills are very little, none in fact. But what I really believe in is that you need to keep terminologies and jargons as minimal as possible. In my opinion, the key to a good suit is that you feel good wearing it, you don’t feel restricted, and you are able to move without having to adjust the sleeve all the time.

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So thanks buddy, for the email and I will definitely respond to you soonest.

Look, its been a while since i wore something bespoke, so here goes something. I love my Carlo Barbera jacket, it is nice and soft and fairly robust. It doesn’t crease easily, something that I would definitely take along when travelling, besides the fresco, which is abit small..

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Bespoke Carlo Barbera quarter lined jacket, bespoke in-house fabric button down shirt, Vanda Pocket square. Background : Fox Umbrella, a collection of ties from a variety of brands eg; Marinella, Drakes etc. & bespoke and OTR jackets. A hint of my good ol’ Wood & Faulk Carpenter bag

My goal this week is to give all my shoes a nice polish, some of them have been collecting dust because all of them in fact aren’t motorcycle friendly and I would feel really bad if I were to use my spit shine shoes and shift up the gears.

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Loake 1880s Tan Brogues, Uniqlo Tan Belt, Porsche Design Aviators, Paul Smith socks & Zepplin Automatic via Red Army Watches

 

Back to the Ah Loke story, Nick, another buddy of mine who I always look up to for inspiration, especially when it comes to living life and sartorial perspectives decided to get a bespoke suit. His old suit was abit too big, he lost alot of weight and now he seeks to pursue his sartorial desire, with less load.

10382992_10152210083554405_6951337092231117252_nAh Loke taking some vital measurements of Nick. Vitally, sartorial

Nick was looking for something subtle, and versatile at the same time. I would like to visit Ah Loke with Nick again for his fitting session, and oh did I tell you, I commissioned another white bespoke cotton pants, and this time I’m going to make sure that Ah Loke gets it spot on.

S

 

Getting a bespoke denim shirt….

I went over to Ah Loke this weekend to pickup the selvedge jeans I got from Uniqlo a while back. I managed to take in the waste and hem the jeans a little. It isn’t the best fitting jeans but it is pretty decent for RM149.

Instead of driving, I took the bike over and swapped the trousers when I got there, I was wearing a bespoke cotton khaki that needs the opened up a little bit at the bottom, too Thom Browne-ish which isn’t my kind of thing.

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The thing about going to Ah Loke is that most of the time you tend to at least commission something before you leave. I will now boldly put the blame on stores like Uniqlo and H&M that only sell slim-skinny, low fit trousers. Very minimal consideration to those who appreciate the traditional way of putting on trousers, at the belly button.

So what did I commission?

I love the shade of blue, so I decided to get one pair of cotton trousers in it. Check out the swatch book, very basic stuff but somehow it always works.

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I realised that my wardrobe does not have a denim shirt, I went to Uniqlo, to hunt one down but they cost about RM100, and for a shirt that is made, most likely in  sweatshop somewhere in the little provinces of China, I don’t think it is worth the dollar. I picked the 2nd from top, the first one is a tad too light. Initially, I wanted to go for pockets, but then, after much contemplation, making it nice and clean is the better way to go. I would love to try, Denim-On-Denim.

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Managed to also spend some time at Marble-8 last Wednesday for Esquire’s 3rd Anniversary. Congrats lad, decent job so far !

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Fantastic view of the Twin Towers via Marble 8

Bumped into Joyce Wong of course, I don’t think she ages at all ! What sorcery is this ! 

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Also met Gabrienna who used to work in DNP, she actually sponsored a couple of Ben Sherman clothing, and I still use them till today. In fact, the chambray shirt is great !

10171620_10152137617164405_3389464502755965171_nGabrienna, myself and her damn good looking friend

I went to Marble-8 with the cloth baron, and of course, he with his baller windowpane suit, killer bespoke material !

1969408_10152139110359405_2227812688120851818_nMyself and the cloth baron. You do not wanna know how much that pocket square of his cost. 

I decided to go with denim that night, threw in a little bit of colour with my bespoke button down shirt and cleaned it all up with a simple navy knit tie. This is probably one of my most frequently used tie. Knit somehow works very well when it comes to dress down casually.

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Knit tie, raw denim jacket, bespoke red stripe shirt, I like it ! 

 The cloth baron was having a little chat with me about getting the Solaro Cotton for some bespoke work, but I’m still..considering it…really..

The hiatus, again.

I have not been blogging for ages. I think the main reason behind this was, plain slacking. I’ve just recently moved to another day job and things are just about to pick up.

And I forgot my username and password. And I finally got it back.

I’ve recently found a solution to the traffic jam, the motorcycle. After months and months of contemplation, being the very fickle minded person that I naturally am, I finally decided on getting the 795.

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I had a few options, the Aprillia Shiver, The Hypermortard, The er6-N, XJ6, and the Duke 690. I think the main selling point of the 795 was the seating position and how it just feels right. Despite the price being on the higher side, it was a pretty damn good value for money, considering the add-ons that I get; a slip on Termignoni exhaust, ECU, and a performance AirFilter, AND a Corse body kit, totalled to about RM10k++ in value.

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I got a pretty good helmet to sort of compliment the bike too. The idea of getting a helmet, when it comes to color is to make sure that it is damn visible, especially at night.

10174925_10152125349254405_8467730997982924256_nI was actually expecting the aesthetics to look a little bit more off, but it does look damn good !

I was also dreading to carry stuff on my back, and decided to invest in this decent Bagster Spider tail bag. The bag is pretty damn good for how much I got it for (RM350). It converts into a bagpack once you arrive at your destination. The only drawback is the setup, but I would think that you should be able to get aftermarket bungee cords that are easier to clip on.

I have not been commissioning much clothing lately. The reason is because I ride a bike to work and wearing anything bespoke would either be too expensive, or too fragile. Unless it is a denim Kevlar jacket, then I’ll stick to bike gear.

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I currently use this and it isn’t that bad at all. Not up to Italy’s Dainese, but the Japanese have been doing a decent job with their bike gear lately

I went to Ah Loke recently to checkout some of his shirting materials. There was a Soktas swatchbook and I am actually quite keen to get some shirts done, and a couple of pants. Not too sure on how much the pricing goes but they should be fairly affordable.

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Here are some pictures of the swatchbooks. Some of them were not from the Soktas Swatch tho.

10155586_10152113565714405_8315380149039079023_nLinen would be the best option in our hectic-humid climate. 

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I managed to also get a pair of very decently priced selvedge jeans from Uniqlo. The “Kaihara” Denim – the world’s best & highest quality denim material, and that’s the real deal. For RM149, this was an absolute steal !

1911783_10152306953855935_2015409720360371071_nPicture thanks to Nick Gomez, one of my sartorial buddies who always have the eye for the finer things in life.

I’m quoting him “Now it’s no longer for rich people, but for ANYONE who wants to enjoy vintage-loom manufactured Kaihara denim with selvedge” -Nick”

I spoke to Ah Loke about how I am actually going to reduce my spending on bespoke clothing a little bit this year, and he responded “That’s ok, I can make motorcycle clothes for you too…”

Funny old man, but I still like him.

I also created a new category, motorcycle, and might change the blog layout when I have the time.

A Shoe Project

Recently, I’ve been trying to work on my shoe-shine skills. I get very fascinated with very well shined shoes particulary those that I follow on Instagram. See, the thing is, I don’t exactly have very good shoes, they are better than those you see in the shopping malls but nothing handmade etc.

Thankfully, the cloth baron trusts me with my very limited gears and skills, to shine his shoes.

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This is all that I have…really…

This is the Vass in the U-last. Sleek as ever but it was too light in color. So I attempted a non conventional way of darkening up the shoe, with a renovateur, wax, toothbrush, and an old tee shirt.

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This was the initial shade of the shoe, it was fairly light and the baron wanted it abit darker.

And…the final results…check out the pics below.

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They aren’t that perfect but I enjoy the scuffs, creates a little bit more of an antique feel to the shoe.

Perhaps it is time to upgrade the shoe care kit. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @shahzeeq because I do post updates on shoes etc.

S