by Jonathan Lai
The tailors of Hong Kong began to make suits for the British during the days of Empire, much like the tailors of Naples. And the decades when Hong Kong was handicapped by lack of access to the best tailor's trimmings are long gone. Today's Hong Kong tailors compete on a world stage with a style that is arguably more distinct than that of Savile Row. Over the course of the coming weeks we will look at the silhouettes and detailing of three of the better known houses: H. Baromon, W.W. Chan and Gordon Yao (the buttonholes in the photo were sewn by Chan, Baromon and Yao respectively looking clockwise from the top).
Baromon, Chan and Yao each have a marked silhouette and characteristic detailing but they share a similar genotype. Clean, close-fitting jackets with a touch of structure, closed quarters and a cupped skirt define the torso. Shoulders have a straight fall with moderate padding on a rounded contour that tapers to a narrow sleeve and trousers come straight with a bit of break as well as a pocket that you never knew you needed.
Our installments will examine suits from Baromon, Chan and Yao that represent, respectively, the first, second and first garments commissioned from each house. The Baromon was made in a week at its storefront in Hong Kong, while the Chan and Yao garments were developed over the course of several months on their regular visits to San Francisco. Each suit is made of 10 ounce/300 gram worsted, and direction was limited to detailing; the subjects of proportion, balance, etc. were left to the discretion of the cutter.
We'll begin with the Boromon suit later this week.