Thursday, 6 March 2008

Getting shirty

Ignore all of the touts on Nathan Road in Kowloon, offering "copy watches" and 24-hour suits. For some of the best tailoring in Hong Kong, head straight to WW Chan.

WW Chan is located in Burlington House, just upstairs from the better-known Sam's Tailor (of which perhaps more in a future post). They're on the second floor, which requires navigating a firetrap of a stairwell. Don't be put off by the surroundings. As soon as you make it through the front door of Chan's premises, you'll find a well-appointed tailor's shop. Bolts of cloth are stacked on shelves along the walls, and cutters work at long tables with shears and paper patterns.

Time was short on this trip, and unfortunately there wasn't time to bespeak a suit. Much to their credit, Chan wouldn't even consider putting through a rush job on a suit. They offered to squeeze in the necessary number of fittings in the time I had available, but they would have to mail the finished garment to me.

I decided to order some shirts instead. There was just enough time for Chan to finish the shirts before I left Hong Kong, allowing me to pick them up on the way back to the airport.

Most of my experience with bespoke shirts is in London, but I found the process at Chan to be more exacting than at most of Jermyn Street's best. Chan uses an individual paper pattern to cut their shirts; they also offer a proper fitting at which they adjust the pattern.

The process begins with taking detailed measurements.

After taking my measurements, I then proceed to pick out some fabrics. I choose a couple of bold gingham checks, in mid and dark blue, both from the Thomas Mason silverline books. I also browse through a fantastic selection of linens, which includes good range of stripes and patterns. I pick out a lightweight linen in a pale blue Prince of Wales check.

I return a couple of days later for a fitting. Chan has made up one of my shirts with a complete body and sleeves, but with sample collar and cuffs made of a rough cotton. A few adjustments are made (for those looking carefully, the sleeves are a bit too short here).

Here, the collar receives some close scrutiny. We debate the angle of the collar and end up making the spread slightly wider.

Another couple of days later, I return to Nathan Road to pick up the finished shirts. I try one on, just to be sure that I'm happy with the adjustments they made. Everything is good, so I pick up the shirts and head for the airport. Chan will keep my pattern on file, so I can order more shirts with a simple phone call.

I highly recommend Chan for shirts. The fit and quality of workmanship are the equal or better of any shirts I've ordered in London, and the Thomas Mason fabrics are excellent.

W.W. Chan & Sons Ltd.
A2, 2/F, Burlington House
94 Nathan Road
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Phone: (852) 2366 9738 or 2366 2634

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