Eat your heart out Tom Wolfe. That most secretive of vices, the love for custom tailoring, is experiencing its Australian renaissance. Where once men whispered furtively of dark sartorial desires in drawing rooms borne from Kubrick’s nightmares, we now live in an era where sartorial passion is rewarding and (largely) socially acceptable.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Melbourne. Our most cultured of cities, the Victorian capital offers Aussie guys a staggering array of options when it comes to kitting up. It is a metropolis filled with ever increasing numbers of competitive and deftly marketed custom clothiers. Therefore, Trunk Tailors have to bring something intriguing to the table. It isn’t enough to operate on a level tangential to its competitors, they must make their mark in some way that goes beyond novelty.
And rest assured, they do.
A Touch of Bespoke
At a glance, Trunk’s pattern taking MO was what drew me in. Unlike a large majority of made to measure specialists, Trunk do not utilize sample garments or “base models” (as they are called) upon first contact with their customers. What follows is a distinctive pattern taking process in which a client’s measurements are truly collected from scratch. The necessary amount of body data that must be acquired can be notably higher than what MTM connoisseurs are used to, but it yields certain benefits. What would appear – in the vocabulary of a bespoke client – to be a basted fitting is in fact unnecessary for those who wish to commission something. Total turnaround amounts to between four and six weeks, and Melbourne’s geographical proximity to Hong Kong makes even this a conservative time frame. It is a concept that I admittedly still have trouble visualizing. For convenience’s sake we shall call it “akin to, but not quite, bespoke”. Considering the formidable challenge posed by communicating with one’s cutter (in a typical bespoke procedure) the boys at Trunk have done a good thing streamlining the process.
Jack Liang – one half of Trunk Tailors – is deservedly proud of the time intensive rapport being established with the Hong Kong workshop. “Our tailor started in 1987. Heritage wise, he was trained with the British influence. We visited the workshop a number of times over a period of one and a half years to finesse the kind of cut we wanted to produce”. Jack & Homie have combined their discipline of vision with a cutter boasting over two decades of experience. Style and substance are notably present in equal measure.
Devil in the Details
To date, Trunk stock the most interesting array of cloths I’ve seen domestically. The familiar faces put one immediately at ease, with commercially lauded favourites from southern Italy always on the table. However, a wealth of more directed mills, including Fox Flannels & Harrisons (Moonbeam), add additional personality. Jack and Homie maintain an excellent working relationship with numerous cloth retailers, allowing for more exotic one off fabrics to be procured at no additional cost.
In the interest of passion
The creative treasure of partners Jack Liang and Homie Yang, Trunk Tailors is first and foremost a social experiment. The duo are otherwise secure in full time careers (Jack in finance and Homie in luxury menswear) from which they draw energy and resources to focus on their love of custom clothing. With entry level commissions starting at $1200, there is a credible resonance to their mission statement. “We started because we wanted to make friends and chat about good things – cloth, watches, shoes – in between”. Jack is adamant that margins were never the primary concern. As with all great enthusiast-turned-creatives, there is a palpable interest instead in educating others and sharing that interest. “Another reason is because Melbourne is awesome. The coffee, the riding, the whisky, and the people are second to none”.
From a cursory examination Trunk Tailors appears extremely promising. The full array of customization that Australian menswear nerds have so often clamored for is present, backed by very modest costing. Paired with the duo’s earthy friendliness, I look forward to seeing what they do in 2015.