The response to my infamous article, The Value of Influencers and the True Cost of Integrity, prompted me to investigate a content series that aimed to give a voice to the overlooked and undervalued voices of men’s style. Welcome to The Influence Authority.
Our second voice(s) of influence are no strangers to the pages of TVG, regarded by our own Randy Lai as perhaps the most underrated made-to-measure atelier in the country. With their original aesthetic and undeniable passion, it would have been rude not to include Jack Liang and Homie Yang from Trunk Tailors.
What is your game and how long have you been doing it?
We started in my apartment in late September 2014 and called it Trunk Tailors because we had to lug a huge suitcase around the Melbourne CBD for appointments.
Why did you start Trunk Tailors?
I had just came back from holiday in Naples, Milan and Florence and had commissions made in different ateliers. I was very surprised by the inclusiveness, the size of atelier and how small some of the operations were. But at the same time, the product was tremendous. The amount of hand work, the pride in their own individual detailing. On few occasions, tailors that I visited wanted to know who currently cut my pants and would then provide honest feedback. It was less commercial but more pride in their own craft and how they can disguise my amateur cycling thighs etc.
When I returned to Melbourne, the fluctuation of my weight prevented me from placing oversea orders and I had to go back to our Australian programs, which mainly consisted of machine made, AMF stitching and house fabrics.
What values do you place the most importance on when conducting your operation?
I think the most important thing is our product. We started with almost no capital, two return flight tickets and some vintage fabrics that we had saved. We are not models by profession, have very little knowledge in art and are not trained in sales.
For us to attract any customers, we had to make sure our product was better valued and better made than the current market at a similar price point. We take every commission seriously and have cut pants with double barrel waistbands, buttons on cuffs, Milanese buttons on sleeves, single, double, double reverse pleats, pockets in all kind of shapes. This is the value our clients receive, and it is the same expectation should they wish to visit a true bespoke atelier in Quarter Spagnoli, in WW Chan, in Liverano.
How do you feel about the market for menswear in Australia? How it’s perceived, promoted and how the consumer is educated (or lack thereof)?
There is definitely a wide mix in the market. Made to measure products and custom suiting has been around for a while so the older enthusiasts have already made a dozen or more commissions and are happy with familiarity or returning to RTW brands.
On the other hand, there is a lot of new entrants to the market. The consumers are blinded by the rainbow suits and Tom Ford copy peak lapels that they are happy to go wherever is cheaper to mitigate the risks.
With the current trend towards casual dress code, it is even more important to create products that have a good value proposition. Yes, the bolt of pinstripe fabric in the atelier may not get used up by the end of the year, but there will always be a market for better fitted, higher rise cotton moleskin trousers. A soft beige linen jacket that is well made will last many summers.
Being an atelier first and foremost, your role as influencers may come across as contrived, in an effort to push sales of your products. While that is the nature of business, I feel like you guys are truly on a mission to promote classic style in an effort to influence Australian males the right way. Is this the case?
We are trying to offer as many options as possible and let the client choose themselves. We always voice our opinion on the suitability of certain cuts and fabrics for the occasion. I think that instead of labelling as classic style, we are promoting comfortable style, in the sense that the client is comfortable with what he is wearing, knowing the heritage of Fox flannel for winter and how he can work a pair of mid-grey flannel pants into his wardrobe, whether as a suit, with his Barbour jacket or a cashmere sweater.
What tips can you give to readers who are exposed to endless amounts of content daily when looking for inspiration?
I’d recommend following fewer accounts and look outside of the menswear circle. There are much richer contents in other genres.
What does it mean to have integrity?
For us, it’s fewer sales and more facilitating, respecting the customer. We are not master tailors and do not cut jacket sleeves ourselves. However, we are able to rely on our own training and experience to provide suggestions. We are able to advise on the amount of layers of canvas suited for your needs. Perhaps the spalla camicia is too messy for the courtroom, that an alternative to flat front trousers for someone with bigger thighs might be single pleats. Adding suspender buttons just in case or commissioning an extra pair of pants rather than a new suit.
All our suits are cut from scratch just like any bespoke house. We order a certain length of fabric from our supplier, it then gets sent to our workshop and the tailor would draw up every commission from scratch. There are no limitations to our suiting and we facilitate in translating our client’s idea to a handmade garment.
Any final thoughts you can share?
Less is more. Matt Jacobson said in a Hodinkee interview that he had a one in one out rule, if a watch comes in another one had to go. I think that resonated strongly with me. Instead of having 5 grey suits in various shades, perhaps get one in fresco for summer and a flannel for winter. Both are season correct, durable fabrics that will last for years. Prince Charles repairs his suits and still wear it in good health. Save the money and buy more shirts, they wear out much faster.
Thanks to Jack Liang and Homie Yang for their honest and informative insight. Stay tuned for the next instalment of The Influence Authority or read our last interview with Aidan Chappell, Founder of Sartorial Journal.
Head to Trunk Tailors online to enquire.
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