Bespoke on a budget: the fly-in tailors cutting cloth to fit
MORE overseas tailors, mostly from Hong Kong, are flying in and out of Sydney to offer millionaire looks at budget prices.
Raja Fashions, Himark Martin and Hiras are just three of a new breed of travelling tailors. Boasting large-scale operations, they book hotel suites in Australian cities, measure their clients in 30 minutes and send the details to their factories in Asia. Made-to-measure suits start from just $300, delivered to the customer's door within four weeks. The service may save customers time and money, but one tailor said it spelt death for Australian manufacturing.
Matthew Lawrence has operated his bespoke clothing business in Paddington for eight years. He has 400 regular clients, but in 2008 he had closer to 1000.
''We've definitely seen a 40 to 50 per cent drop in business,'' Mr Lawrence said. ''I blame that on internet shopping, the economy and Hong Kong tailors.''
Martin Raja and Harry Menon, from Kowloon-based Raja Fashions, are two such men.
In an executive suite overlooking Hyde Park, Mr Raja spins expertly around his clients, tape measure in hand.
''This man has sloping shoulders and a hollow back,'' Mr Raja explains, as a businessman stands back turned and arms out, for all purposes an oversized doll. ''This means off-the-rack clothing would not have a perfect fit.''
One of the men there for a fitting insists on being called Jeffrey Archer, not his real name.
Customers on their lunch break politely decline a photo, their work IDs tucked discreetly into their pockets. Both are young bankers, no stranger to designer labels, but say they prefer fit over name.
''It's better to get the perfect fit and have no excess material on your arms or your back,'' one of the men said.
Eventually a businessman agrees to a picture, as long as it doesn't reveal his face or his name. Secretive clients are second-nature to the tailors, who visit Australia five times a year, catering to businessmen, NRL players, cricketers, and personalities in Canberra.
''The most expensive suit we have made was for someone in Canberra,'' Mr Menon said. ''It was $5000.''
Mr Lawrence said overseas tailors were invasive and consumers should support industry at home.
''Especially the politicians. These guys get paid a lot of money, and they should be supporting Australia,'' he said.
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