Kenny Loh has always had a creative streak. With most of his childhood and holidays spent in a tailor shop, the move from art school to graphic designer, then store apprentice to Creative Director of Lord’s Tailor feels natural, and he speaks proudly of being the successor to his father.
It took Kenny almost five years before his father, Robert Loh, finally said ‘You are made for this trade.’ That seal of approval meant he could progress from the production side of the store to crafting bespoke suits, perfecting his art along the way.
Lord’s Tailor started as a love for tailoring born in the 1970s; a small family-run store (previously named Groovy Apparel) with a focus on bespoke tailored suits for men. Business was good, but there was always the potential to do more.
Then, a big break they had all been waiting for. In 1975, the team was invited to design and tailor-make a suit for “The Greatest”--champion boxer Muhammad Ali, who was in town for a fight against Joe Bugner. It put the brand on the map, opening doors for many more collaborations.
Lord’s Tailor went on to make bespoke suits for Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, actor Mel Gibson and renowned shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo. Most recently, the brand contributed to a scene in hit film Crazy Rich Asians, where Charlie Wu (Harry Shum Jr.) is seen wearing a sleek navy blue tux in one of the final acts.
What is the difference between bespoke tailoring and made-to-measure? For the latter, customers try on an existing design, which is then fine-tuned to fit them. For bespoke tailoring, no two suits from two different people are alike. Each suit is made from scratch, catering to the individual’s taste and exact size.
“It’s a suit that fits like a glove”, explains Kenny, describing the careful steps he takes to design each piece. The consultation stage is key, as it allows him to understand the wearer’s needs and wants. Then comes the recommendation of fabric, taking into account the climate and even the customer’s occupation. Choice of colour, fit and precise measurements result in the first cut.
It’s a process that cannot be rushed. A normal bespoke suit takes at least 3 to 4 weeks to complete, including a couple of fittings.
The end result is worth it. The adage “Good things come to those who wait” is something Kenny believes in, and judging by the journey he took to become the creative director of one of Malaysia’s most revered tailor houses, it’s a philosophy worth holding on to.