In Chinese, suit literally means ‘men’s formal clothes in the Western world’.
These days, most Asians still only wear a suit for special occasions like weddings or special meetings. However, wearing a suit is a very important part of the lifestyle and culture of a European gentleman.
This culture fascinated two young men who came together and decided to bring this culture to their hometown of Macau. Thus, Sartor Lab arises. “My father is an experienced tailor. He has made all my outfits since I was a child. I am imbued with what I have seen and heard what my father did, so I’m also very interested in tailoring,” says Kade Chou, founder of Sartor Lab.
Chou studied fashion design in the US, and upon his return met his colleague and business partner Victor. “Victor studied in the UK; he’s also strongly influenced by the gentleman culture there. He loves my suit very much, so he asked where he could get this. We found there was no high-end bespoke tailoring shop in Macau, which is why we decided to [establish] Sartor Lab.”
Located in the old streets of Macau, the first Sartor Lab shop was opened in 2015. With its stylish, upscale interior the city’s answer to Savile Row, the golden mile of tailoring in London.
Here, clients indulge in all high quality tailor-made garments, designed and produced by the brand itself. “My father is the master tailor of Sartor Lab. When we have some technical troubles, he will give us his professional advice,” says Chou.
Made to measure
Macau has no shortage of tailoring shops; the worst thing is that Sartor Lab has to defend itself from the pincer attack of the international luxury brands and fast fashion brands. But Sartor Lab keeps the faith by providing the best quality products to connoisseurs and successfully stands out of the crowd.
“We are the only suit tailoring shop in Macau which provides haute couture products and service. Every detail can be personalised for clients. The fabrics, lining, and the buttons in our shop are [sourced] from Europe by ourselves,” says Chou.
Living in this impatient era, nobody wants to wait. For Sartor Lab, speed is obviously not its focus as the brand want to create quality products. Normally, one suit requires three to four weeks to finish.
First of all, when clients come to the shop, professional staff recommend a design according to the client’s requirements and profession; for instance, they would not recommend gaudy fabrics to lawyers, but for designers they can choose more stylish and bolder designs, while and the cutting of the pants can be skinnier and shorter.
“We also design a few different suit samples with different details according to the new fabrics we find for those lacking inspiration in style. Clients can also ask for our help to make a suit meet all their requirements,” says Victor.
Sartor Lab is concerned with every detail of their suits. Clients are also invited to customise every single detail from the single-breasted to double-breasted, from shawl lapel to notched lapel, from patch pocket to flap pockets as well as shoulder pads. “We are also the only store that makes Spalla Camicia (sown by hand, which creates a dimpled effect in the shoulder and allows the fabric to flex),” continues Victor.
The second step is choosing the fabrics, which Sartor Lab carefully selects from the most renowned and historic fabric companies in the world, believing that the finest wool is not only a luxurious material but provides the best comfort and quality. This is why a well-made suit is indispensable for men.
“More and more suit connoisseurs come to us. Because we have many unique fabrics including vintage fabrics,” says Victor. “We will recommend our clients the fabrics according to their jobs and occasion. If they need to wear the suit for the whole day, we won’t recommend heavy fabrics.”
In addition to the outer layers of the garments, countless linings can be found here, from low key, elegant fabrics to fancy, playful fabrics, and clients can even personalise the lining with their initials. “Compared to the lining you can find in other shops, our linings are much tender and more air-permeable,” he explains.
During the whole making process, clients need to have at least two fittings. The first will be after they confirm the design. When the suit takes form, clients need to have the second fitting to adjust the fit.
Staff will also help clients select shirts to pair with the suit. All the shirts are also provided by bespoke service. Collar and cuffs can be personalize, as well.
A gentleman’s dignity
When the duo started the store, they only wanted to make suits. Once it became profitable they started to fill in more elements of the gentlemen’s culture. Now the shop is enriched with silk ties from Como, Italy, handmade leather belts and shoes from traditional Italian factories, and many other accessories that gentlemen need.
“Our leather shoes come from Barre et Brunel. The patina is at the heart of the brand. All the patina shoes you can find here are hand-painted by request based upon our clients’ request. This ensures the uniqueness of each pair.” Victor said. “For other people to start up a shop it is maybe very easy but for us it was definitely not. We want to bring the best quality products to our clients so we have to visit all the factories all around the world to collect these products.”
In order to spread the gentlemen lifestyle culture, Sartor Lab periodically holds special events in their new shop in Taipa to provide a platform for all the connoisseurs in town. “We really want to bring a new insight to Macau; we want people to discover the true value of the products,” says Victor. “Our desire is to help our clients tell their stories by our one-of-a-kind bespoke products.”