In the stockroom of menswear store Closeknip, there are some 150 shirts that are all of the same design. Where they differ is in their sizing. The shirts come in three colours, each of which represents a different standing posture: hunched, neutral and chest out. Within each category is a multitude of sizing variations. Along with trousers and jackets, these shirts form the made-to-order templates at Closeknip, founded by veteran bespoke menswear specialist Leslie Chia and his business partner Eric Chua. Clients try on these templates and select their choice of fabrics and finishing touches.
A trained fashion designer, Chia started his bespoke menswear tailoring business PIMABS – one floor below Closeknip at Cavan Road – in 2004. The serial entrepreneur was also behind now-defunct Haberdasher, The Clothes Publisher and Clothesmith. The idea for creating Closeknip, a hybrid of bespoke and ready- to-wear menswear, came about after he realised that many of his clients had body measurements that overlapped.
The easy-going Chia shares: “After working in bespoke for nearly 20 years, I realised that many people had similar body structures and the same measurements, and that it was possible to pre-size clothing and speed up the tailoring process.”
Closeknip garments usually take two to three weeks to complete; waiting times are currently longer because of Covid-19. Also, no further fittings are required because customers place their orders according to templates from previous fittings as opposed to bespoke pieces based on individual physiques that are cut from scratch.
Using customer data collected over 16 years, Chia came up with his formula to create the templates used at Closeknip. For the business-minded creative, the brand is a way to offer customers a lower-priced, convenient alternative to his bespoke services. He adds, “People have to lower their expectations about the fit because this is made to order, not bespoke.” Just as importantly, he sees Closeknip as a way to continue his legacy and hopes to franchise the brand to budding entrepreneurs with an interest in the tailoring business.
Right now, Chia is confident that the series of templates he has developed “can fit 90 per cent of people”. And what if he meets a customer who falls outside those parameters? His cheerful answer comes immediately: “Then he will enable me to create a new template.”