After a decade of suiting up for a corporate environment, someone exiting the business world might be happy to leave formal dressing behind. That wasn’t the case for Alvin Gan, founder of Last & Lapel, a classic menswear store specialising in tailoring as well as ready-to-wear clothing and accessories.
On the day of our shoot, the 35-year-old father of two arrived looking camera-ready in a dark blue suit and striped shirt, complete with tie. “I’m very comfortable in a suit and can wear one the whole day without any issue,” he says with a smile. Before starting Last & Lapel, he worked in the family business for 10 years, focusing on real estate investment. He shares, “We needed to dress well and to be in a suit or at least a jacket. That was actually when I got into classic tailoring.”
Mostly from Italy, Japan and South Korea, the brands and makers Gan carries in the Last & Lapel store are his personal, tried-and-tested favourites. Even so, before he began his menswear business, he made it a point to visit a good number of master tailors at their ateliers in Italy to witness their process for himself.
Since 2016, Gan has been heading to Florence twice a year for Pitti Uomo, a biannual trade show as famous for its clout as the huge number of peacocking gents it attracts. Says Gan: “For me, going to Pitti Uomo is purely business, but it’s funny to see a lot of people standing around outside waiting to be photographed, whether it’s hot in the summer, or cold in the winter.”
Speaking of which, while the warm weather here is an oft-cited reason for dressing down, Gan believes that staying cool in formal wear is largely about understanding fabric and construction. Taking off his navy jacket by B&Tailor, a well-known South Korean tailor Last & Lapel carries, he holds it up against the light, elaborating, “Look, it’s so light you can see through it. This has a very light construction and there is no lining. If you wear a jacket with a full lining, that’s another layer of fabric and it’s going to be very warm.”
But he’s no stickler for formal wear. He acknowledges, “Sometimes, it’s too hot to be in a jacket. When I’m with my kids, aged 9 and 5, I’m going to be in a T-shirt and shorts. I’m chasing after them and doing stuff with them, so I’m not going to be in anything tailored.”
Tailoring is not just for the corporate 9 to 5. From our clothing rack, Gan selected a dark green Ami shirt covered with illustrations of faces, a playful complement to the dark brown suit by Raffaniello – an Italian tailor Last & Lapel works with – that he brought along. “This is a more casual look that I would wear on Fridays and weekends,” he says.