Xiong Kejia, who has worked in Taiwan, Shanghai and Beijing for a lifetime as Tailor, said, "As Tailor, you are nobody, so my suit is not trademark outside, but trademark inside."
When the Tailor became an elder, he said, "As a boy, when you're ready to sail all over the world, don't forget to wear the best clothes you can afford. And I want to be the provider of this dress."
Be a real Tailor all your life
Mr. Xiong Kejia has a hand-made model in Beijing's suit customization shop: the stiff half of the suit looks like a steel sculpture of the armor of a battle gown, with the phrase "The tailor makes the man." Mr. Xiong said this phrase originated from Shakespeare, but so far he has not found a way to make him feel. This sentence is retained in the English translation of the verb. By contrast, the commemorative badge of Forbes Magazine's Top Ten Custom Suit Shops in the World is not prominently placed. When people ask about it, Mr. Xiong likes to cunningly say, "Don't believe this, fake!" and then confidently say, "There are too many fake things now."
Don't believe this, then what should the visitors believe? In Mr. Xiong's words, "Every man who enters the store should believe in himself and the tailor beside you."
Question: So how can we call it a tailor?
Dave: Real Tailor believes that the change of suits in history is like the evolution of natural species at the same time. So "design" is actually taboo for a Tailor. Because what Tailor does is to "pass on" a suit forever. So a Tailor can never be a designer. Also, if you want to be rich, don't be a Tailor. In almost all movies, you can see a point to'Poor tailor'. Therefore, Tailor is suitable for those who are honest and not so distinguished by birth. Only such a person can accomplish this insistence in a lifetime.
Q: How did you become a Tailor?
Dave: My mother is from Fuzhou, so when I was 14 years old as an apprentice, she sent me to a suit shop run by Fuzhou people. Later, I learned that this suit shop was not simple, that is, the famous "Fuzhou Band" at that time, the master taught the authentic foreign suit production technology. It was not until more than a decade later that I had the opportunity to go to Europe to see the suit craftsmanship of others that I was surprised to find that our routes were exactly the same. Three years later, I learnt to be a master of night work at Zhongshan North Road in Taiwan. I crazily dressed American soldiers who had been airborne from Vietnam to Taiwan on vacation by helicopters, so that they could wear suits for social intercourse in a short period of ten days. Every morning, he knocked on the door of the hotel and made suits at night. Later, I went to the U.S. military base in Vietnam, where I worked as a mentor... In the extreme circumstances of the war, a suit represents a return from harshness to the realm of life, which is a man's desire. Later, I had my own shop. By the 1990s, my shop in Taipei had become a sign specializing in making suits for foreign diplomats stationed in Taiwan. Later, my clients came to the mainland, and I followed them to Shanghai. The decades of Tailor did not require much more than food and clothing and a quiet life. Over the years, I have always kept in mind that I am not a designer of suits, but a "hand", really let this dress speak, live, I hope it is the wearer of clothes, my customers.
Question: As a tailor, if you think suits are a natural species, can you tell us something about the history of suits that you understand?
Dave: What I understand about a suit is actually a coastline. The first thing is to find out,'Who am I and where am I from?'This is our root. From the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean to the Far East, at first, there was a Tailor shop on the ships going out to sea in Europe. In the era after the steam engine, every soldier had to make military uniforms and suits. The suit itself was transformed from military uniforms, which was different from work and represented the soldiers'leisure life. Of course, there is also an Islamic desert route, which talks about homosexuality. When the French army strikes Islamic areas, it must prohibit alcohol and sex and abide by local rules. But young people have to release their passions, so they change their suits to make them more interesting to attract other men. So, in my understanding, military uniforms and suits have a deep origin.
Suit: Always Man To Man's territory
Mr. Xiong has a lovely suggestion for the guests who come in: Please don't bring the closest women around you to choose a suit. Because in his view, "A man should be the person he wants to be, not the lovely person who comes from her world." Mr. Xiong excitedly told us, "You know, in Monte Cristo's Enmity, I saw men wearing beautiful suits. At that time, there was a tail in the suit because of the carriage. I always remember what Shakespeare said in Hamlet: "Put on the most expensive clothes you can afford and go to England."
Question: Do you think suits are a metaphor for the male world?
Dave: As I mentioned earlier, suits first appeared in the pure male world, both on the ocean and desert lines. The suit has always been a man's life and death, just like the armor of our doorway. Medieval heroes bravely confronted each other with armor, and suits were always determined by men's aesthetics of men. I can say this responsibly: "The boys who come here are all for their career, to find a suit of their own."
Question: In your mind, what group of people is your best dressed people?
Dave: Actually, what I want to see is more young people coming to my store. In fact, when I opened my shop, I deliberately avoided rich and powerful people. Rich and high-ranking officials, they can now spend more than 230,000 on your suit, but a few years later? There are many uncertainties in it. However, for young people, they have friends and a future. Even if they can only spend 5,000 yuan on one of my suits now, I can focus on his future. The young people I'm talking about are about 10 to 35 years old.
Question: As you said, young people don't have much income when they start. How do you think about the cost of making your suit?
Dave: Actually, there is a rule in the customization of suits, that is, a suit is roughly a person's monthly salary. A good suit is not really expensive material. I have different sincere suggestions for guests of different income and age. I hope that young people will be able to buy a dress they can afford on a monthly salary. In addition, I also have a wish, is to pass on a "good suit" concept, a good suit for social interaction, will make people restrained, understand etiquette, will let people naturally form a beautiful social image in the outline of clothes. In mainland China, the uniforms we young people wear at school are sportswear. Everything is relaxed. In fact, this in itself is not in line with the spirit of the suit itself. I hope that through the authentic concept of suit making, ready-made clothes can make Chinese young people "stand up".
Question: What you said is to cultivate the culture of suits among the young people in mainland China?
Dave: Actually, I seldom talk about the vocabulary of suit culture. I think Tailor made clothes after all, and followed a way of life to achieve the ultimate goal. That may be what you call culture. So in this sense, I hope that Chinese young people understand this way of life, so that they can wear their battle gowns, appear at the negotiating table, at the wine party, in front of the camera. Let the younger generation of China understand that the suit is actually a very everyday wear.
In his interview, Mr. Xiong talked more than once about the good times and bad times of suits, an imported product, in the special historical environment of the mainland of China. More than once, he said, "I find that the young people in China are getting better and better. I am very happy." When I said to him that I wanted to find a boy of the same age who had just started work to make a suit in Mr. Bear's shop, he almost said nothing and answered, "OK, well, let him come, I can definitely advise him the most satisfactory suit he can afford." He sincerely handed me a business card and asked me to forward it. Mr. Xiong always said that the stories of suits are too complicated. Faced with such complexity, he is apt to become aphasic. He said, "Even if a refutation of suits is made, I can tell you endless stories, but the most important thing is that Chinese young people fall in love with these stories and live a normal life in suits."