CYC, a heritage tailor famed for tailoring clothes for many prolific Singaporeans, has moved to a new home. There are several new features: the giant interactive screen at the entrance allows customers to enter the world of tailoring; bespoke shoes, allowing CYC to dress their customers from head to toe; and the children’s magnet wall in the store, which allows children to play clothing-related games. Two generations of women at the helm bring new ways of thinking, a breath of fresh air.
CYC, the local 84-year old tailoring company, has shifted its home from Capitol Piazza’s second floor to the first floor, beside Wu Pao Chun bakery. Its new decor and expanded space gave the 3rd generation successor, Chiang Loo Fern, an opportunity to explore new ideas, injecting a brand new element into CYC’s flagship store to attract a new generation of customers.
Innovation starts from the facade. The new store entrance features a giant interactive screen, allowing customers to enter the world of tailoring without having to step into the store. Customers can choose their favourite fabric from the screen, customising all kinds of styles, such as collar style, sleeve length, as well as viewing the model from different angles, pairing it with trousers of various fabrics. Customers can also choose between a tucked-in or untucked style, to see the number of permutations they can come up with. The touchscreen also plays a specially made video by CYC, featuring everyday men to showcase the Classic, Dramatic, Romantic and Natural dressing styles. These 4 personalities allows customers to better understand their dressing style, and allow the understanding to guide their clothing choices.
This touchscreen program is coded by a friend of Ms Chiang Loo Fern for CYC. She said, ‘those who usually buy ready-to-wear clothes often dare not enter the tailoring store. Through the touchscreen’s interactivity, it allows customers who have never tailored made-to-measure shirts to explore their creativity, to see how a piece of fabric, through the imagination of the customers and the handicraft of the tailor, to conjure up different styles. We hope that the interactive touchscreen can serve as an interesting ‘shopkeeper’, easing new customers into tailoring, attracting those who have never entered a tailoring shop before to have a look and tailor their very first made-to-measure shirt on-screen.
Dressed From Head to Toe
For the very first time, CYC is offering shoes in its new outlet. Ms. Chiang Loo Fern said, ‘a lot of our customers want advice on the type of shoes to match with their tailored shirt and tailored trousers. Since there is a demand, we are more than happy to provide them with a dressing service from head to toe.’
CYC has teamed up with Hong Kong-based workshop, Shoe Artistry. This workshop, too has a legacy of its own. Formerly known as Ming Kee Shoes, it was started in the 70s. Jeff (40), an industrial designer who frequented the workshop since his youth, was informed that his uncle, Ming Shu, was closing the business’ shutters. Along with his partner Kit, he persuaded Ming to sell the business to them instead.
Infusing new concepts such as 3D foot scanning, and retaining the tradition of Made-in-Hong Kong craftsmanship, the couple revitalised the shoe brand within 3 years. Even famed food columnist, Chua Lam, is a client of theirs. The Made-to-Order shoes starts from S$350, with bespoke options starting from S$700.
Kit, Jeff’s Singaporean partner, said, ‘we hope that through innovative methods, we make handmade leather shoes accessible to all’. This ethos is similar to CYC, where a made-to-measure shirt starts from S$100, and not as expensive as oft-thought. CYC channels its made-to-measure vision down to the shoes, purchasing the 3D shoe scanner from Shoe Artistry. CYC’s staff are trained to use the machine, where the feet measurements are then sent to Hong Kong, where the shoes are crafted by Shoe Artistry’s artisans, located in workshops around the island.
CYC has also injected elements of ‘education and fun’ in its new shop design. In recent years, CYC started offering ready-to-wear shirts for children. The center of the store features a kid’s zone, a magnetic wall for children to mix and match magnets of shirts and trousers, nurturing their fashion sense. Also, the three fitting rooms in the shop features different motifs on their walls. One features the origins of cashmere, cotton and other fabrics, while the other fitting rooms elaborate on CYC’s 84 years of history, since its beginning. The brand itself is an abbreviation of its founder, Mr. Chiang Yick Ching. Since then, PM Lee Hsien Loong, the late Mr. Lee Kwan Yew and other ministers have become their loyal customers.
Two Generation of Ladies Successors
Although CYC is known for its menswear tailoring, interestingly enough, the next in-line are both women. Current Managing Director, Ms. Chiang Loo Fern, is the third-generation successor in her sixties, yet is still full of vim and vigor. She has been helping out on CYC’s shop floor since she was 12. 27 years ago, her uncle, the former managing director, passed away suddenly. Her father was in ill health, and as the elder daughter, she abruptly left her position with the American embassy as Business Analyst. She took over the family business since then.
Three years ago, her niece, Cara Chiang (26) joined her in the business, taking up the mantle of Product Development and Marketing Manager, working closely with her. Cara’s presence injected a millennial’s perspective and sensibility. For instance, being more active on social media channels, to bridge the gap between the brand and its younger clientele. At the same time, based on the modern consumers’ preference, she is working on a series of new products. This year, she introduced a range of wrinkle-free, unlined jackets that are cooling and come in 3 colors, ideal for the tropical climate. She revealed that the new line, titled ‘1935’, will introduce easy-care apparel that will appeal to fuss-free and pragmatic gentlemen, suitable for the local climate and for everyday wear.
Cara said cheerily, “when I was 19, I wrote in my journal that I wanted to ‘create for a living’. I studied at The University of Melbourne, double majoring in Cultural Studies and Creative Writing. When I returned from abroad, I joined CYC. I am now finding my creative compass here, and I intend to channel my creativity into the family business.”
In the past two years, Cara has developed unique fabrics for CYC, with Singapore Stories as a theme. In 2018, she commissioned artists to employ motifs of HDB corridors, iconic Kopitiam chairs and stray cats to develop the first CYC in-house fabric. This year, two aspects of Singapore are presented via ‘Concrete Jungle’ and ‘Mangrove Forest’ – the former featuring landmarks such as Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, and the Port of Singapore, while the latter features indigenous animals such as otters and crocodiles that portray the natural habitat.
Cara says, ‘Our Singaporean Millennials seek cultural significance in our young country. I am fortunate enough to join a company with a Singaporean heritage and history. My mission is to tell stories of Singapore’s heritage, through innovation and creativity.