When it comes to the discerning buyer, purchasing clothes off-the-rack is always a bit of a headache.
There's always something that can be improved upon, be it a hem that's not quite right, or a niggling fit issue around the waist. That's why many women choose to get their clothes altered so they fit to a T.
We've listed a few of our favourite tailors who, armed with scissors, needle and thread, can make your garments look as though they were made for you.
1. V.BJORN @ FAR EAST PLAZA
Nestled just around the corner of the fourth floor of Far East Plaza lies V.bjorn.
Helmed by Vanessa, V.bjorn has been the go-to place for alterations within the mall itself, with many of the tenants bringing their customers directly to Vanessa after they would like to tailor their new purchases. In fact, that’s how we came to know about her existence.
One tailor that Fashion Editor Cheryl Chan swears by is V.bjorn at Far East Plaza. “I’ve been going to Vanessa at V.bjorn for the past eight years. As someone who’s on the shorter side and in-between sizes, I have no choice but to get my clothes taken in if I want them to fit properly. At times I have to get the waist of my jeans taken in which can be tricky (and not to mention expensive), but Vanessa never fails to charge me more than $20 for something like that. She’s also great at understanding my instructions when I want to change up the design of some of my items. Once I even had a skirt with leather paillettes that needed to be taken in at the waist. She and her team unpicked the paillettes one by one, sewed a dart and then re-sewed the paillettes back. The total cost? $10.”
V.bjorn, #04-97A Far East Plaza (14 Scotts Road), Singapore 228213, Opens 2pm – 9pm (closed on Mondays), Tel: 6235 9960
2. GEE'S CREATION @ LUCKY PLAZA
Situated in the heart of Orchard Road, Gee’s Creation is a place to visit if you’re in need of alterations right after you’ve hit the shops. Tailors here are renowned for being meticulous when it comes to measurements, so this one is for those who are splashing out on luxury brands and designer pieces.
The owner of the 40-year-old tailoring business, who only wanted to be known as Gee Gee, told us that there’s nothing she and her team can’t alter. “We are experts in tailoring, going beyond simple jobs like shortening hems. If something doesn’t fit right, we are able to overhaul an entire piece until it fits the client perfectly,” she says. “We once had a customer who had lost 20kg and brought in his old jeans to get them altered to his current size.” She adds that “many boutiques around Orchard Road know of our services and send customers over to get their clothes altered”.
Gee’s Creation, #03-53 Lucky Plaza (304 Orchard Road), Singapore 238863, Opens 9.30am – 6.30pm (Closed on Sundays), Tel: 6738 8443
3. MENG YEE EXPRESS ALTERATION @ FAR EAST PLAZA
Another tailoring service that’s located in the shopping district is Meng Yee Express Alteration, where you’ll find experienced seamstresses armed with conscientious sewing skills. The good people here charge around S$8 for a simple shortening job.
The current lady boss running Ming Yee Express Alteration, Chen Yan Ying, took over last year from former owner Chen Yuan Ming. Ms Chen, who’s worked for 10 years at Ming Yee, studied fashion design and tailoring in China, and told us that the shop sees plenty of requests that involve detailed work for evening and wedding gowns. “These are the types of jobs that I find most satisfying,” she said, adding that she relishes challenging alterations. “Sometimes, a client’s request actually affects the structure of the garment. For example, we had a customer who wanted to overhaul a dress entirely, changing its former flare shape to a mermaid silhouette that we thought would restrict her movements. She insisted, and we obliged. In the end, her happiness mattered most and she was pleased with the outcome.”
Meng Yee Express Alteration, #04-104 Far East Plaza (14 Scotts Road), Singapore 228213, Opens 10am – 8.30pm from Mondays to Saturdays, 12pm – 6pm on Sundays, Tel: 6738 1764
4. HAUTE ALTERATION INITIATIVE @ MANDARIN GALLERY
If you’re in need of tailors with lots of experience with couture pieces, Haute Alteration Initiative is the place to go.
Prices start from S$20 for a basic shortening job, and yes, they may be pricey, but these are the go-to people for garments with tricky embellishment details, or delicate materials like organza. T
he best part? As the retail face for social enterprise, A-Changin’ Ltd, the company includes people with disabilities and single mothers as part of their staff.
Josephine Ng, the head of Haute Alteration Initiative, says that the social enterprise component of Haute Alteration is an important one to her community. “We help single mothers, out-of-work women and older women who are already seamstresses, and what we do is to train them and upgrade their skills to equip them with finer sewing abilities so that they are able to do difficult alterations,” she says. She cites wedding gowns from Jenny Packham, Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta as successful projects taken on by her staff. “We have specialists in different fields — for example, for jacket alterations, we have someone who works on nothing but those,” she adds.
Haute Alteration Initiative, #03-30 Mandarin Gallery (333A Orchard Road), Singapore 238897, Opens 11am – 8pm from Mondays to Saturdays, 11am – 6pm on Sundays, Tel: 8228 0020, www.alteration.com.sg
5. JEANSFIX @ CITY LINK MALL
Not all jeans fit your body perfectly but denim connoisseur, Jeansfix, will come to the rescue. Whether be amending a waistband or fixing rips that have happened over time, they’re the experts in this area.
They’ve even developed an in-house technique called ThreadMatching, which guarantees a repair that will last a long time, and which has them comparing threads to your original denim so they can use colours and needlework patterns that are as close to the original as possible.
The founder of Jeansfix, Yong Tyng Yee, explains how she was frustrated with seeing badly-patched jeans. “I sat down with my tailoring team to start working out a way to restore jeans that would give due respect to each pair of jeans and its owner,” she says. “Adopting a ‘do it right, do it well’ attitude and after much trial and error, we managed to develop our own in-house method. We painstakingly match the colour tone of the jeans with the threads we use to restore the rips so that they’re virtually unnoticeable.”
Jeansfix, #B1-06 City Link Mall (1 Raffles Link), Singapore 039393, Opens 9am – 7pm on Weekdays, 10am – 6pm on Weekends, Tel: 6534 4843, jeansfix.com
6. CLANCY BOUTIQUE ALTERATION CENTRE @ FAR EAST PLAZA
Fashion insiders that include the likes of stylists and fashionistas on shopping trips from overseas have gone to Clancy Boutique Alteration Centre for almost 22 years. From suits, to dresses and even to wedding gowns, alterations are done expertly and, for those in need, they can be done very quickly as well.
We sat down with co-owner Cindy Ler to ask about some of the craziest garments her clients have sent in. “From scaling down the body length of scuba suits to adjusting knee pads of motorcycle race suits, we have seen and done it all,” she says.
Clancy Boutique Alteration Centre, #04-89 Far East Plaza (14 Scotts Road), Singapore 228213, Opens 10am – 8.30pm from Mondays to Saturdays, 11am – 7pm on Sundays, Tel: 6738 6971, www.clancyboutique.com.sg
7. MAY TAILOR & LAUNDRY @ LUCKY PLAZA
With 6 different branches across the nation — including at premier locations like Marina Bay Sands and ION Orchard — May Tailor has garnered a large pool of regular customers who love the intricate, precise work put into measurements and alterations.
“I was a tailor at Hugo Boss before I opened May Tailor & Laundry,” says founder Bai Hong Mei. “I was born into a family of tailors and one night, I had a dream where my ancestors reprimanded me for leaving the family fold. When I woke up, I realized that they were telling me to open a tailoring business of my own and carry on the family legacy.”
Adding to its appeal, this is a one-stop-shop, even providing dry cleaning and laundry services.
May Tailor & Laundry, #04-56 Lucky Plaza (304 Orchard Road), Singapore 238863, Opens 10am – 8pm daily, Tel: 6235 3137. For more locations, visit maytailor.com.sg
8. ALTERATION OF UNISEX CLOTHING @ BUKIT BATOK
Alteration of Unisex Clothing is the place to go for those who live in the west of the island. Don’t let its humble storefront fool you — west-siders who don’t want to make the trek to town head here when it comes to the alteration for everything from shirts, to pants and skirts.
It’s run by Tan Kha Choo, who’s turning 62 this year. She discovered her interest for sewing during Primary 1 after attending sewing classes in school and has now been in the alteration industry for over 40 years.
“Communication is very important to me,” says Mdm Tan, when asked how she’s built her client pool. She’s a careful listener, and works on all clothing, from children’s to men’s and women’s garments. Her price points are rather decent too, and prices start at $6 for a zip replacement.
Alteration of Unisex Clothing, 375 Bukit Batok Street 31, #01-144, Singapore 650375, Opens 8.30am – 6.30pm (Mon to Sat), Closes on Sun, Tel: 9037 1195.
This article was first published in Cleo Singapore.