Ensuring The Legacy Lives On

by Portfolio Magazine
11 Jan 2019

In this special feature, we discover why The Prestigious Bespoke Tailors believes nurturing external talent for future management and ownership is what is needed to meet the changing demands of the bespoke menswear business

We first discovered how perfecting the art of craftsmanship is of paramount importance to The Prestigious. Under the guidance of Mr. Thomas Wong, Master Tailor, Technical Director, and Mentor, Ms. Joyan Chan was identified as a promising tailor who understood the rigorous and exacting demands of the bespoke menswear trade.

While having the eye for style is important, leadership skills are prized even more so at The Prestigious, ensuring the House’s high standards and reputation aren’t compromised, all while steering it towards the future. What is also interesting is the succession plan Mr. Wong has put in place.

While most assumed that Singapore’s top tailor would have kept control of the business or have family members take over, he instead decided to “give away” what was built over six decades. Mr. Wong reveals, “Today, many philanthropists give away the bulk of their wealth at a certain point. For me, what I can do is give away the legacy of my hard work to the next generation who are capable of propelling the craft forward.”  

Over the years, Mr. Wong has had the benefit of receiving advice from loyal patrons, most of whom are highly successful business owners and chief executives, in drawing up a business continuity and legacy plan. Through these indispensable lessons, The Prestigious is now guided by principles of sound business fundamentals, such as nurturing talent and harnessing heritage. 

When it comes to earmarking the House’s future leaders, Mr. Wong reveals that he first looks at attitude instead of technical skill. “I prioritize an earnest spirit that does honest craft. There are many ways to maximize profit by shortchanging patrons, but I want my leaders to align profit ambitions with ethical dealings. Possess an extraordinary hunger for self-improvement, all while committed to doing good craft. Nurture this first principle and everything that flows from it will serve the House and our patrons well.”

With the decision of opening up potential ownership and management to others, it stirred the desire and willingness amongst the members of The Prestigious team. By setting this in place, Mr. Wong was able to identify Ms. Chan as a candidate for the role of Partner at The Prestigious.

“What sets Ms. Chan apart is the journey she has taken and how it impacted her growth and relations with those under her charge in the future. She has gone through the rigor of pure technical training during her school days and as a junior staffer, all while experiencing the joys, anguish, and challenges of working in a boutique atelier. She has the experience and perception of what team members feel working in a small enterprise that faces regular constraints. She has grown from focusing on self-improvement to taking on colleagues under her wing to guide and nurture them.”

Speaking about her new role, Ms. Chan shares, “Now, I have to prioritize organizational considerations first. It’s no longer about ‘How can I deliver one beautiful suit?’, but rather, ‘How can I help the entire team to craft out every suit to be of an exacting standard?’ Also, ‘How can I groom my juniors for leadership so that we may jointly propel the House forward?’ ” She concludes, “I am mindful that The Prestigious today is the accumulation of a lifetime of hard work and it rests on my shoulders to grow it to greater heights. Perhaps, one day, I may helm the House, but for now, I am one of many and I am fortunate to be groomed for greater responsibilities in time to come.”

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