It’s often said that a man is in charge of his own destiny, but that hardly means he has to go it alone. When it comes to career, marriage and home ownership, most men would seek the counsel of expert associates. Notwithstanding a disparity in stakes, the process of having a garment made should be no different. Ideally, gentlemen should be comfortable relying on the instincts of their tailor. The idea isn’t to dictate the overall (highly technical) minutiae, but rather, articulate practical considerations (e.g. comfort, formality, occasion) so both fitter and cutter can help you get the most pleasurable wearing experience, as filtered through their stylistic lens. It’s something that Buzz Tang — co-founder of bespoke clothier The Anthology — is adamant about.
Recently, we stopped by the young London College of Fashion-trained designer’s showroom to learn more about his newest project: a bespoke men’s clothing brand specialising in Hong Kong-made suiting that espouses a cosmopolitan worldview.
All images courtesy of Caitlin Kerrigan
Some people might see it as starting early, but if I were to divulge the amount of time that’s gone into preparing [The Anthology], it mightn’t seem premature after all. In any event, the business is very much a passion project: I’ve been hooked on tailored clothing since my father (through his own tailor) helped to commission my first suit. It was love at first sight.
No, not at all. The connection was purely personal — the result of my love for classic menswear. There was even a particular incident during my first year of college in London: I was searching for a few bolts of interesting cloth (to take back to my tailor in Hong Kong) when, by some twist of fate, I met a merchant on Savile Row who took me on.
I view the establishment of the business here as a kind of cultural bridging process. I wouldn’t necessarily say that our sole focus is the promotion of Chinese craftsmanship for its own sake, but when it comes to the quality of our product there’s no denying excellence. In coming to that conclusion, I relied on my (and my business partner Andy’s) sense of judgment.
It’s also a matter of “right time right place”: since my 18th birthday, Andy and I have known there’d be an opportunity to start a concept shop in Hong Kong. It’s an international metropolis where people continue to dress very sophisticatedly; and is (in many ways) the nexus of various tailoring communities throughout Asia.
To me at least, originality is one of our utmost strengths. Hong Kong tailors, generally speaking, have a tendency towards reproduction: neither purveying a particular style nor giving much in the way of guidance and advice. Getting the correct fit is always our greatest priority but in the grand scheme of things having a unique perspective on style is monumentally important. It’s such a shame that Hong Kong has never developed its own platonic ideal for suiting, when even countries like Japan have a distinctive blueprint for what a quintessentially “Japanese” suit should look like.
Although we were presented with multiple opportunities, it’s always been more about the particular individual than the location. Whilst Andy and I were working to bring The Anthology to life, we met Willy — our current shop manager in Taiwan. He told us about SuitWalk — a local equivalent to Florence’s biannual Pitti Uomo tradeshow — and that gave us an approximation of Taiwan’s growing enthusiasm for classic menswear. We found that we shared a similar vision and saw potential in opening there. It was also a good opportunity to introduce our particular expression of classic menswear to the region.
Jackets from The Anthology feature a full canvas construction, handmade buttonholes and pad-stitched lapels. Admittedly, tailors in Hong Kong with sufficient technical skill can replicate all of these details but what they can’t is our eye for creative design. Execution and the way we manage the business also set our products apart: we have a very particular view of how a suit should fit; and we convey that at length during our fittings. (A minimum of three fittings, with no upward limit, are required when commissioning.) We follow a strict house style — one that emphasises the softer aspects of tailoring — and advise our clients accordingly. Despite a surfeit of remote tailoring businesses, I firmly believe that the medium requires human interaction; and we strive to provide just that (plus a bit of good old fashioned hospitality) as opposed to simply being a retail service.
Hong Kong is undeniably costly, but that carries a lot of perks with it. It’s arguably still one of the best dressed cities in Asia (in the context of classic men’s clothing) and people here are incredibly sophisticated and discerning when it comes to dressing. We’re not too concerned because we have a strong clientele, which we believe is a testimony to the consumer’s ability to sift out the gems.
Our house style features a couple of common motifs: an extended shoulder; lowered gorge; and finely attuned collar/lapel proportion that we tweaked for almost a year. We keep the interiors of our jackets soft but they also come with marginally roped shoulders. The latter detail allows wearers to retain a hint of formality, in deference to the needs of certain professions that abound here in Hong Kong.
In consideration of Asia’s hot and humid weather, and the decreasing formality of the modern workplace, we settled on a house style adapted for these conditions: something that is softer, lighter and in essence comfortable. We’ve taken all the unnecessary heft and edginess out of suiting. We seldom think of ourselves as purely Italian in style, though we openly admit that we look to that region for inspiration. We’re particularly inclined towards the Florentine way of doing things; and our soft construction and lightly padded shoulders are all characteristic of tailoring that originates there. Fashion is about referencing things in the right way: as such, we’re happy to acknowledge our sources of inspiration and the role they’ve played in helping us create our own house style.
Suits and ties go hand in hand, hence we saw the need for a tiemaker. I like working in a team and have always enjoyed collaboration. After all, if one doesn’t specialise in a particular field, why not ask for help from someone who is an expert? In my search for the best possible tiemaker, I raked through my own neckwear closet and I found myself coming back time and again to Vanda.
Regarding collaborations with other artisans, we’re constantly on the lookout for something unique — that’s a pivotal quality when we contemplate partnership. Men’s boutiques carrying a selection of brands are, in my opinion, overrated and widely available around the world. I always remind myself that The Anthology cannot be a copy of those sorts of stores, because it’s not an authentic representation of who we are. We’re primarily a concept shop — a place that tells our own story through a nuanced take and very careful curation.
Fittings at The Anthology are available by appointment only. Prices range (approximately) between HK$8,500 to $11,000 based on fabric availability.
The Anthology, 7/F, 8 On Wo Lane, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2799 3078