Last week, the team pitched in to get me a tailor-made shirt for my birthday. Skip and Darrell took me to Dave the tailor for my measurements, and since Dave is such persuasive salesman, I also signed up for four pairs of trousers. I don’t know Dave’s last name – his business card just says “Dave” – but for his shop, I love how he simply coopted a couple of designer names and called it “Christian Armani Ladies & Gents Tailors”.
|the thumbs-up from Dave||Jon-Jon and Jeff getting “the treatment”|
Dave’s shop is located in a glorified hawker center called the “Far East Plaza”, located at the far end of Orchard Street – Singapore’s main drag for shopping gluttons…
The Far East Plaza is a loud and crowded maze of mostly small electronics shops, watch shops, jewelers, leather goods shops, and more watch shops. A good 25% of the shopping in Singapore seems to revolve around wristwatches.
Christian Armani Ladies & Gents Tailors occupies a corner stall not far from the mall’s entrance. Dave beamed when he saw Darrell and Skip approaching and greeted them with vigorous handshakes. The two of them – big guys both (compared to me anyway) – had signed up for several suits, blazers, pants and shirts, amounting to thousands of dollars and yards and yards of fine fabric, so Dave clearly knew where his bread was buttered. I’m sure he also noticed a third person (and potential customer) tagging along behind them in the form of me.
Dave offered the three of us something to drink, and the big guys opted for Diet Coke (or “Coke Light” as it seems to be called in the rest of the world). I opted for nothing because my insides suddenly started sort of cramping up. We’ve had some digestive ailments on the team, and it was starting to feel like I was going to be the next victim.
While two of Dave’s minions attended to Darrell and Skip, Dave himself began to show me fabric candidates for what would become my new shirt. In short order I chose a plain, dark chocolate brown Egyptian cotton. Next Dave began to take my measurements, while I selected a buttonhole style (plain), collar style (semi-spread, no buttons), vent style (two, at the shoulder blades), waist cut (shallow oxford) and pocket preference (one, left breast).
Between questions about my shirt preferences, he pestered me about needing a suit, blazer, pants. In actuality, I had already intended to order work trousers, but I decided to play it cool. “Well, I suppose I’ll look at a few fabrics.” I let him show me a dozen or so, and I settled on four very fine summerweight cashmere blends.
Darrell and Skip had told me not to accept Dave’s first price, but to bargain, and I was beginning to feel a tiny bit of adrenaline pumping as the conversation approached. Dave whipped out a small calculator and presented me with a figure of S$850 (about $515 US). I worked on him a little bit, but I’m horrible at negotiating, so in the end we settled on S$720 (about $430), which is still a bargain for tailored pants of the finest fabric.
That done, I felt like I’d joined a sort of club, and I half expected Darrell and Skip to take me to an exclusive, colonial-style dark wood and green leather upholstered bar for cognac and cigars.
In another successful execution of Dave’s viral marketing strategy, I brought Jeff and Jon-Jon with me for my fitting several days later. We went through the “Coke Light” presentation ritual, and the three of us started perusing fabrics. Jeff and Jon-Jon both wanted to see striped fabrics of the sort Banana Rebublic, Guess and the like have been selling lately. Dave’s fabric catalog heavily favors solids and long-living, classic patterns, and neither Jeff nor Jon-Jon saw anything they could imagine working for the kinds of casual shirts they had in mind.
Meanwhile, I wandered off to the changing room to try on my shirt and trousers. Once I was changed, one of Dave’s minions attended to me, while Dave himself attacked Jeff and Jon-Jon with his silver-tongued sales pitch. My shirt needed to be taken in a bit, and the trousers let out a bit, which suggests I’m sort of bowling pin shaped. I don’t want to think about that too much.
Quick and painless for me, something new for Jeff and Jon-Jon, but a fruitless effort for Dave. He would have no new customers from the SAA team this night.
Mission accomplished, we headed off to join the team at the famous Long Bar for our first true Singapore Slings:
1 oz Gin
1/2 oz Cherry brandy
4 oz Pineapple juice
1/2 oz Lime juice
1/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/3 oz Grenadine
1 dash Angostura bitters
Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker, fill with ice and shake until the shaker is well frosted. Strain into a tall glass and garnish with a slice of pineapple and cherry.