Gent of the Month
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
"Wearing is believing."
On most nights, it'd be rare to find Charles Yap anywhere other than at a table furnished with fascinating people and equally fascinating conversation, enjoying an after-dinner drink - single malt whiskey, more often than not.
The Bangkok-based Singaporean is known well for his unique take on classic men's style in addition to his penchant for fine dining, hospitality, and of course, Italian tailoring. He's also our very first gent of the month.
1. Tell us about when you first got into classic menswear.
I’ve always been into suits and ties, but really only discovered classic menswear just over two years ago. Before then, it was really more about quantity over quality, fit over drape. I’m in a much better place now.
At the beginning, my first sartorial purchases were a little hard to stomach, with significantly higher prices compared to the mass-produced garments and 72-hour tailoring I’d grown so used to. But wearing is believing… and when you enjoy the feel of true comfort from well-crafted clothes and are able to understand and appreciate the details behind the painstaking hours of skill involved, coming to terms with buying less but buying the best gets easy. You quickly realise that every dollar spent is an investment towards your personal branding, and while my upfront investments might seem high, I know I will be spending less in the long run, and I am making my decisions with a long-term view.
2. How would you describe your personal style?
Soft Neapolitan and Florentine tailoring for the hot Bangkok climate, accentuated by fun pops of colour that reference the lucky colours of the Thai calendar. My Thai colleagues, friends and business associates seem to appreciate it. On weekends, it's usually a combination of military vintage and thrift.
Making the sartorial switch in my mid-40s meant I had higher investing power. My very first purchases were rather big ticket, consisting of Ready-to-Wear (RTW) jackets from Liverano & Liverano and Orazio Luciano, and shoes from Saint Crispins. It also meant I had to give away all my old clothes to make way for the new and more permanent me.
Over time, I’ve slowly expanded my mix to a level where I’m able to compose many different looks from a rather compact wardrobe. Today, I’m using about 40% less storage space for clothes and shoes than I needed two years ago. I feel I am doing something right every time I’m asked if I’m wearing something new, even though that piece in question has been in rotation for the past year or so.
3. What do your clothes do for you?
A few months after my sartorial transformation, I received my promotion at work. Coincidence, no doubt, but I think it’s important to maintain a certain level of personal branding. During these uncertain times, I find it even more important to dress up, show up and drive value into whatever you're doing. When your turnout is good, it's likely that your work output is of a higher quality as well. It also helps if your clothes are comfortable and make you feel good.
4. What is the favourite go-to piece in your wardrobe?
My very first sartorial purchase is still my favourite. It’s an RTW Liverano & Liverano A4 navy jacket (shown above), and it's so versatile. My experience with this piece was ultimately what inspired me to go with my first bespoke commission with Liverano, now in its final stages of completion.
5. Is there anything you would have done differently along your journey into classic men's style?
I think I commissioned too much a little too quickly. On hindsight, I should have slowed down a little (which I have now). I haven’t had any regrets so far and all my significant purchases are still in regular rotation.
6. Anything else you'd like to share with our community?
I’m thankful for lots of encouraging feedback on social media, and frequently receive style related questions too from the growing global community of menswear enthusiasts.
One thing always leads to another. I won’t stay purely as a consumer for much longer, as I’m in collaboration with the team at The Decorum Bangkok to bring their successful shop to Singapore, my hometown.
The Decorum was where I got inspired to make the switch, where I started as a lurker, gradually became a customer, became close friends, and now we are business partners working on introducing what we love to a new market.