When inspiration takes hold of Hazwan Suhaini, the rising tailor would put pen to paper, and sketch. He sketches and sketches; then logs them in his design book, lest the designs escape his thoughts.
Just a year ago, Hazwan was just a budding environmentalist fresh off of graduating from the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) without a stitch of experience in design or tailoring.
Six months and a Fashion Design and Technology course later, the 25-year-old not only has 206 designs on hand, but he also launched his own brand in October – Gentleman Stitch – which specializes in made-to-measure gentlemen’s wear and ready-to-wear clothing.
For Hazwan, 2019 was the year to realize his dreams; the year to transform mere ideas on paper to a set of clothing that hangs decadently on the body. It was the year that he challenged himself to craft one design per day.
“I was always fascinated by the craftsmanship and care that was done in creating a single-breasted suit,” he said during the official launch of Gentleman Stitch which was held at the Mahen Hive in the capital.
Driven by a lack of fashion options for men; the act of tailoring bespoke men’s wear morphed from a passing interest into a life’s passion for Hazwan, seeking to instill confidence and conviction within clients through the art of clothing.
With 13 collections available for purchase, his dapper and intricate designs can be seen fitted on mannequins and hanging elegantly on rails around the Seni Moda showroom at the Little Soho building in Batu Besurat.
Heavily influenced by prominent tailors; Gaetano Alosio, Richard Anderson and Huntsman, Hazwan pays particular attention to the fit, fabric and the richness of colour in his designs, melding bespoke styles with modern aesthetics that will empower any man.
Being both the designer and tailor, Gentleman Stitch offers exclusively custom made fashion for men, with a ready-to-wear line that consists of double-breasted waistcoats and dress shirts that is imbued with Hazwan’s signature sense of style; a combo of patterned greyscale and subtle plaid.
“Fashion for me represents a strong statement. It is an expression of myself,” he explained.
Despite the windfall, Hazwan recounted the hurdles he had to face to reach this point in his life, especially for someone with no background in fashion or design, noting the steep learning curve of tailoring bespoke men’s wear.
Between the notched lapels and the precise tailoring, the process of tailoring a suit is quite challenging, admitted Hazwan, but nevertheless the subject matter is one that sparks life into the designer, even with its complex intricacies.
“I used to be the slowest in my design class,” he said, chuckling as he recounted memories of his time in the Fashion Design Technology course at the Youth Development Centre in Kg Tanah Jambu.
“I tend to unpick the stitches a lot for even the slightest mistake… For my first time in class, I couldn’t even fully adjust my foot to control the sewing speed so I missed the mark a few times”.
Now Hazwan is more adept, capable of experimenting with various fabrics, colours and patterns whenever he is at his home studio in Kg Rimba.
From hand-sewing muslin to interfacing fabric for structure and shape, Hazwan supplements his knowledge and skills through trials and errors as well as watching tutorials from YouTube.
“It all comes down to patience and practice, just like any new challenge or mastering any new skill,” he went on to say, adding that he plans to sharpen his knowledge in fashion – especially in bespoke menswear – by taking classes overseas.
Aspiring to establish himself in the local fashion scene, Hazwan looks forward to the challenges that come ahead, with a desire to grow Gentleman Stitch as brand both locally and internationally.
“Men’s fashion are just as important as women’s fashion because it can create a story, build confidence on top of showing who you are, what your personal brand is and develop yourself,” he added.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN