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HK Tailors: A-Man Hing Cheong and WW Chan

whoopee

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This past week I've received suits from two Hong Kong tailors: WW Chan and A-Man Hing Cheong. Chan have made many things for me, while this was my first suit from A-Man. Having some unexpected free time lately, I've decided to do a write-up regarding the two, since we get many questions on HK tailors in general and A-Man have relatively little coverage on the web. (Actually it would not be a bad idea to start an HK tailor thread. Other members could share their experiences with these or other tailors.) My intent isn't to compare the two and declare a winner and loser; it'd be unfair to A-Man because of my extended experience with Chan. The two are quite different in what they offer, both in tailoring and atmosphere. Still, I know people will want comparisons. Chan's and Patrick's, the cutter in HK, product are fairly well-known in these parts. My post will center around A-Man. A-Man are temporarily on the first floor of Prince's Building in Central while awaiting the new Mandarin Oriental to be completed. They expect to move back in August 2006. Their old and current premises are what one would probably imagine a tailors' showroom to be: slightly dark, woody, in a fine location, suited staff, clubby (the owner was lounging around at times and open for a chat). Chan's are by contrast, smaller and less fancy. Prices for A-Man's bolts are about the same as basic VBC for Chan, or maybe a tick higher. A-Man carry mostly English fabrics (some Edwin Woodhouse and Charles Claytons mixed in with no-names) whereas Chan's stock is more Italian, though of course they have swatch books from English merchants. This gives a general idea of how the two houses operate. Walk-ins seem common at A-Man, logical given their location. It's better to make an appointment at Chan, though they certainly will receive a drop-in customer with the same courtesy and service. The former have a larger staff. So I dropped in to the Prince's Building shop, discussed what I wanted with the salesperson, and was promptly measured by the cutter, a bespectacled chap in his fifties. I had three full fittings over the next five days, and then picked up my suit on the fifth visit to the shop. Each time I was attended to by the same cutter/fitter and at least a couple of the staff hovered. Reassuring in the light of their temp shop lacking multiple mirrors for the client to view the clothes at different angles. This was a bit frustrating but it turns out there are no issues with the back of my coat. I believe their new and proper shop will not have this problem. I chose a ~9 oz plain weave no-name English cloth from their house collection. The threads are a mix of charcoal and light grey for an overall dark grey effect. I asked for a conservative but reasonably shaped suit. 1 button, high notch lapel, side vented, straight pockets, 3/4 lined, slim flat fronts. The only thing daring about it was the button choice. The salesman replied to my specifications, "ah, Huntsman". I believe they buck the stereotype of HK tailors lacking a house style. It's akin to a middle of the road Savile Row cut - slightly soft, slightly structured, straight shoulders, medium lapels, clean, some shape. It's close to what I have from Kilgour, without the pronounced pagoda shoulders and slightly swelled chest, and a couple other tailors working in that vein. In fact, the reason I decided to try them was the visual evidence of someone I know who has a couple Huntsmans and Pooles from his time in London and now uses A-Man. The HK suits look as nice on him as his SR ones, though of course lacking the workmanship. His are more stylish than mine turned out to be, but I don't think it's shabby at all. The staff have seen a lot of the London product on their expat customers over the years (established in 1898) and know it well. Overall silhouette:
amansilhouette.jpg
Front:
amanfront.jpg
Back:
amanback.jpg
Seated:
amanseated.jpg
Side Buckles:
amanbuckles.jpg
Inside:
amaninside.jpg
I've post-processed these quickly and so they're not very consistent. But the details and silhouette should be pretty clear from them. I have a distaste for solid satin ties thus must note that despite appearances the tie is an ottoman twill. I'm satisfied with the jacket for a first effort. The only real issue with fit is the armholes, which could stand to be a little higher. I don't think I mentioned it for some reason. The sleeves are a bit off and will be rotated. Style-wise, I normally would want the breast pocket a touch higher, the front quarters more curved and open, the fit a touch closer, and the notch lapels 1/4" narrower. But I did ask for a conservative cut this time - for serious, black shoe occasions - and didn't specify. As it stands, the coat certainly doesn't look bad as it is. In fact, I'm very happy with how it's turned out because at the first fitting it was quite worrisome. The cutter/fitter has a lot of time in the business under his belt and he is meticulous, with better taste than one might expect. He got the sleeve length right without my input, for example. The trousers are a bit more problematic, as can be seen in that admittedly piss-poor, backlit photo. Part of it is due to the shape of my legs, but the balance is still off. They also do not define my rear and legs as nicely as the ones Patrick makes for me. Disappointing compared to the jacket. They look better in person though and are comfortable. Like with another tailor I've used, the trousers did not receive the same attention as the coat. I'm pretty sure on how to avoid the problems in the future. The workmanship is fine. Overall on par with Chan. They use better side buckles, less apt to loosen and less conspicuous than Chan's, which frankly are the details that bother me most (picture below). Both trousers are completely machine made. Chest, shoulder, lapels about the same. The differences I find are due to the cloth. The importance of using good fabric cannot be stressed enough. Chan use horn buttons even on the inside buttons of my waistband, whereas A-Man use plastic ones throughout. I had no idea before picking up the suit (I had forgotten to choose buttons) and did not feel like asking them for replacements on the spot. They undoubtedly would. Chan's handmade buttonholes are nicer. A minor annoyance are that the A-Man hangers are no better than regular shirt hangers. But as said, a draw. Here's some pictures of my latest Chan suit. 1 button, notch lapel, open patch pockets, welt breast pocket, 3/4 lining, unlined flat fronts. Two quick fittings, since my pattern and preferences are down. Front:
chanfront.jpg
Back:
chanback.jpg
Seated:
chanseated.jpg
Side buckles:
chanbuckles.jpg
Inside:
chaninside.jpg
The cloth is a 9.5 oz. navy fresco from the H&S Crispaire book. I still agonise over whether I should have chosen the bright navy mohair/wool instead. It’s very nice cloth though. A fine upgrade from my old warm weather blazer, with trousers to make it a suit when necessary, and this summer it often will be. The buttons will likely be changed to MOP buttons later this year. It looks better in person. The two suits are also more different than they seem in these pictures. The better fabric is obvious. Patrick and I have worked to create a more distinct silhouette, which can be better seen in the DB photo I posted. I couldn’t get a shot of this one. Chris Despos called it high continental, the first I've heard of it. Everything is higher and more fitted than what I think an English-style tailor would do. It has just a bit of shoulder wadding and roping but is quite soft. Very comfortable to wear (just logged a full day, a flight, and at least a couple kilometers on foot in this suit). Hangs off my shoulders nicely. I like it a lot. Patrick has accommodated me in a way A-Man would be less used to, I believe. The staff of both houses are exceedingly polite, but the suited men in the wood-decked room seem a little more defined in what they want to do. I overheard a (new, I think) client enquiring about a 1 button, peak lapel blazer. He probably wanted hacking pockets, too. His salesperson chuckled. Maybe he was saved from himself. I know from personal experience that trying to be one's own stylist and tailor can be a costly disaster. Patrick didn't peep when I ordered a three-piece suit using a list of specific measurements and adjustments to be followed to the 1/4". It fits like a whole-body corset. I actually have no idea where it is. Too unwearable and unsalvageable for me to care. In the long run, I like that. I would have been a bit peeved if not allowed to fail. But that's me. Like I said, A-Man's people have had extensive experience with a certain clientele desiring a classic English styled suit. Their more conservative ambience and cloth attests to that, and they do it very well. If that's what I wanted, I would see them. They probably do a very good job with traditional tweeds and odd jackets. I’ll likely ask them to make me one. Chan can do a lot but if not directed towards a certain stance, the product may not be as nice. I found this in my first suit from a while back (and the aforementioned misadventure a result of too much direction), which isn't as nice as my first A-Man. But then I came to understand what I wanted and Patrick, not least because of his age, has a good feel for my tastes. With the ladies' fashion staff in the same room, I feel the firm is more receptive to slightly unusual requests. They won’t skip a beat (at least not visibly) when asked to make up something with an aubergine or jade green fabric or such. I'm very happy with what we do now. And I personally like the humbler showroom, its mirrored fitting room, that old Shanghainese tailors work right upstairs, that Patrick wears jeans, and the lack of passersby. In the end, as quality and pricing are virtually the same between the two tailors, it comes down to individual taste and how comfortable one feels with the respective staffs and stores. WW Chan's info can be found on their website www.wwchan.com A-Man Hing Cheong's contact info is not easy to find on the web so here are their phone numbers and email (I doubt they check this often): (T) 852 2522 3336 (F) 852 2523 4707 [email protected]
 

Girardian

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Exellent post, photos, and comments. The coverage of A-Man is very helpful as well. Great results. I'd keep to my fitness regimine if I were you -- the suits fit very nicely.
 

Kent Wang

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Very dramatic fit, though I find the 1-button looks strange.
 

edmorel

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Both suits fit you wonderfully. The Chan suit seems to have better workmanship. They both, though, look like very quality pieces. A Man seems to have done a great job of achieving your look on the first try. What are the price differences? To the Chan fans on the forum, would he work with my fabric and if I wanted two/three fittings what time frame would I be looking at given his United States schedule?
 

whoopee

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I don't know how exactly the prices for the two houses compare given the same cloth but the difference will be within a couple hundred HKD. Not enough for price to factor into the decision. But I think the two generally work with different types of cloth.

Chan will take your fabric. Don't know if they do fittings on the tour.
 

dah328

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Chan will happily work with your own fabric. I don't know how happy they'd be about 2 or 3 fittings, but they'll certainly do one. They come to NYC three times per year, so if they did three fittings, it would take at least a year to get your suit.
 

GBR

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The Chan garment looks overall the better finished especially the inside view. The pockets are neater and for a three quarter lining the attention to the visible seems far better and they are properly trimmed. The A-Man lining also looks cheap.


In the Chan jacket you have a useful right in-ticket pocket in the facing but not in the A-Man. Did A-man forget this or did you not ask for it?

I assume you also have the trousers cut with a high waist - possibly the one thing that is better is the buckle arrangement although I would assume that a few words with Patrick would ensure that this was attended to.

This is an interesting report and thanks for doing it. When next I go I will do a similar one with Chan and Yao - my own two preferred options
 

dah328

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Great post. I was planning to create a wiki page with some blurbs on different tailors from around the world. Would you mind if this one were used for part of the A-Man and Chan entries?

Both suits look great. You're obviously a fan of above-average waist suppression, but it works for you. The shoulders on the Chan jacket appear to be slightly roped as opposed to the A-Man jacket. Did you specify that or was it a house default? Also, the front quarters on your Chan jacket are much more open than mine, and I even had to convince Patrick to open mine up to where they are now. While I agree that Patrick is very accomodating, he does balk at certain stylistic choices.

dan
 

whoopee

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Dan, I specified the roped shoulders with the Chan suit. The "house cut" (which I really can't define) seems to come with slight roping.

That's funny. Patrick sounded quite sorry that the quarters on my suit couldn't be more open because of the patch pockets. I assured him that it's great as it is.

My first suit had closed quarters, too. It was rather "safe" but after some more time working together he has a better idea of what I'm after. I trust his taste. He did and suggested a couple things with this suit that turned out quite well.

Edit: Oh, and I don't mind at all. We really should work on that wiki.
 

whoopee

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GBR the Chan suit is the first bespoke I have with two ticket pockets because I requested it this time. I didn't ask A-Man, and it's not standard in my experience.

The dark lining doesn't help with the photography. The lining is the same I have in my Kilgours. I don't like it as much either but am not sure it's cheap. The trimming of the Chan suit stands out because of the lining. I also think it's a little better but for reasons that can only be seen up close and in person.

It's a mid-high rise. Not as high as brace trousers. I do intend to discuss the side buckles with Patrick. They are the one thing that bothers me, and I'm sure some of his other clients too.

Please do post your experiences.
 

itsstillmatt

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Whoopee-

I really like the cuts on both suits. I would say, however, that the upper back/neck are on the AMHC suit should be a touch cleaner. When you wear your clothing rather close to the body (as I do as well), you increase the probability of having slight ripples under your collar. You can have them fix this easily, but it is a fact of life with closely tailored clothing.
 

whoopee

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iammatt, thanks for the compliment and tip. I'd actually not noticed it, in part because I hadn't a chance to look at the back without contorting my body. I'll mention it to them.
 

Kent Wang

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Originally Posted by edmorel
The Chan suit seems to have better workmanship.
Can you cite some examples? BTW, I love that pink tie.
 

itsstillmatt

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Originally Posted by whoopee
iammatt, thanks for the compliment and tip. I'd actually not noticed it, in part because I hadn't a chance to look at the back without contorting my body. I'll mention it to them.


It is just a problem that if the cloth hugs the body, then the amount of cloth in the upper back needs to be more perfect. If you wore your suits like most people (which I would not advise), the touch of extra cloth would not be seen.

I really do like the silhouette that you developed with chan a bit better. There is less break around the middle and the overall look is slightly cleaner. Are those patch pockets?
 

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