Jan 15, 2019
She makes clothes for men.
The Raffles College of Higher Education (Raffles Design) graduate is part of a generational business of tailors where she is learning the art of making bespoke suits. The traditional craft is very technical and hands-on — qualities she appreciates — and she enjoys being involved in the entire production process of a garment.
Ms Annabel Zee, 26, attributes her passion for artistry to her education at Raffles Design.
In 2015, she enrolled in the full-time, two-year Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design, followed by a one-year Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fashion, awarded by Coventry University in the United Kingdom, and delivered by Raffles Design. She graduated in December 2017 with First Class Honours.
Her creative talent was recognised when she was shortlisted for the Frankfurt Style Awards 2017. Her creative practitioners encouraged her to go for it, and she flew to Germany, gained new perspectives and forged new friendships.
Ms Zee tells us more:
I chose Raffles Design because of its curriculum structure. The schedules are compact, and the school approaches fashion as a whole. We are trained in all spectrums of the fashion industry, from sourcing to design, to production. When we approach fashion, we do not take it only from the creative aspect, but strike a balance with practicality and functionality.
As Raffles Design takes a holistic approach to fashion, it piqued my curiosity to how fabrics are made in the mills, the endless varieties in the market, and the entire creative process, right to the drafting, cutting and sewing. When I graduated, I knew that I wanted to work in a place where I would be involved in the entire production process of a garment, from start to finish.
I also received a lot of tough love from Raffles Design’s team of creative practitioners, and I deeply value their effort to nurture and care for their students. I graduated not only with a degree, but also with a newfound family.
My creative practitioner recognised this as my strength. Perhaps it has roots in my childhood, when I saw a lot of men in uniform. There is this masculinity that I embrace, and I have never looked back. Menswear is definitely more challenging, and it also requires an understanding of their behavioural patterns (how they shop, functionality issues, and so on).
If I compare myself to my peers, they are either pursuing further fashion studies or working as designers or junior designers. I am apprenticing at a local tailor, under a “shifu” (master).
I continue to hone my skills, building from what I acquired at Raffles Design — how a bespoke suit is crafted, and the man-hours required to make a gentleman look and feel good. From the ancient method of constructing handmade floating chest pieces to getting the perfect fit, right to the buttonholes — everything is a craft, and very different from the mass-produced, ready-to-wear garments that are available everywhere.
I had a stint with a luxury label, but it made me long for something more, other than wanting my clients to look and feel good. My previous job on the sales floor also trained me in interpersonal relationships, taught me to be sincere with clients, and how to treat them as individuals.
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