EXCERPT TAKEN FROM THE STRAITS TIMES
Ms Sheryl Yeo barely knew how to work a needle when she started her two-year tailoring apprenticeship in 2016.
“I was really terrible at sewing in the beginning and there was a period of time when I questioned myself why I was doing this,” says Ms Yeo, who became an apprentice at established tailor The Presti- gious after quitting her marketing job at a local label.
Today, Ms Yeo, 28, is the founder of 3Eighth, a custom garment label operating out of an 800 sq ft shop space in Circular Road. She shares the space with another tailor brand.
Ms Yeo, who considers herself a tomboy who played basketball growing up, would go to the men’s section of stores to pick out shirts and trousers in smaller sizes.
But these never quite fit. “A piece made for the male body is never going to sit perfectly on a female body simply because we have curves,” she says.
3Eighth – the name refers to three eighth of an inch, the allowance tailors leave for tweaks – serves male customers mainly, but also hopes to cater to women who want to wear shirts, suits and trousers that fit well.
Started in November, it is among a handful of female-fronted tailor brands here, in an industry that is still largely dominated by men. Breaking into the tough trade often requires an apprenticeship, which involves a six-day work week and long hours that can stretch into the evenings.
Ms Yeo takes inspiration from British master tailor Kathryn Sargent, who became, in 2016, the first woman to open a tailor shop in London’s Savile Row. Ms Yeo has had to earn her pinstripes, especially when it comes to serving male customers. “People don’t really expect to see a female tailor working in the shop, so sometimes, they think I’m a retail associate,” she says, adding that most of her clients are men who work in the Central Business District.
But every time a woman walks into her shop to get a piece made, she considers it a win.
“I make sure to serve the female customer because it’s important to me that I make them feel comfortable in this space. “Unlike men who wear shirts daily for work, it takes an extra push for a woman to come in to get pieces done,” she says.
Shirts, made from 100 per cent cotton, start at $120 each while a suit jacket and trousers set starts at $650 for both men and women. The shop’s range is expanding to include shirt dresses and casual wear.
In August last year, Ms Yeo got married in matching floral suits with her husband. Inspired by British singer Harry Styles’ floral Gucci suit in his Kiwi music video, she designed and made the two statement suits over six months with help from her mentor and a former colleague. She wore a bright yellow suit while her husband Nigel Tan, 31, a music composer, wore a navy floral suit — both made with curtain fabric from British brand Liberty London.
The most memorable outfit she recently completed was a suit for a Singaporean woman who is marry- ing her female partner, who will wear a wedding gown, in New Zealand in May.
“It touched me when she shared her story and the reason behind wanting to do this suit. Doing pieces like this is why I started this brand,” says Ms Yeo.