Article from Focus Malaysia
Written by Ong Chin Huat
For the last 45 years, Lord’s Tailor has earned an unsurpassed reputation for uncompromising quality and impeccable service.
Celebrating 45 years in the ephemeral world of men’s style and fashion is no mean feat but that is exactly what home-grown and family-run menswear and tailoring business Lord’s Tailor is doing this year.
Capping this memorable milestone, the family behind Lord’s Tailor, the Lohs led by patriarch Robert Loh, his wife Lee Lee, son Kenny and daughters Olivia and Vicky recently commemorated this 45th anniversary with a dinner and fashion show held in celebrity Chef Wan’s stylish new restaurant De Wan 1958.
Over 200 specially invited guests, many of them celebrities and prominent members of society who are often seen in boardrooms, in Parliament or on stage garbed in Lord’s well-cut suits and shirts, turned up to the event themed “The Gentleman’s Journey.” Among them were Prof Datuk Jimmy Choo, Chef Wan himself, Wak Doyok, Hisyam Hamid, Aaron Aziz, Anuar Zain and Siti Nurhaliza who graced the event and enjoyed the pampering session as well as the entertainment.
With the crème de la crème of Malaysian society hobnobbing with entire Loh clan, this glittering event is testament to how far Lord’s Tailor has come from its early days when Robert Loh first opened his tailor store along Jalan Alor back in 1974. Named Groovy Apparel, Loh senior would have never envisaged that his skills as a cutter and master tailor would propel him to become the leading tailor in Malaysia.
Hailing from a humble family, Robert grew up with six siblings in a little flat in Campbell Road. Helping his mother sell local cakes in the market, he would often walk past the numerous tailor establishments located around his home and befriended the elder tailors where he observed them plying their trade. This obviously sowed the seeds in his then impressionable mind as to what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
After getting married to Lee Lee, Robert decided to pool his savings from doing odd jobs and at age 29, he opened his first tailor store which was subsequently renamed Lord’s in the early 1980’s. Investing in his new found career, Robert went off to London six months after opening his store to Tailor and Cutter Academy in Saville Row where he earned a Diploma in Tailoring with honours.
It was only a year after opening that Robert got his first big break. The Muhammad Ali versus Joe Bugner boxing match was a big deal in Malaysia back in 1975 and when Robert got a call to visit the hotel where the legendary Ali was staying to attend to his tailoring needs, he could barely conceal his excitement. Having made a suit for Ali, Robert went on to dress the boxer’s entire entourage, a custom which will be etched in his memory forever.
From professional athletes to top politicians, high profile customers patronised Lord’s and the tailor’s reputation grew by leaps and bounds. Tun Dr Mahathir came a calling in 1987 when his then son-in-law recommended Robert’s sartorial skills in crafting bespoke suits. More recently, Tun Dr Mahathir again turned to his trusted friend Robert to tailor a bespoke double-breasted royal blue suit for his first Parliament sitting after winning the historic 14th general elections in 2018. Attracting admiring glances in Parliament, incumbent MPs and the opposition might have not have seen eye to eye on many issues but both sides probably agreed how dapper the 93-year-old prime minister looked in the Dewan Rakyat.
Robert can revel in the fact that all his hard work over the years has paid off. “I feel like 45 years is indeed a great achievement and we are very happy to have come this far,” Robert said. “Looking back, we have worked hard to ensure our customers are 100% satisfied with our quality and service and now we can see that the brand is trusted for our craftsmanship.”
With his three children working at Lord’s, Robert today has a younger generation to help him steer the family business towards a new era. His eldest child Kenny is the Creative Director while his second child Olivia is the Retail and Marketing Director and youngest daughter Vicky is the Operations Director. Catering to a brand new demographic, the opening of Lord’s 1975 at the Garden’s Mall signalled the company’s move into the ready-to-wear market.
With formal wear forming the main bulk of their RTW business, a made-to-measure service – one step below bespoke but two steps above ready-to-wear – is also offered at their Gardens Mall as well as Robinsons Shoppes at Four Seasons Place. And women aren’t left out either because Lord’s plan to launch their ladies made-to-measure service next year.
Kenny Loh embodies the spirit of Lord’s today, dressed impeccably in a linen blend checked jacket and plain trousers at The Garden’s store where we met. When asked how Lord’s has changed over the years, his reply was resolute. “Many things have changed but two things remain a constant – our quality and service,” explaining that those two admirable qualities are also what has ensured Lord’s longevity.
Olivia Loh who is the Retail and Marketing Director at Lord’s echoes what her elder brother says, adding that opening Lord’s 1974 at The Gardens Mall is evidence that Lord’s is evolving with the times. “With our store at The Gardens Mall we have introduced a comprehensive ready-to-wear collection which comprise suits, shirts, dinner jackets and other men’s accessories like ties, cufflinks and pocket squares which are all very reasonably priced…our aim is to reach out to a younger audience.”
Going beyond the superficial, Kenny says that what goes into a jacket is just as important what the fabric and its outward appearance. “We have what we call a half-canvas finishing in the interior of the jacket where certain portions are fused together and other portions are stitched by hand…. there are almost 200 steps that go into making a bespoke suit.”
Olivia reveals that Lord’s is one of very few tailors who actually own their workshop as well as the entire production facility. “We have over 60 staff in total with some of them having been with us for over 30 years,” she says. “We also just purchased our own building housing a factory which we will move into in December and will serve as our new headquarters, allowing us to expand our production capacity and provide a wider range of services including corporate uniforms.” Next year will also see Lord’s expand to Singapore with the opening of a store in Robinsons The Heeren on Orchard Road.
Fittingly, Lord’s was recently awarded the prestigious “World’s Best Brand” by The World Branding Awards based in the UK, among other accolades which this outfitter has been bestowed.
Looking ahead, where does Kenny see menswear heading? “Classical menswear will always be in vogue. Streetwear may be trendy now but at the end of the day I think people will still appreciate classical tailoring as there is nothing better than clothes which fit well.”