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A CYC tailor takes the measurements of a customer.

A CYC tailor scans catalogues with a germkilling UV light stick.

A CYC tailor zaps a measuring tape in a steriliser box.

Hugo Boss staff observe safety measures.

Hugo Boss staff observe safety measures.

MENSWEAR: Battling Covid – stylishly, of course

Menswear brands fight the pandemic on all fronts
Jun 26, 2020 5:50 AM

At CYC Made To Measure, no precaution is too small. Before you sit down for your consultation, the tailor has wiped down the tables and chairs with antibacterial sheets. The fabric catalogues have been tased by a germ-killing UV light stick. The measuring tape has been zapped in a steriliser box. And a bottle of hand sanitiser is never farther than a metre away from you.

Fong Loo Fern, CYC’s managing director, says: “We’ve heeded every government directive, but we’ve also done our own research. We’ve collaborated with local research company AirTum to apply an anti-viral solution called ViroQ on some of our products which kills 99.99 per cent of human coronavirus, H1N1 and other germs. We now sell the ViroQ spray and our own masks. Just one ViroQ spray coating on the mask keeps it virus-resistant for up to 15 washes.”

The masks are, of course, made from the best fabric in the store. And just as CYC is famous for its sharp tailoring, the masks have been designed to hew to the complex structure of your nose, chin and jawline.

CYC, which has stores at Capitol Piazza and Fullerton Hotel, has seen business slowly pick up in Phase 2. But much of it still comes from longtime customers needing to tailor something specific, rather than fresh walk-ins. Mrs Fong says: “The bulk of CYC’s clients are locals and expatriates. Because of that, we are not affected much by the travel restrictions and the drop in tourist numbers.”

Other retail players tell a different story. The Shoppes At Marina Bay Sands (MBS), for instance, is significantly reliant on tourist footfall. The Hugo Boss store at MBS, for one, was relatively quiet compared to its stores on Orchard Road. There, several customers could be spotted walking away happily with Hugo Boss shopping bags like trophies after a battle. 

Steven Lam, managing director of Hugo Boss South East Asia, says: “The drop in tourist traffic will be a challenge, because that has become an important part of our business. And that will be hard to regain in the short term… But we have a strong loyal base of local customers whom we’ll need to engage in different ways, such as home delivery, closed-door shopping, personalised web-based concierge shopping via Whatsapp or Zoom, and shopping with fast turnaround… The traditional retail where people will take their time, browse and shop may be the big change in this new environment.”  

During lockdown, Hugo Boss managed to fulfill requests for tuxedos using its advanced fitting systems and knowledge of customers’ purchase history. It was able to get suits altered and delivered to customers without them stepping into the stores. While other companies close ranks in difficult times, Hugo Boss also chose to lend a hand to other industries: Its recent #BossTogetherSG involved a collaboration with local restaurants where 10 per cent of the proceeds from ordering an exclusive Boss menu go to The Food Bank Singapore, which provides food to vulnerable communities.

Meanwhile at Ermenegildo Zegna, its stylists have taken to omni-channel forms of consultation to compensate for the reluctance of some to leave their houses. After speaking with a customer, the stylists would curate a special online wardrobe just for them and deliver them select pieces to try. 

The embrace of digital platforms has been so complete for Zegna that it decided to ditch the live fashion show this season. Instead it will present a digital-only showcase which anyone in the world can access. Alessandro Sartori, its artistic director, says: “I’ve always wanted to use alternative formats to communicate my creative process to an even wider audience. The idea that this season I will present the collection with a digital tool gives me great energy and freedom of thought because I can finally enter directly into people’s place.”

Gildo Zegna, the group CEO, summed up what many are thinking: “There’s a time for everything. And this is the time to think differently about the future."