In the early stage of my blogging career I had the opportunity in working with the pioneer and finest bespoke tailor in the Philippines, Tiño. We lost in touch after a few years and it was just last year that we were able to get in touch once again. As for any individual or company that never stopped learning and advancing their craft, it is only inevitable that you will see a great deal of progress.
Early this year an idea came to me to do a capsule collection in collaboration with Tiño which is set to launch in October which brought me to the idea of visiting their workshop and learning about their standards, overall situation of the tailors and their work stations. This curiosity and interest evolved during my learnings in classic menswear. As I read more and more about sartorial, one among the many qualities that companies share in the industry is the quality of their craftsmanship which led me the idea of visiting the Tiño workshop.
As I reached the location of their workshop I was instantly welcomed by one of their employees and assisted me through the door. As I stepped into the building a fresh sense have struck me at once. it feels like you are just at home with a pleasant receiving area but you can’t be mistaken that it’s a tailoring house of some sort because of their accent pieces like the figure and some old sewing machines. They even have a separate room for their client meetings which I used to interview ms. Eilene Ramirez, co-owner of Tiño. On the second floor you see the tailors in their different stations. I was on perfect timing to witness the tailors in action, one is working on a canvass, some are in their sewing machines and some are working on the finishing details of some suit jackets.
According to ms. Eilene the business started back in 2001 when she had a vision of bringing back the dying industry of bespoke tailoring in the Philippines. Believing that they got what it takes to make it a successful business due to the talents of his dad, the man behind the brand, the master tailor, mr. Napoleon Arienza, also known as Sir Nap. I myself address him as “daddy”, as a sign of respect or simply because he’s like a dad to anyone who has the passion for tailoring and classic menswear. He is very gentle, humble and always generous in sharing his knowledge in tailoring to anyone who aspires to be a successful tailor including me. We always have a nice chat every time I get to visit their store in Makati. To give you a brief history about Sir Nap, he started his tailoring career at the age of 18, after some years he was appointed as the master cutter at a tailoring shop owned by an Italian designer and businessman, Giovanni Sanna where he worked there from 1978-1984. After working there he then became the headmaster cutter at Rustan’s Monsieur Boutique in Makati City. In 1997, Brioni hired him; the branch was located at Shangri-la Mall along Shaw Boulevard. This famous tailoring house made suits for the iconic “James Bond” during the 1990’s. Even with Sir Nap’s tailoring dexterity, he never got contented it just continued to developed especially when he stayed for two months in Brioni at Penne, Italy. There was a time when a tailor told him during his training, saying, be careful Senior Arienza, a part of the coat you are holding will be worn by James Bond. He didn’t know that it was for Pierce Brosnan until he went back home to the Philippines and heard of it on TV and Radio!
Aside from Sir Nap’s wide experience in tailoring, the other reason why I admire Tiño is the way they take care of their tailors. They are given the opportunity to learn and become a great tailor with the guidance of Sir Nap whether or not they feel like they can have a long time career in being a tailor. They are also given proper benefits as an employee and lastly a good working environment which for me is very important as well.
But there is one more formula that got Tiño to the level where they are now, it is “mommy” the sweet mom of ms. Eilene. She is the one who makes sure that quality of the craftsmanship stays high and consistent. In this type of business maintaining a high quality is vital, it will be the determining factor on how long and far can you stay in the game.
It was indeed a fruitful day at the workshop aside from being able to finalise our collection, I got to learn more things about Tiño which is very significant for me. It was definitely worth the 2 1/2 hours drive from my place to the workshop.
grabbed from the website of Tiño.
Photographed by JB DeLeon