There is a full case of whiskey in the Common Suits office, perched atop a varnished black drinks cooler, which in turn is fitted below volumes of Italian fabric books. Adverts for a start-up slim wallet brand, Sliv, share table space with printed-out tailoring instructions and uncreased Common Suits buy guides.
What strikes you about owner Ryan Chua and his small but sturdy outfit is not that everything looks good (which it does), but rather the engineered precision with which the IT professional-turned-suitmaking partner stage-manages every last detail of his experience. And yes, that goes all the way down to his suits, which, as someone who has stopped by for a courtesy visit, is quite the fit.
We sat down with Ryan to talk more about Common Suits' origins, tailoring philosophy, suiting up, and what dressing well means today for the budding young man.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you end up falling in love with the suit making game?
"Nearly two years ago, I took a trip to Common Suits Singapore to discuss selling Primo, my other brand for menswear accessories (cuff links, pocket squares, etc.). During my stay, Javin They, the owner, showed me their haberdashery. I immediately took note of how different their suits were, especially from the ones available in the Philippines. They all had excellent proportioning, breathability, and a flattering cut. I also got to see their suit making process, and I realized how much attention to detail their master tailor put in. These altogether got me more appreciative and excited, so much so that I ended up having one made and bringing the experience to Manila."
Could you explain the whole concept of Common Suits PH to us? How does it work?
"There are usually 3 to 4 appointments needed to get the perfect suit. We'll need 3 months regular lead time after initial consultation, or 2 months with a prioritization fee.
"The first appointment is the initial consultation, where we try to determine the purpose of the suit and other preferred crafting details. We ask customers if they want their suit to be for work or for events, discuss preferred fabric and styles, and more. After hearing them out, we take all that information into consideration and give advice on what will best suit them.
"The basted fitting happens during the second appointment. Here, we have clients try on suits cut exclusively just for them on dummy fabric. We will then examine and diagnose what are the necessary adjustments needed. In this phase, we aim to perfect how the suit would drape. After this appointment, our tailors in Singapore will then make the final adjustments on the actual choice of fabric to complete the suit. We will also save the final adjusted pattern that we've created for our clients so that it makes repurchase a lot easier and faster.
"The third and possibly final appointment would be the final fitting or pickup. Clients fit the final suit shipped from Singapore and assess the overall fit. If no adjustments are needed, we will pack the suit on our sturdy wooden hanger and in a water-resilient woven suit bag, and clients can be on their way. If otherwise, our in-house tailors will make the necessary minor adjustments and have the suit ready in a week."
Walk us through Common Suits' general tailoring philosophy.
"We believe in permanent fashion—an enduring style of masculine art to empower men and remind them of the common traits of good men. Men and society have evolved over the centuries, but what fundamentally makes a man are the core values of integrity, manners, power, humility, resilience, confidence, leadership, and inspiration. Regardless of background and status, these traits are the common denominators of all good men. Common Suits too is a common denominator of all good men.
"We want to allow men to feel and perform their best by being their best wingman. We want to help men develop taste—the sort of taste that is fearless yet grounded; unapologetic yet humble; refined yet effortless."
What's your favorite suit-wearing occasion?
"Definitely business social events. Here, everyone has to come in a suit, and you get the opportunity to engage with others who also appreciate each and every design cue of a suit. It’s always great to converse with others who share the same passions."
Where do you see yourself, and Common Suits PH, three to five years from now?
"The mission we have in the Philippines is to educate everyone on sartorial menswear, trumping all the misconceptions that come with it such as heat, hassle, and fit. In three years' time, we believe we will have achieved this through all our communication efforts online and offline, as well as through our free one-on-one consultations. Naturally, we want to be the trusted provider of well-crafted bespoke suits to the gentlemen of Manila.
Top three suit brands or suit makers (aside from Common Suits PH), that every self-respecting menswear head should take a look at, and why?
"Suit brands people should look into are those with a signature look, something that piques the interest of other aficionados. Cifonelli has this iconic shoulder expression and roping. B&Tailor has some of the best drapes I have seen, as there is an excellent ratio of structure to flow. Lastly, a more recognizable brand: Tom Ford. There are other brands with more distinct features than Tom Ford but their story and message really encompass the sartorial lifestyle, and it reflects in their suits."