It’s so uncommon for local labels to tackle winter wear that when you see a good cold-weather outer by any one of them, you think you have struck gold. This was how we felt when we stumbled upon this coat by Nuboaix, the quiet men’s wear label designed by the couple Jessica Lee and Yong Siyuan. The bi-coloured wool coat, with just the right heft and amount of details, beckoned also because it has that rare quality called hanger appeal.
Most young designers who go to design school here have not been taught to undertake winter wear, a category that requires different handling (and even equipment), as opposed to that comprising warm-weather clothes. In fact, those Singaporean brands that do offer winter wear mostly source from suppliers in China, where many coats and woolens can be purchased wholesale for re-branded re-sell.
Ms Lee and Mr Yong, both graduates of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Fashion Studies, too, went through a curriculum that skipped the design of clothing with heavy fabrics. Yet, they have been able to put out their winter collections, albeit small, that could sit comfortably alongside those by European bands. The devil, as it is often said, is in the details. And a sensitivity to the fabrics in the hand.
360 degrees: the subtle but alluring details of the coat
This hybrid of a racer-meets-parka (with a detachable hoodie) is at once enticing because of its softly structured form. Within it are Nuboaix signatures such as curved seams (and hem) and organically shaped inset for the sleeves. For decorative element, there are the strategically placed grommets, as well as zippers, both hinting at a biker sensibility. The zip-up front is slightly asymmetric, but only just so, and the barely off-centre zip positioning gives the coat a decidedly modern edge.
A mark of a beautiful coat is the fit. Here, there’s no question it sits supremely well on the body, with a smooth and comfortable hug of the shoulders that clearly suggests the designers’ skill with drafting the design. Unzipped, the coat swings out without the tented effect of one that’s cut too generously in the mid section. The curved hem—longer in the front than the back—provides a graphic counterpoint to those who like wearing their shirt-tails untucked.
What is most impressive to us is the fact that the Nuboaix designers produce their own samples and sew everything themselves. We were told that, Mr Yong is, in fact, especially dexterous at both the cutting table and on the sewing machine. Despite the odds and a tough retail market, the pair has, through sheer grit and ingenuity, been able to produce season after season pieces that respect the tradition of men’s tailoring and, at the same time, offer innovations that they can truly call their own.
With so much handwork involved, this, to us, is truly a crafted article of clothing. Therein lies its greatest appeal.
Nuboaix coat in navy or grey, SGD699, is available at Robinsons The Hereen. Photo: Jim Sim