Tailor, 71, sews up prize for best new retail entrant

Mr Thomas Wong opened atelier cum workshop The Prestigious at Boat Quay in August last year, so he could impart his decades of experience to apprentices. The Singapore Retail Association said it picked The Prestigious for the Best New Entrant award a
Mr Thomas Wong opened atelier cum workshop The Prestigious at Boat Quay in August last year, so he could impart his decades of experience to apprentices. The Singapore Retail Association said it picked The Prestigious for the Best New Entrant award as it was a true home-grown retailer that had built its business on deeply rooted values.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

At 71, an age when most people would have retired, Mr Thomas Wong has won an award for best new entrant to the retail scene.

The master tailor opened an atelier-cum-workshop, The Prestigious, at Boat Quay in August last year so he could impart his decades of experience to apprentices.

It was actually the successor to a shop he used to run, also called The Prestigious, up till 2012, when he started teaching a menswear course at Lasalle College of the Arts. Of the nine young apprentices working with him now, three had attended his course at Lasalle.

"It wasn't about making money. I wanted to train a new generation of tailors and breathe life into the industry," said Mr Wong.

The Singapore Retail Association (SRA) picked The Prestigious as it exemplified a true home-grown retailer that had built its business on deeply rooted values, it said.

At its awards event yesterday, SRA president R. Dhinakaran said: "The Prestigious is proof... that customer engagement and creating a positive experience are key to getting ahead in the competitive environment."

Seven other awards were given out at the SRA's annual ball at the Raffles City Convention Centre. Best Retail Concept went to Victoria's Secret's flagship store at Mandarin Gallery, and Pokemon at Changi Airport won Best Retail Event.

Guest of honour Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said all retailers could learn from the winners. The retail industry is undergoing disruption worldwide, and she said she was glad to see stakeholders band together on the Retail Industry Transformation Map to launch new concepts, redesign jobs and use technology.

"No aspiring global city can afford to do without great shopping. I believe in the relevance and the potential of Singapore retailers and retail brand owners," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2017, with the headline 'Tailor, 71, sews up prize for best new retail entrant'. Print Edition | Subscribe