|▲ Prezzo Massimo / CEO Kim Gyu-hwan|
Back in the days in 70s, tailor's shops were easily spotted in alleys of every village. The Skills Competition enhanced the boom of the industry and villagers were to have a suit when they got a job or have family occasions such as weddings. The advent of ready-made suits with good value for money, however, was a bad news and the shops started to disappear one by one. Nevertheless, some of them are still running the business and Kim Gyu-hwan, CEO of Prezzo Massimo, is one of them.
Kim got a job at a thriving tailor's shop on Chang-dong, Masan District, Changwon City, at the age of 16. He earned 1,000 won (0.83 USD) equivalent to a sack of rice.
He did everything from serving to learning no matter how trivial and how hard the duty entailed. One must go through obtaining knowledge and skills to do apprentice, trousers, vest, top and the final tailoring for tens of years in order to be a respected tailor.
Having gone through all of this with incredible diligence and endurance, Kim opened his own tailor shop Prezzo Massimo on the first floor of Hotel International, Jungang-dong, Seongsan District, Changwon City, in 1991. He then relocated the shop to the current location.
As a man of simple mind, he had no interest in the Skills Competition. But after 45 years of his expertise, he thought it was time he might have a go. At his maiden battle, he proved himself of his skills by winning the excellent prize which was no surprise at all to his fellow tailors and the people around him.
His skills spread far and wide. He was invited to mast tailor competitions held South Korea and Taiwan and to the 38th World Tailors General Meeting of Italy which led him to be a judge of the 1st Master Handmade Suits Exhibition held at the Korea National Assembly building in 2015. Some say that around yearly 3,000 people are in line to receive his master tailoring today.
One of a kind suit
"I can read instantly about the body, disposition and profession of a man who enters my shop. So I already know what suits him best. The difference between tailor-made and ready-made is that the latter is the case that the man adjusts his body to the suit; but the former requires precise measures on the client's body alongside the color, pattern and style" explains Kim.
Also important is what kind of fabric suits the man best because the same fabric applies uniquely to each individual according to his shape of the body.
"All of this tailor-made process is often called 'bespoke' in which the tailor takes in charge of everything from choosing the fabric and making the patterns to cutting and final tailoring. For this reason, bespoke is the very mastership of a respected tailor in the truest sense."
Having walked a single path as a tailor for the last 50 years, Kim's mastership is well known home and abroad. A story goes that a CEO of a Chinese company offered him a tailor's shop in Shanghai.
"I have this will of passing down my skills to ambitious young people. Those who are interested are welcome to my shop."
김태인 기자 email@example.com