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A heritage tailor shop built on community

theDesk Strand 50 - Neighbor - Tailor
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As a long-time tenant of Strand 50 in Sheung Wan, the proprietor of Law Wai Kin Tailor and Flag-Making Shop, Law Wai Kin, has a wealth of stories about the value of building networks. As such, Mr. Law was happy to share his insights with theDesk when we approached him as part of our initiative to create meaningful links with our fellow Strand 50 neighbors and community. 

This interview was particularly relevant because personal connections matter to Law Wai Kin. The proprietor of Law Wai Kin Tailor and Flag-Making Shop opened his doors forty years ago in Sheung Wan and has built strong ties not only with loyal clients but also suppliers and other industry services.

Mr. Law can attest to the value of these relationships: the three tailors currently working with him were referrals by his industry colleagues, such as fabric suppliers. “Within the industry, there are always many points of contact. When you buy a lot of materials, you get to chat about the business in a place where a lot of other people in the industry gather.”

Finding the right people who share the same standards and values has been a huge benefit to Mr. Law. As the owner of one of the last few shops in Hong Kong that still have classic tailors trained in traditional tailoring, he talks with pride in the high standards of his bespoke clothing: “Customers value the excellence of our craftsmanship. Many other shops will send their orders back to mainland China to be sewn, but the tailors there don’t have the skills and training to recreate the quality of clothing that we provide.”

The quality of traditional craftsmanship

Law Wai Kin Tailor caters to male customers who are in search of finely tailored suits for work and special occasions like weddings and other celebrations—customers who understand and appreciate the importance of attention to detail and the use of high-quality fabrics.

Orders can take anywhere between two weeks to a month to be completed because of the limited number of tailors at Mr. Law’s shop. However, Mr. Law stressed that speed is not a criteria for his loyal clients. “They don’t want something done fast. They want something with excellent quality, and they want something beautiful.”

Mr. Law explained that clients understand that the higher their standards and the more complex their expectations are, the more it may affect their final delivery date. “They may need two fittings or maybe three fittings, and that inevitably extends the timeline.”

theDesk Strand 50 - Neighbor - Tailor Mr. Law

A web of reciprocity

Apart from the exceptional quality of Law Wai Kin’s suits, clients are assured that their preferences will be taken into account and catered to, regardless of their indecision or inexperience with bespoke tailoring. This guarantee comes from Mr. Law’s ability to listen to their concerns and create a bridge between their preferences and what he and his tailors are capable of creating.

This ability to connect with his clients is a result of years of experience. Mr. Law admitted that when he first opened shop, the biggest challenge he faced was to understand what clients wanted, even if they weren’t able to articulate it themselves. “You have to have a sense and feeling of what they want and identify it. It’s sometimes easy to misunderstand what a client wants, especially if a client doesn’t communicate clearly. You have to train yourself to listen and pay attention to what it is your clients are asking for. This is one of the hardest skills to grasp.”

Being able to build relationships in this way has meant that Mr. Law has never needed to advertise his business, relying only on a network of referrals and word-of-mouth. New clients come in all the time; while he has clients who are in their sixties or seventies, the bulk of them are in their thirties and forties. “Some of my clients are referred by old ones. Some come to my shop, and sometimes I go to their offices to do business.”

Many of Law Wai Kin Tailor’s clients work in Central and visit him during lunch or after they get off work as his Sheung Wan location is extremely convenient for them. Mr. Law said with some humor that another advantage of his location is that “Sheung Wan attracts clients who tend to be classier and more polite. That makes me happier when I do business with them because there’s a lot less hassle involved.”

Staying close to one’s roots

A true Sheung Wan native who was raised in the area, Mr. Law explained that it was his passion for tailoring that inspired him to open his shop. He’s never felt the need to do any other job or business, saying, “Passion is the most important thing for a career.”

theDesk Strand 50 - Neighbor - Tailor Mr. Law

His familiarity with the Sheung Wan neighborhood and his ties with the local residents led him to start his tailoring business close to home. His first shop was at a building along Mercer Street, but when the building went through extensive renovations, Mr. Law decided to move to the former ground floor mall of Bonham Trade Centre (Strand 50’s previous name) before eventually settling in Unit 1305, where the shop has remained to this day.

He enjoys the location for its relatively affordable rent and ease of transport. “The MTR is very close to my shop. Whenever I have to go and see clients in Central and Causeway Bay, it’s very convenient. The MTR can take you there fast.”

A fresh but familiar neighborhood vibe

According to Mr. Law, while the streets of Sheung Wan haven’t changed much in the forty years his shop has operated there, he’s witnessed dramatic changes in the buildings in the area. “Once you’ve passed Hollywood Road and up, you’ll see buildings that seem like they should be in Central. Sheung Wan has changed so quickly, like the pier, for example, but not really so much around here where we are.”

Mr. Law said that even though Sheung Wan is probably more known for its restaurants and coffee shops nowadays—“It’s a little like SoHo”—he pointed out the dried goods and seafood street as retaining the old Sheung Wan flavor that he remembers from the past.

And yet, despite all of its changes, Mr. Law said that the district has managed to hold on to the feeling of a personable and tight-knit neighborhood. He makes a big distinction between Sheung Wan and Central, which he considers more commercialized. “There’s still a bit of the small community feeling in Sheung Wan, that reminder of the past. Locals will still greet you when they see you, things like that.”

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