Welcome back to #GQStaffStyle, a peek inside our coworkers’ closets.
Buying clothes in 2021 can feel a little haphazard, what with the avalanche of drops and capsule collections and collabs and bottomless etailers. You probably do most of it while The Bachelorette or Ted Lasso murmurs in the background. But it’s worth remembering that you can still buy clothes IRL! That you can go to a store and roam, touch, get a little smitten, maybe get a second opinion (possibly unsolicited) from a stranger. Point is, even in 2021 there’s a case to be made for the physical act of buying clothes, and the prosecution is led by GQ commerce editor Yang-Yi Goh and his custom shirting, expertly chosen and crafted in Singapore, and threaded with a family story. As he tells it:
“For decades now, all of the men in my family have had their dress shirts made at CYC—an 86-year-old bespoke shirtmaker that’s a bit like Singapore’s answer to Charvet.”
[Editor’s note: If you don’t know Charvet, it’s thee legendary shirt manufacturer, founded in Paris in 1838 and known for shirting everyone from Alexis de Tocqueville to JFK to Barack Obama. You could say it’s the CYC of France.]
“I remember going to their shop inside the beautiful old Raffles Hotel with my dad to have my very first shirt made when I was 11, and marveling at all of the options available: hundreds of fabrics, a dozen different collar shapes and cuff styles, every size and color of button imaginable. The absolute raddest thing, though, is that they’re able to monogram Chinese characters, which means all of my family’s shirts have our surname stitched into the cuffs.”
The whole damn thing—the flying, the hotel, the history, the ritual, the being there—is what makes these shirts special. And then you add in the amusement park of possibility that is bespoke shirting: “You get to leaf through all these books of gorgeous fabrics and threads and buttons and decide what’ll work best together, which felt especially exciting and cool to me as a kid,” explains Yang. “It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to being a clothing designer.”
(On that subject, if you’re inspired to get your own custom shirts—at CYC, or another country—Yang has some advice: “You’ll have a strong urge to overcomplicate things and go buck wild with loud patterns and bright buttons. Resist that urge. Make yourself the perfect white dress shirt to start, and keep the details subtle.”)
That shirt above? It’s one of four custom CYC shirts in Yang’s rotation—itself a decade old, but still proudly carrying the Goh name on its sleeve. Yang’s father sometimes has CYC work from his measurements and then ship over freshies (as with any good shirtmaker, files are kept). But Yang only ever gets his CYC pieces made in person. “I’m definitely overdue for a re-up,” says Yang. “I’m stoked to hopefully get back over to Singapore next year and order a few more.”