When I first heard about Secret Armory Bespoke a few months ago I had a feeling that this was the real deal. Eugenio Tidalgo, known as “Mike” amongst friends, is the man behind this discreet tailoring outfit. He has declined interviews with local magazines and doesn’t like to talk about his clients. I convinced him to do an interview and I feel honored that he has granted me this opportunity.
How did you get into tailoring?
Ever since I was young I always had this fascination for tailored garments and its process especially the construction. I studied Theatre Arts for three years but I wasn’t happy with what I was doing so I decided to stop. But in between my college degree I would attend pattern-making classes. I realized that this was not the proper way to learn tailoring and cutting techniques. I worked and learned from different local tailors and found out that they share the same techniques with the tailors in London. I also collected vintage tailoring books to learn the craft. Soon I was practicing this technique in my work as a pattern-maker for some designers.
How did the business come about?
I started making clothes for friends using locally available fabrics and eventually received more clients as a result of referrals. Over time these clients would ask me to use better materials because they liked the level of craftsmanship they saw. That’s when I started to bring in high quality cloths from Europe.
What are the qualifications to carry these sought-after cloths?
As a tailor we have to be aware of certain materials that would suit our technique and ability to create garments. That is why the first requirement of fabric mills is that the tailor should be educated in the proper way of tailoring. Fabric mills will only give you exclusive access to their archives only if they realize you can properly use their products. I’m actually honored and delighted to carry these exclusive fabrics because it means they are confident about the tailoring techniques I practice.
Let’s talk about how you make suits and shirts. Where do you begin?
I start by taking measurements. I then look at the person’s posture; how he carries himself. I also ask about his lifestyle and what are the day-to-day activities of the person. This gives me an idea of how the person will be using the garment in terms of freedom of movement.
I ask the client about the design or the style of the suit. Sometimes we give suggestions on what would be appropriate for certain occasions or body types. We then pick the fabric and decide on the kind of lining and thickness of canvas to be used. Sometimes I do this myself but I let my clients have the option of choosing.
Who are your clients?
My clients are mostly expat businessmen and enthusiasts. They understand the value of bespoke and know it costs a lot more to have it done in other countries. What I offer is a great product at a reasonable price when compared to establishments abroad. True bespoke is relatively unknown here in the Philippines and not something many here would pay a lot of money for.
What does your average day look like?
My days are pretty casual when I’m not working or dealing with suppliers. When I have free time I go out with friends just to get a grip of what’s happening outside the workroom. I also read my tailoring books and magazines. As a tailor I have to know what’s happening around me. This helps me to better understand the different demands of my clients.
What are your plans for the future?
I just want to focus on what I’m doing right now; staying true to the elements of craftsmanship, quality, and authenticity. Eventually when people learn about this the brand will eventually grow and move. I am serious with this craft but I want to keep everything in its normal pace. It’s never a good decision to rush things and watch it progress unnaturally.
My philosophy is about doing what is right; not what’s new or the latest fad. I want to realize my client’s imagination and make something that will last.
Black and white photos provided by Secret Armory Bespoke. If you need to get in touch with them email email@example.com.