Kang’s Boutique – Gary Lau

Since the early 1990s, Kang’s boutique has been a carefully guarded secret amongst small communities of well-dressed and astute Singaporean women. Lawyers, doctors, taitais and eager young brides in the know have been trooping to designer Gary Lau’s modest tailor shop (first in Golden Landmark, Concourse and now in the Crawford Lane) to be fitted it in one-off, exclusive creations. Although best remembered for his precisely tailored and exquisitely crafted cheongsams, Gary’s range is prolificfrom evening gowns, bridal wear, daily work wear to even quirky and glamorous maternity outfits.

Meet the man behind the dresses.

Unlikely beginnings

Although he started out in the fashion industry at a time when Singapore was fast churning out young designers, Gary’s entry into the sartorial world was far from typical. Upon leaving school in the mid-1980s, he worked as an apprentice in a hotel F&B. The urge to seek a more stable career prompted him to learn a second craft. This new venture, he decided, would be dressmaking.

“I had always excelled in art as a subject in school”, Gary recalls. "And I was also aware of a gap in the apparel market for clothes that really excited me. I decided to learn all I could about dressmaking – from design, cutting, to sewing and finishing touch,” added Gary.

Gary came in top in the Evening Gown categroy in the 1988 Singapore Young Designers’ Award and the rest, as they say, is history.

The philosophy

In the local made-to-order fashion industry, where production is often fragmented between designers, pattern cutters and sewing hands, Gary stands out for his dedication to the basics. Not satisfied with his proven creative flair, Gary relentlessly sought to perfect his grasp of all technical aspects of dressmaking. The aim – to deliver as flawless a product to his customers as possible. This zeal for complete control led him to devote great time and attention to the art of cutting, under the tutelage of a master cutter. Add to that Gary’s meticulous personal supervision of the assembly and finishing of his creations, and the results are dresses that delight his clients for living up to – and frequently exceeding – their expectations of workmanship and sheer visual impact.

“My objectives are simple,” explains Gary. “I always aim to make my clients look younger and slimmer. At the same time I pay close attention to the unique properties of the fabric, to ensure that my design does the fabric full justice.”

Gary is unabashedly perfectionist about workmanship. “To get the best out of my team, I made sure I knew all the steps in the production chain of a garment, so that I can develop and demonstrate specific techniques, if necessary. We do whatever it takes to make the garment perfect and to satisfy the client, regardless of the time needed and the technical challenges involved.”

At the end of the day, his clients’ reports of envious compliments on their dresses are Gary’s best awards. “I want my clients always be the focus of the event,” he says.

Getting dressed by Gary