OK, for those of you who know me – know that I’ve worked in fashion my whole life. From the best designers on the best ramps to the global campaigns – I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing some amazing fashion designers at work. So much so that when I come across someone special, who is creating beautiful clothes & accessories, I simply want to tell the world about them. Such is the case with the uber talented Matthew Gideon from Singapore based fashion label DEBONEIRE. A leading menswear label that’s turning heads and dressing the region’s most style-conscious men.
Here’s what Matthew had to say..
AD: What sparked your interest in fashion?
MG: I found my start as the founder and designer of menswear label, DEBONEIRE, in my pursuit of the perfect emblematic get up to express my individuality and identity.
When I was seventeen, I was unable to find myself the perfect hoodie for my sophomore life on campus. I then started customising hoodies for myself back in 2009. The eye-catching prints and great fit of my custom made hoodie caught the attention of my friends who urged me to establish a streetwear label. In 2014, with the encouragement of my family and friends, I decided to pursue my dreams of establishing my own label.
The concept evolved as I dug deeper and I finally decided that I didn’t want to start yet another label for the masses. I wanted DEBONEIRE to be steeped in integrity and authenticity. Therefore it came to be a luxury menswear label that is crafted to last, and stands for all things elegant. Each garment is the result of hours and hours of hand-stitching and finishing.
The name DEBONEIRE is constructed from De Bon Eire, a nod to the French meaning, ‘of good lineage’. DEBONEIRE’s logo, the Paradise Riflebird, is a rare bird-of-paradise with enviable plumage, and epithetical of a man who is indeed debonair.
AD: When did you decide that you wanted to turn fashion into your career?
MG: Since graduating with a diploma in Software Engineering and entering into National Service, I have diligently done a lot of research and learning from people in the industry. After serving my time in National Service, I even spent months at factories in different parts of the world observing how they worked. I am grateful for all the knowledge I have gleaned that has taken me this far on my entrepreneurial journey in the fashion industry.
AD: Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?
MG: I learned about Fashion Marketing and Merchandising, in between the time I obtained my diploma for Software Engineering and the time I enlisted (for national service), where I learned the entire process from sourcing of raw materials all the way to manufacturing processes, how to effectively manage a garment factory, and finally retail. As for designing, I’ve always had a certain aesthetic flair when it comes to dressing myself up that people liked.
AD: You are known for stunning & well-cut suits for men, what type of advice can you provide our male readers when it comes to selecting the perfect suit?
MG: When shopping online for ready-to-wear (also known as prêt-à-porter or off-the-rack), refer to the sizing guides available on the website. It’s easy to base the measurements off what you already have in your wardrobe that fits you. This way, you won’t have to fear buying the wrong size.
With our bespoke house call service, we always ask our clients their purpose for getting a suit made. Whether it’s for a wedding, for the boardroom, or a new job, these will help us advise suitable materials as well as the construction of the suit.
There are dozens of elements to consider, and then many options to choose from in each element: from buttons, to lapels, to shoulders, to fit, to length… Our personal stylists that show up at your door will assist you in every step of the way of the making of your new suit, and make the process seem less intimidating.
An average bespoke consultation session takes about 2 hours, and if this is your first time getting a suit made, understand that this process requires plenty of attention to detail, and therefore cannot be rushed. We strive to deliver the first fit within 2 weeks, and in most cases, minimal alteration is required thereafter.
AD: What type of advice can you give our female readers about buying the perfect suit for their man?
MG: The best way is still to leave it to him. It’s important that a man is comfortable with what he wears. If it’s his first time buying a suit, stand by him to offer your opinions and to reassure his decisions. Remind him that “A Well Tailored Suit is to Women What Lingerie is to Men” 😉
AD: Where are you drawing your inspiration from currently and how does it feed into your work?
MG: More often than not, I am my own muse. I think of the kinds of situations I would be in, and where I would be enjoying myself, at a party such as a formal gala, or a glamorous ball, even a night out to the bar. I am also inspired by the people I meet, and how I can enhance the way they present themselves. First impressions count, and these are part of DEBONEIRE’s brand DNA- enjoying life, and putting your best foot forward.
AD: What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your label?
MG: The whole experience is a huge lesson in itself. Starting anything from scratch is never easy. Without a formal education in fashion, I didn’t have any idea how hard it would be, and I didn’t have any form of advantage. It’s different from a creative director joining an established fashion house, for example, where there is a brand identity and DNA to build upon. There are established house codes and signatures that could be re-interpreted and re-imagined each season, and core products that could drive predictable recurring revenues, and stores to sell them in. Starting from scratch meant I had none of these, and I had to build them.
AD: What advice would you give to young designers thinking of getting into the business of fashion?
MG: Be prepared to get down and dirty. The saying that fashion is not all glamorous couldn’t be more true. You really need to love what you do, to the point you cannot imagine yourself doing anything else. Everything about the industry is very demanding and cut-throat. The whole concept of starting up a business is already challenge of its own. With that said, though, few things in life allow you to experience the rush of being able to pursue your passion, and the sense of reward that comes with the happiness your creation brings to your consumer who ultimately buys, wears, and loves what you design.
AD: If DEBONEIRE could have any celebrity spokesmodel, who would it be & why?
MG: Justin Timberlake. He’s a man of many talents, charming, classy, full of energy, witty and has a great sense of humour. He even looks great in a suit!
AD: What are your plans for the future?
MG: I am lucky to be able to say that I love what I am doing and I hope to continue for many years to come. I also hope to grow beyond our shores, and to expand the brand to include more product categories.