Dressing well is as innate as good manners. “It is a sign of respect,” says Kelly See, one-fourth of men’s specialty lifestyle store Signet.
Signet opened in Legaspi Village in 2014, carrying heritage brands with quality craftsmanship and a distinct style—favorites of See and his partners Tom Sing, Jason Qua, and Edmond Lim (denim connoisseur who founded Signet’s denim-focused predecessor Lost + Found) who found these brands and artisans throughout their travels. “A lot of the brands we carry have been around for over 100 years and products are still largely made by hand,” they say.
After two years, they realized it was too good to be kept a secret among Manila’s best-dressed men, thus its move to the retail area of Shangri-La at The Fort. “The extra space allows us to better display our products and have a second fitting room to accommodate two people simultaneously. We also wanted to reach to a wider clientele,” they say.
Decked out in dark brown leather and bare wood display shelves with an exposed ceiling and only a painting of a woman’s naked inked torso and the partners’ collection of rare whiskeys as decoration, the merchandise is king. Each piece has an interesting story, a role in menswear history.
The store is divided into two sections. On the right are workwear brands for casual days. It features selvedge and Japanese denim, reproductions of Levi’s from the 40s to the 60s, from the indigo dye to 100% cotton stitching. “For purists who want the best jeans, this is as close as you can get,” says Signet general manager Kevin Yapjoco.
Check out their jackets. Our pick is Baracuta’s G9 Harrington favored by the likes of Steve McQueen. Sunspel makes mesh pique shirts that are slimmer in fit and shorter in length so there is no need for tucking. It’s a staple in James Bond’s wardrobe in Casino Royale. For the gentleman who wears t-shirts, Cheswick bears the long-lost art of felt-prints. For Hawaiian shirts in original vintage prints made of 100% rayon, Sun Surf is the real thing.
On the left side are tailored pieces like suits and everything that goes with them, like Goodyear welted footwear. Signet carries pieces by the best English shoemaker Edward Green, who uses oak soles and quality leather in an impeccable finish. Yapjoco suggests Portland loafers as an alternative to sturdy dress shoes, owing their buttery softness to baby calf leather. Dandies can opt for Farfalla, an Italian slipper brand that also comes in baby calf leather as well as linen or denim.
There’s a necktie for every occasion. Go formal with Drake’s, an English brand that’s lined all the way to the top to give weight and body to the tie. Tie Your Tie, on the other hand, is an Italian brand of seven fold ties which makes the case for dressed-up casual.
Top it all off with hats by Lock & Co. (which may ring a bell as the pre-world destruction top hat of choice in Kingsman), the oldest company of milliners in the world. Signet carries their panama hats as well as fedoras made of rabbit felt.
For the ultimate gentleman’s accessory, there’s Fox Umbrellas. Signet carries their solid stick umbrellas, fashioned from one piece of wood, bent at the handle by applying steam with pressure. Signet offers complimentary personalization where one can have their initials in silver or gold.
Signet’s men favor high rise trousers held up by braces for comfort, which is the core of great style. See wears Albert Thurston button braces while Yapjoco prefers Bretelle & Braces elasticated clip-ons. For handmade belts, check out limited designs by Hidetaka Fukaya, a Japanese artisan based in Italy who makes them with vintage buckles with filigree detailing.
Jackets aren’t sold in finished form. “We tailor to fit,” reasons Yapjoco. For a tropical weather-friendly option, there’s Japanese ready-to-wear brand Ring that uses balloon, a 100% wool fabric weaved in an open way to allow air through. “They are soft-shouldered, no padding. The chest is soft,” Yapjoco points out.
Signet also hosts trunk shows of the brands they carry, wherein some of the world’s best tailors and artisans and the customer collaborate. See says, “The approach becomes more personal and therefore more tailored to their individual character.”
Clothes make the man, and here, today’s gentleman is all the better for it. –Marbbie Tagabucba
Photos by Arabella Paner
Signet is at the ground floor of the retail area of Shangri-La at The Fort, 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.