Prologue began with an idea that good tailoring needn’t be flamboyant nor exaggerated and must be purpose built for the occasions or environments it was intended for. Considering Hong Kong’s typically sweltering and humid environment, the house cut began with stripping away construction to reduce the weight of typical Hong Kong tailoring with the removal of the chest piece, shoulder pads and lining. This is reminiscent of southern Italian tailoring with Naples being most famous for jackets that feel like cloth thrown over one’s shoulders. To an extreme however, this can appear disheveled and unkempt, and will often be considered unprofessional for the salaryman.
As such, the jacket fronts had to be pared down while retaining some visual interest. This moves the house style further north to Florence, renowned the world over for its symmetrical fronts and sweeping quarters that, when combined with a classic jacket length, elongates the body while leaving enough of the trouser visible so as not to shorten the leg line. The last piece of the puzzle draws from Asian tailoring heritage with precision and intricate finishing. Redolent of the Shanghainese qipao, pick-stitching, bar-tacks, and buttonholes are painstakingly sewn by hand to assemble, reinforce, and decorate garments bearing the Prologue marque.
Collectively, the above defines the first version of the Prologue cut with reducing weight and structure to a bare minimum becoming the primary focus. This obsession with minimising weight introduced a number of compromises – beginning with a featherweight canvas that offered remarkable spring, but lacked give, displaying ease or drape with deep, sharp folds. Combined with the removal of domettes and wadding, the canvas relied on machine stitching to attach to fine cotton fabric, which would help prevent stray hairs from piercing through linings and grazing the wearer’s flesh. This canvas preparation meant that the jacket fronts tended to be relatively stiff despite their light weight and at times appeared to lack the fluidity of beautiful tailoring.
Without much body, the canvas also did not allow shoulder extension, and structured sleeveheads would droop. As such, the early shoulder relied on an interpretation of the Neapolitan manica camicia, which turns the sleeve and shoulder inlays inward to the top of the wearer’s shoulder joint with a generous sleevehead that splays over the deltoids. At the time, a lower buttonstance was preferred and so the central button was positioned close to the navel to reduce the visual length of the torso. This also tended to require a mismatched hip pocket height from the jacket’s bottom buttons.
Another uncommon feature in Hong Kong at the time was the gorge line that featured an exaggerated concave curve through to the lapel, often exhibiting a slight pagoda uptick at the endpoint. Such flourishes made Prologue garments fairly striking, and clients often quipped the clothes were better suited to senior management and executives than typical employees.
This thought soon stuck with us and the next evolution in our house cut sought to reel back on extravagance and improve on the aforementioned compromises. Work began with the development of a natural shoulder that would not compromise comfort for neater appearance, but this ultimately required the addition of a lightweight domette and a thin strip of sleevehead wadding, going against the core principles of the first cut. This decision came at the behest of many clients who had fallen in love with the comfort of Prologue jackets and the range of motion they offered.
However, as coatmakers grew accustomed and refined the new shoulder construction, it not only changed the minds of some older clients but attracted more gentlemen new to custom tailoring. This exercise in ubiquity determined a new direction for the Prologue cut that toned down what stood out before to focus on fit. Thus began the semi-bespoke programme that begins with raw measurements, involves a fitting to finetune the balance and proportions of garments on each body, and ends with a beautifully tailored garment.
In its current incarnation, the Prologue house style has matured to favour a more modest yet masculine silhouette. Standard jacket length has been increased to reach the end of the thumbs for a length that is sure to cover the seat, while the quarters have been straightened ever so slightly from the buttoning point. Furthermore, the jacket balance has been shifted with a longer back balance that keeps the collar tight up against the neck and prevents the quarters from falling backwards. The shoulder line is now extended well beyond that of the initial cut to increase the wearers’ breadth – that together with a swelled chest enhances the appearance of the coveted inverted triangle silhouette, even with slightly reduced waist suppression. The former uptick of the lapel has now been changed to droop slightly for reinforced retro details.
In terms of details unseen, the body canvas has been completely overhauled with a substantial linen canvas from Milan that has enough heft to shed wrinkles, drape gracefully, and glide fluidly. Finally, finishing all around has been improved with blunted corners and lapped seams abound.
Our formula has remained much the same over the last four years save for minor iterative refinements from changing tastes and preferences. Whilst we once prioritised minimal weight and softness beyond compare, we now appreciate the three dimensionality a small amount of sleeve wadding and more substantial canvas can offer. Though we once favoured a figure hugging silhouette and contemporary just-right length, we now admire the easy elegance of moderate drape, classic length, and perhaps even the slightest break.
This is not to say that the Prologue cut has reached its pinnacle as it is ever-evolving when new and better ways to execute things are discovered, taken apart and incorporated.