Six Keen Crafters &

The Science of Tees

Some like it fitted; some with slouch. Some times thick; in summer, light. Others love a boxy cut; or maybe cropped. Worn by Navy men a century ago and popularised by James Dean, Tee-Shirts has become a daily staple in all of our wardrobes.

Right here at SUNDAYS, our fascination with crafting the perfect tee continues to take priority this season, from choosing the right fabric, the yarn; creating the cut, the neckline, the length and the fit.

Here we ask six keen crafters, each in their own creative niche, their take on the Science of Tees.

Juls, Artist, Royal College of Art, London.

Tell us how you become an Artist. Where did you learn your skills?

I picked up a film camera when I was 15. Then, I knew it was something I like to do for a long time. I majored in Photography in the Visual Communications department in 2002/3.

After that stumbled into a Graphics job, decided to further my studies in Graphic Design but ending up drawing mostly, during my undergrad and postgrad. I think of life as a work-in-progress, everything so far has been learn as I go…

Describe your typical day. What keeps you going?

Recently, I have not had typical days and THIS keeps me going! However, a good day is when I get to go for a late morning swim, then start the work day after and get things done.

Tell us your favourite work.

I get the biggest pleasure when given a wall to doodle on and be paid for it.

What are some your favourite designs and brands?

The prints on the occasional vintage finds, the simplicity of COS, the cool of UNIF, and sure love a Marni, MM6.

Tell us your favourite Tee. What do you look out for in a Tee?

I do look out for the touch and feel of the fabric. Good for the weather. Not sure I understand pockets on T-shirts.

The right cut that compliments, the fabric that gives comfort and one can melt into it.

I love the tee I bought in Chatuchak market (Bangkok) too many years ago; the fabric and finishing I so adore, but maybe without the print on the front and back would be ideal. I now feel silly wearing an angry Mickey.

What’s next for you?

The studio residency at Grey Projects ends mid April. I recently started part time work at Zouk as a Set Design Assistant.

Next will be half a week working on Zouk projects, and the other half to continue exploring my drawing practice. I will follow the flow, let the wind take me to places!

Kaleb, Art Director/Potter StillWares.

Tell us your favourite Tee. What do you look out for in a Tee?

I wear Tees everyday. I have a few pocket tee shirts in plain white, black and grey. Those are my favourite and they are very easy to wear.

I like my tees to be comfortable, easy to wash and crease-free. Soft fabrics and slight variations in details. Nothing over-designed and not too tight so that it doesn’t restrict movements.

Tell us about your latest project, Still Wares!

Still Wares is a creative collaboration between my partner, Tyco and I. We draw upon our range of experience in design, art and science to inform our process and work.

Our influences also stem from our different cultural backgrounds – one Chinese-Canadian and the other Singaporean; and we unite story telling through the objects we create. We make our collections by hand in limited, small-batch editions, lending to the uniqueness and character of each piece.

How did you start pottery? Where did you learn your skills?

I’ve always been interested in making things with my hands. I have a background in graphic design and art directing, so finding ways to express my creative ideas comes naturally. I started learning pottery at a ceramics studio when I started my own design practise.

In 2014, I had the opportunity to further my interests and skills under the guidance of a Japanese master in the ancient pottery town of Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture – an experience that continues to influence my work.

I also draw inspiration from my travel adventures that have taken me to nearly all corners of the world.

Describe your typical day. What keeps you going?

We balance our time between dreaming up new ideas and experimenting with different materials and techniques to incorporate into our work. A typical day at the studio can involve many activities ranging from prep work (wedging; reclaiming) to making (throwing on the wheel; hand-building; turning leather-hard forms) to finishing pieces (kiln firing; glazing).

The making process is lengthy and involves a number of different steps that are critical to successfully produce a finished piece for our collection.

What’s a tee every modern man/woman should have?

A simple plain white tee that is cooling enough for Singapore’s weather, and will withstand the tumbling in the washing machine.

How durable do you think a Tee shirt should be?

I think they should last at least a year or two.

What are some your favourite Tee-shirt designs and brands?

Brands like APC, Uniqlo, Marni, YMC, Norse projects etc. I like a tee shirt that doesn’t get furry with washes.

What’s next for you?

Still Wares is a new creative venture for us and we are only just beginning to explore different avenues and platforms to build our brand and share our work.

We are working towards launching our online shop and planning collaborations with local galleries and retailers to showcase our collections and make our work accessible to a wider audience of discerning clientele.

Vince, Architect, EBON Designs.

Tell us about yourself and your latest project.

I’m the founder and principal designer at EBON Designs. Our latest project with Project Love Asia Foundation is the design of an integrated children’s home in Maesot, Thailand, to house up to 150 children.

How did you start to be in architectural design? Where did you learn your skills?

As with most children, my interest in architectural design started on the playground. When I was living in Pulau Ubin as a kid, I would build miniature houses with mud, twigs and stones.

However, it was during my years in the Art Elective Programme at Victoria School that allowed me to truly explore my interest. I learn from making & failing, and this, I learned from the amazing mentors/teachers I have crossed path with so far in my life.

Describe your typical day. What keeps you going?

I don’t quite have a typical day. Coffee (hah!) definitely!

What’s a tee every modern man/woman should have?

Light weight, well ventilated, no need for ironing, durable to reduce waste and definitely easy to wash.

Tell us your favourite Tee. What do you look out for in a Tee?

Black. low maintenance (no need for ironing), doesn’t get wet marks and drys easily. Design wise, it would have to be a SUNDAYS tee I bought several years back; for day to day wear, my fave is a dry fit tee which a friend helped to buy from Japan.

I like it when it’s fitting and narrow on upper shoulders, tapers to waist but not fitting, short sleeves, round fitted collar and sits slightly past waist in length.

How durable do you think a Tee shirt should be?

Of course I’d like it as durable as possible. Some dry fit Tees that I own, hasn’t fade in colour nor expand in size and I wear them at least twice a week for a couple of years.

What’s next for you?

I intend to have more fun experimenting with tech-crafting in my design and manufacturing process.

Sy Chia, Art Director, Arcade.

Why graphic design? Where did you learn your skills?

Growing up, there was always time to draw and read. I remember sitting beside this really talented classmate in Primary 2, where he was sketching a book for a mutual friend and I went whoa, I would really like to be able to do that! 

That led to a lot of time spent drawing and sketching between classes and back home. I even got caned a lot for that (because Dad thought it was a waste of paper from the printers), so it became a secret habit at some point.

That was pretty fun. Skills are perhaps all about practice, you got to put in the effort to become good and got to love it to become great, the best part of learning is to keep an open mind, whether it’s learning from the people around you or your seniors. 

Tell us about your favourite project in the past year? What keeps you happy at work?

Hmm, it must have been this project we did for Heineken Green Room. My bosses thought of this really cool idea, we called it Original Sound Experiments, and we spent a good 6 months making it happen. It was such an eye-opening experience!

Exciting projects like these make me want to be at work all the time. But of course the people make it even better sometimes – even for socially awkward Sy.

What are some your favourite Tee shirt designs and brands?

COS, APC, Common Projects. Currently really into my brother and I crazy over the bikes now.

Describe the relationship between you and your tees.

Perhaps like how you would describe love for a sibling; both intensely annoying yet somehow, you’re reliant on one another.

How durable do you think a Tee shirt should be?

It should last quite some time, perhaps a couple of years? It’s also very difficult to find a good quality white Tee that doesn’t half-divulge your nipples after a few washes. Somehow they tend to either go out of shape or turn opaque.

Sy wears Tee Mid Sleeve Muscled in Grey

Tell us your favourite Tee. What do you look out for in a Tee?

A plain black T-shirt. Good material, fits well, an easy silhouette. It’s been an advantage as a creative to be wearing Tees, as we are not riddled with business shirts and suits. Tees are staples in all wardrobes, and can be dressed up and down for any occasion.

I look out for Tees that give you a nice frame and is made from a comfortable material. It’s difficult to find something that marries both. Usually I dress in black, white or muted blues. I like clothes to be plain and simple, sometimes with interesting cuts.

What’s next for Sy?

Possibly starting something that benefits some parts of the world with a bunch of friends – we’ve been quite excited doing it together. The rest of it – I’ve not really path out yet actually.

Some day I will definitely go out there into the world and learn a new culture, do something well; get those sterile Singaporean hands dirty with experience. There are many blank pages to be filled!

What’s a tee every modern man/woman should have?

Everyone needs a few good basic Tees. The modern man/woman should also explore basics in interesting textures that represent their attention to details.

Ernie, Co-Owner of Pulse.

Tell us about Pulse Patisserie!

My partners have been in the trade for more than a decade and we came together to create Pulse Patisserie to explore the taste of sweetness in different forms and doses.

We customised cakes, amongst other sugar work and chocolate items. It is always our aim to nurture than to spoil, to pamper and not to overindulge. Why Pulse? Because it’s the rhythmic beat inside us that craves for that simple taste of sweetness.

Why did you start Pulse? Where did you learn your skills?

I’ve always had a sweet tooth and the first pastry that instigated my relationship with dessert was an egg tart. My Grandpa always brought us to Chinatown to have Dim Sums every Sunday, when I was a kid and we would pass by a cake shop where they display amazing cakes with Batman figurines and balloons behind glass windows.

I never had birthday cakes when I was young because my parents celebrated with Mee Sua & red eggs. At some point, I also got tired of my mum’s cooking and so I took it upon myself to learn how to cook. I went to a culinary school and learn the basics of cooking, where the idea of nouvelle cuisine and classical French food struck a chord in me. Ever since then, I’ve worked in various kitchens both in Singapore and USA.

I started Pulse together with two incredible partners, all three of us are French trained chefs, one bakes, one designs and one sells, and it all goes back to one full circle when we create new cakes and flavors.

What would you recommend for first time Pulse customers?

We always recommend our ultimate fudge cake, NAOMI. Moist layers of dense chocolate cake and rich dark Valrhona Chocolate ganache with a surprise of crunchy Royaltine (Hazelnut, Chocolate Paillette Feuilletine) base. It’s a definite treat for all the chocolate lovers.

Describe your typical day. What keeps you going?

I run around everyday like a maniac on sugar high, because I do operations and handle all the marketing and development aspect. Whether it’s designing a collateral, taking photographs, writing briefs and copywriting, running campaigns, meeting with industry partners, I have to be on point all the time.

I drink copious amounts of coffee until my eyelids start to twitch, seriously. Hence, T-shirts tend to be my uniform for most days now.

Tell us your favourite Tee. What do you look out for in a Tee?

I bought this Navy blue Tee a couple of years ago and it’s still fits me like a glove.

Formfitting and not tight. I think it’s important to know the difference of the two and it’s not just a few centimeters.

It’s fitted on the sleeves, 3-4 inches above elbows and makes me look like I go to the gym quite often. Definitely the comfort that it brings for my daily work wear. Nowadays, I wear Tees to work as I need to move around a lot and it’s also very handy when I need to work in the kitchen. Just put on my chef’s jacket and I’m good to hustle.

What’s a tee every modern man/woman should have?

Ultimately, a tee should make you look good. A good tee should make you feel sexier like a good pair of jeans. It highlights your assets and hides your flaws. At the same time, it should feel good almost like a second skin.

What are some your favourite designs and brands?

My wardrobe is very much prep, collegiate, nautical and sartorial all mixed into one. Being in the bespoke tailoring line for half a decade truly made an impact on how I dress myself. Having said that, I still like casual clothing that fits well and not going too crazy with colors.

Like Michael Bastian, his designs are very simple yet pregnant with details. It’s how he puts every look together that makes it seem effortless and still makes a lot of sense. A successful marriage of utilitarian and tailored.

How durable do you think a Tee shirt should be?

Enough to withstand 40-70 washes with minimal fading. Reinforced seams. Can deflect a bullet fired at 830ft / second.

What’s next for you?

I want to grow Pulse into a multifaceted brand. Whether it’s bread, chocolates or weddings, I want to cultivate a business where there is a strong human aspect behind it.

Eventually, I want to go back to cooking, set up a quaint space where I could just cook anything I want for a small group of people. Creating simple and intimate dishes on a whim. Who knows, I might end up doing it in the next couple of years!

Louis, Creative Manager, LEC.

Tell us about what you do at LEC. Your latest project?

I’m a Creative Manager at Limited Edition Concepts. My role is to design and curate the experiences of customers in all of the entertainment outlets by means of branding, spacial design, prop-making and more.

Our latest project is Terra, a South-American inspired roof-top bar set on the Suntec City Sky Gardens. From product offerings, spacial relevance down to venue touch points, Terra’s brand design package has been most complete of our outlets. Response has been good thus far and a following is rapidly growing as well.

How did you start to be in the creative field? Where did you learn your skills?

Not unlike other creatives, I started out defacing much of my school textbooks, tables and friends’ hands with doodles and tattoos.

Describe your typical day. What keeps you going?

A day is comprised largely of tech news & coffee, a lot of research, a little execution work and the rest to digital social obligations. Learning something new keeps me going, whether it’s another medium for design or coding.

Learning helps you open worlds to explore. Never let your occupation dictate the rest of your life, and don’t let society sell you the silly scheme of a career.

Describe the relationship between you and your tees.

T-shirts form the foundation from which my early exploration of style was built.

Tell us your favourite Tee. What do you look out for in a Tee?

Ever the rebel against the test of time and battles of washing, my James Perse T-shirt has yet to fail on comfort or form. Comfort most importantly, followed closely by fit. I like them fitting snugly so it’s not too wide around the waist. 100% Organic combed cotton ideally.

What’s a tee every modern man/woman should have?

Definitely a Crew Neck Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt.

What are some your favourite Tee shirt designs and brands?

Graphically, Mambo has always been one to spark curiosity both in concept and visual aesthetics. Balancing the heaviness of culture with the lightness of humour.

How durable do you think a Tee shirt should be?

It should make sense for each use to cost a reasonable amount before it fails on you.

What’s next for you?

I’m fiddling with Single Board Computers in my free time now, trying to build a central intelligence hub for all my IoT devices to autonomously execute situations.

Also I’m ambitiously attempting to reverse-code an Android app to study coding. So, exciting times for the geek in me.