Realising a tailor-made dream

James Kon

After finishing his degree for Environmental Studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Hazwan Suhaini, 27, made good use of his time to chase his dream of making men’s suits while waiting for his convocation ceremony.

Following his passion, Hazwan joined the sewing course at the Youth Development Centre under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports for a year in 2018. The aspiring young tailor went from house to house to carry out his business before opening own his home-based business. Some of his clients included local stars Fakhrul Razi and Kip Hafizuddin who have had custom-made suits by him.

Hazwan’s hard work paid off when he was provided a place of his own at Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium as part of the incubation programme of the Youth Development Centre.

He also created his own brand called ‘Gentleman Stitch’.

“My passion actually came from a movie that I watched, Kingsman. I noticed that the characters in the movie were wearing good, fitted suits.

Ever since then, I want to try a new style of gentlemen’s suits,” said Hazwan in an interview with the Bulletin.

Hazwan Suhaini, owner of Gentleman Stitch, during an interview with the Bulletin. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS

“At the end of my final year, I decided to join a sewing course at the Youth Development Centre in Tanah Jambu after getting some valuable advice from my mother.

“I took a one-year course of sewing comprising a six-month attachment. During the six-month course, I learnt the basic skill of making shirts, Baju Cara Melayu and jubah.

“During my attachment at Kava, one of the local fashion brands, they brought me to the KL Fashion Week in 2018. After I returned to Brunei, I started to learn more about design. I also attended a youth business talk organised by Pengiran Kamal Ghadafi who is my mentor currently.”

Asked about the first clothing that he made, Hazwan said, “I started to make Baju Cara Melayu, Kurta and vests, which were my ready-made products.

“I faced some hardships when I tried to make a suit for the first time. This prompted me to continue upgrade my skills through books and YouTube. As I own a shop now, I plan to hire workers to expand my business,” he said.

As Hazwan also worked as a sewing teacher at the Prisons Department and Pusat Bahagia, he learnt to manage his time.

“I teach students with different abilities and from there, I learnt sign language.

“With that skill, I can communicate with customers who use sign language. I work 16 hours per day. However, when you are doing something that you love, you do not consider it as work. This motivates me to push this business forward.”

On the important role that Youth Development Centre has played in helping him to pursue his career, he said, “The centre helps me to realise my dream. Ever since I graduated in 2018, they keep track of my business and gave me this place to carry out my business. They play a very significant role in helping the local businesses.”

During a speech at the opening ceremony of the Gentleman Stitch earlier this month, Hazwan was in tears while delivering his speech.

Asked about his emotional speech, he recalled, “I was touched by my father’s effort in supporting my career.” He said that his father, who is a renal patient, made the wooden cutting table and cabinet with him. “Even though he is sick, he was willing to help. My father is currently working at the Ministry of Religious Affairs. He worked on the cabinet after work with me. I was really touched by his support. He would even work after his renal dialysis.”

Imparting some advice for youth, he said, “If you have the passion to pursue your goal, you should do it. Manage your time properly and learn the skills to turn your passion into a business. This will improve yourself and change your life. Keep doing what you love and do not depend on the government only.

“Do your best and Allah the Almighty will do the rest.”