Seven years after DEBONEIRE’s launch, this killer combination has resulted in an illustrious clientele, including actor and singer-songwriter Nathan Hartono, actor Ayden Sng, and Christian Barker, Editor of The Rake Magazine. And that doesn’t even cover his features on Singapore Tatler, August Man, and Singapore Fashion Week.
Matthew’s vision of adventurous elegance results in ensembles that are more than just suits and three-piece looks: they are singular declarations of personal identity and style. As part of THE LABEL SG’s inaugural cohort of designers, DEBONEIRE elevates what it means to be a Singaporean label, taking Singapore’s menswear to heights previously unreached and unexplored.
Tell us the story of how DEBONEIRE was born. What inspired you to start DEBONEIRE and how did it unfold?
Coming from a Software Engineering background, I found myself coding away in isolation, which I began to dread. I guess I had the same idea about the Fashion Industry as an industry outsider back then, about how fun and colourful it is, and I was drawn to the social aspect of it. I dipped my toes in with a course at TaF.tc to understand the industry and to pick up the fundamentals to start a fashion business. It was daunting, but I wasn’t fazed. I overcame one obstacle to the next, and it became the business it is today.
Is an entrepreneurship life for you?
Absolutely. I have never planned for it to be so, but in hindsight I adapted to it almost like a duck to water. I simply cannot imagine myself living my life any other way.
Every day is different and presents itself a new opportunity & challenge. The great part about that is I have some degree of control over every decision-making process.
What motivates your creative vision? What are you inspired by?
This changes from time to time. Back when we were producing seasonal collections it was about building the DEBONEIRE lifestyle, which compels me to think about how I can approach menswear from a Fashion perspective. Most menswear available here are too classic, or too avant garde. So for me it was about finding that balance, not too boring – not too crazy – and most importantly, it had to have that touch of sophistication.
These days, we’re bespoke – in the sense that it’s completely customised for the individual. From the fit to the construction of the garments to the fabric, depending on the occasion, be it for the office, soirée, or a wedding.
What is your definition of success as an entrepreneur?
“Entrepreneurship” as the world knows it, has been sensationalised by the media. I don’t necessarily see it as sexy as it’s portrayed. It is simply my way of life. Before I had any work experience, nobody would hire me. As a teenager, I once applied to work on the retail floor and did not get the job. So I came to the conclusion that I should hire myself. I went on to acquire the skills to do just that, and have never looked back.
And now, you’ve watched DEBONEIRE grow from your first customer to getting features on Singapore Tatler and Men’s Folio. How has that journey been for you?
It certainly has been rewarding, and to this day nothing thrills me more than to see a client dressed up, beaming with pride in front of the mirror.
What advice would you give to your younger self in this moment of uncertainty?
Keep calm & carry on. Take nothing personally. Learn to accept & live with differences. Breathe
This too shall pass. It always seems impossible until it’s done.
What’s next for you?
Since transitioning from ready-to-wear to by appointment only, people tend to compare us with tailors which leads them to question our price point. Tailoring is only part of what we do, but that’s not all we are. DEBONEIRE is much more than that. We have a 3 month long exhibition planned for later this year, which is a way to immerse people into the DEBONEIRE universe to better understand us – marrying Art, Fashion and Luxury – as you very well described. And also to spread a bit of cheer in these times.