Photograph by Pat Mateo
Style Style Profile

6 questions for Kelly See, the clothier of Manila's dapper set

As one of the owners of menswear boutique Signet, Kelly See travels the world to bring luxury clothing, craftsmen, and tailors to the Philippines.
Aurelio Icasiano III | Oct 14 2018

Anything that has to do with fine menswear has to do with Kelly See. That’s mostly how it is with him. From the suits to the hats to the gentleman’s trifles, there’s never anything out of place. Since becoming one of the founders of Signet—a specialty boutique that deals in luxury apparel, bespoke tailoring, and fine accessories—Kelly has helped shape the landscape of Philippine menswear in the few years that the company’s been around. 

Before Signet, there weren’t too many options for heritage brands, and there were even less for international bespoke tailors. But now, at the turn of each quarter, you’re likely to see familiar names posted on the shop’s windows: Cifonelli from France, Ambrosi and Dalcuore from Italy, Spigola from Japan—all with handsome reputations from the worldwide bespoke community. Lining the shelves are hats from Lock & Co, umbrellas from Tallarico, polos from Luca Avitabile,  denim from Resolute, casuals from Orlebar Brown—each one being some of the finest examples of their particular craft. 

@thesignetstore on Instagram

But what makes Kelly different from any other clothier is the amount of attention he pays to each brand the boutique carries—learning its history, knowing how to carry himself in them, and traveling to where they’re made to see the craftsmanship that goes in them (and just as often purely out of personal interest). It’s precisely this interest that leads him to seek out these people and bring them to the Philippines.

As one of the people behind Signet, your work has taken you to places that are renowned for a particular art. Which cities/towns have you visited for this purpose and which art did you discover in them?  

Florence, Naples, and Milan—mainly for their tailors. 

How did you begin traveling for Signet? What is it like to scour the world for the best sources of men’s style?

By visiting tailors and the bi-annual Pitti Uomo tradeshow in Florence. You get to meet artisans and craftsmen who are really passionate and skilled in what they do. You understand their way of thinking, way of life.

@pitti_uomo_ on Instagram

Tell us more about your travels to Naples. What makes the place special?

The light touches objects differently and brings colors to life. I visited various tailors such as Dalcuore and of course, Panico, who is a living legend.

Describe the Neapolitan lifestyle. What  does it mean to be Neapolitan and what aspects of it made the biggest impressions on you?

Plenty of espresso and hours-long dinners. It’s about enjoying life in the company of family and friends.

What’s the tailoring scene like?

Naples has a lot of sartorias both big and small.

Which places in Naples would you recommend to see in particular?

Matuzzi, Positano, and Capri on a boat. 

@stella_it on Instagram

This article first appeared in Vault Magazine Issue No. 24 2018.