Suit Geek 03 | Through What You Wear You Are Communicating With This World And People Around You

On our third interview for “Suit Geek”, we invited our friend Malik. He was one of those Chinese millennials who study business in the U.S., then an MBA, and would eventually get a job in the investment industry. But a comedic video he randomly did change his life, taking him away from that traditional route and on a new journey. He rose to fame overnight and became an Internet celebrity, known as a “Wang hong”. Now with 2.7M followers on Weibo, he joins us today and shares some of his “Menswear Philosophy” and his very fresh take on gentleman style as a millennial.

“I make short videos, like a ‘Wang hong’.”

“Wang hong,” or internet celebrity, was a phrase originally used to describe pretty girls online, more specifically, “plastic-surgery pretty girls”. Nowadays, “Wang hong” has become a very mature business, with more than hundreds of thousands of people making a living as a Wang Hong. We even have Wang Hong agencies incubating more and more professional, or wanna-be Wang hongs. Although to be a Wang Hong has become a big and lucrative business, that doesn’t mean people take them seriously. 

So when I asked Malik, do you mind being called a “Wang hong”, he answered bluntly, “I wasn’t enjoying it that much at first.”

Malik looks more mature than an average 25-year-old. What normal people would achieve in 8 years, he used only 4. He’s smart, quick, have a clear mind and is eager for more knowledge. He knows something about everything: whiskey, cigars, suits, broadcasting…he even has not one, but two “dressing philosophies”. Talking to him makes you feel that, there is more to life than just a job. No matter what job he does, Malik would still impress you, just by being himself. 

Malik is the future of menswear – a rebel who respects classics, a gentleman who appreciates a pair of trendy sneakers, a millennial who isn’t afraid of being labelled… But most importantly, he seems to know what he is doing, and he does it pretty well.

/On His Very First Suit

Tony Sporano in The Sopranos

“I got my first suit when I was 17, when I was in high school. My uncle needed a host for the opening of his new law firm. He thought ‘why not use someone for the family?’ and gave me the job of host. He said, ‘well now you need a suit to be the host’. So, he gave me 1000 RMB for the job, and I used every penny to buy my very first suit.” 

“That suit was grey, using a shiny fabric, with black lining, kind of like what you’d see in an Italian gangster film, very classic. I still have it.”

“I still remember two of my very good buddies went to buy that suit with me. They helped me pick it. That was probably the most ‘adult’ thing we did, at that age.”  

/On His Journey to Tailoring

“My first tailored suit was actually made at PRINCIPLE M. That was in 2016, I was doing a reality tv show, where I go out and experience other people’s job, like a carpenter, a gym trainer and for the clothing industry, I came to Justin’s shop; Principle M. We met during that show, and then I made my first suit with him.”

“It was a grey suit with notch lapels. That was also the first time I learned that you can add adjustment tabs on your trousers instead of belt loops. Also, that you can make the trousers with a high-rise. My first tailored suit changed everything I knew about suits.”

Grey MTM Harrison’s Frontier Suit

“I used to have the wrong impression on suits, like a stereotype. I thought suits were supposed to make you feel ‘uncomfortable’ because it was too formal or uptight. But after I tried tailored suits, I found the perfect size for myself. Then I learned that customised suits can be what you wear everyday, you just have to make it the right fit.” 

“My grandpa and my dad were my original [suit] role models. My grandpa had more than 100 suits. I remember he was always so dressed up in a nice suit. I remember in the summer, he’d wear this full white linen suit, leather woven loafers and a Panama hat. My dad loved suits, too, and those Cuban collar Polo shirts. When I was young, I’d think that clothing was for old people. Now I think to my self…you know what they had? They had STYLE!”

“I really want to have a ‘suit picture’ with my dad, that’s on my bucket list.”    

I feel like younger people like me who want to wear suits or who like gentlemen style might not have the highest disposable income. So, if you can’t afford a nice suit at first, you could start with a nice customized shirt, or pair of suede loafers.”

 “Good suits are supposed to be expensive. They’re suits that are affordable but with shitty quality. I can’t see what’s the point in buying them. Cuz at the end of the day, it’s just a waste of money.” 

Drappers MTM suit

/On His Daily Style

“In New York, especially on Wall Street, it’s very common to wear a suit & tie. But back in China, if you wear that everyday, people would think you’re weird. Especially in the industry, I’m working in where 90% of the time I’m communicating with others. I want myself to look approachable and not too rigid.”

“I believe that, by/through what you wear, you are ‘communicating’ with this world and people around you. If you are too insisting on something, you’re actually going against it. And if you push people too hard to wear a suit or too hard to be a fan of something, you’ll end up contradicting it.”

“But I love what I love – and I love wearing suits. So, I developed my own philosophy:

Malik’s ‘Menswear Philosophy’ No.1:

“For your outfit, you only need one or two pieces to represent your style.”

“Wear a nice suit or just a jacket, or a hand-made suede loafer, and the rest you can match it with whatever you want. People who know this stuff [good clothing] will be able to tell and that you care about what you wear. People who don’t know this stuff, won’t think it (what you wear) is too much of over the top.” 

Malik’s ‘Menswear Philosophy’ No.2:

“If I was going to wear a suit today, I’d pair it with something more casual, to tone it down a bit.”

“Like a white t-shirt, a slouchy shirt, or jeans—these can all match with a suit or jacket. Back in the day, men wore suits almost every day. Now, even though times have changed, you can still wear suits in daily life, just add some more casual elements.

“If I was going to attend a business meeting, I’d wear a full suit, with a tie, then follow my philosophy- wearing a pair of easy-going loafers instead of leather oxfords.

“As for my off-work style, I don’t mind pursuing something fashionable. I collect some of those fancy sneakers, they can be styled with suits, too.”

“I also find that black and white sneakers from brands like Nike, Puma and Adidas match pretty well with some suits.”

/On His Favourite Pieces

I really like ties, but ties are a rather formal accessory. So, if I were to wear a tie, I’d throw on a more casual jacket to follow my philosophy.”

“One of my favourite pieces is a vest. It’s always the highlight of an outfit. When I’m putting on a bit more weight, it can also help cover my belly, haha. I love my vest!”

“My second favourite piece is a pair of brown loafers, goes perfectly with everything.”

/On His Lifestyle

“I like whisky. Each year I try to collect a bottle of whisky that shares the same age with me.”

“I don’t smoke cigarettes; only cigars. I have a ‘cigar break’ everyday, when I give myself some ‘me’ time to think and relax—like meditation. When I was in New York, I went to this cigar bar where you could see a lot of 40 or 50 year-olds sitting around, 2 to 3 gentlemen together, or just sitting there alone, enjoying a cigar. Nobody was checking their phone. I really like that feeling.” 

My favourate cigar is Montecristo No. 2

“Some people—aficionados—like whisky, or cigars, they can taste every note, or even suits. I never go too deep, though.”

“When you go too deep or too far into something, you’d just lose the fun of it. I want to take control of what I love, not being controlled by it.” 

“I also love reading. I read 78 books last year, usually functional reads, like books about management or business. I’d set a goal for myself every period of time, for example, if I want to learn about broadcasting, I’d spend six months dedicating to books about broadcasting.” 

“I don’t really like novels, never liked it. But I also know about one thing- never be too sure of something, haha. Maybe one day I’ll like novels.”

“This interview is fun! I’ve never done any interview on men’s style. It’s usually about what I do, or my job. This is a first.”

Interviewer: Justin

Writer: Carrie

Photographer: Adora

Produced by PRINCIPLE M

Follow Malik on Weibo: @马克Malik

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