This year's Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride happens on Sunday, May 23. The annual celebration marks a decade of classic and vintage style motorcycle owners dressing up, looking dapper, and riding for a great cause.
Founded by Mark Hawwa in Sydney, Australia, the first themed ride united 3,000 well-dressed riders from 64 cities in 2012. The year after, DGR began its support for Prostate Cancer Research, partnered with Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia, and gathered 11,000 riders in 145 cities to raise $277,000 (P13.22 million). The year 2014 saw the number of participants grow to 20,000 across 257 cities and 58 countries. More importantly, $1.5 million (P71.8 million) was raised for men’s health for more partner groups such as prostate cancer foundations in the U.K., Canada, U.S.A., and New Zealand that year.
Since 2012, $27.45 million (P1.3 billion) has been raised by DGR in 107 countries bringing together 340,000 riders from around the globe.
Suits from Salvo Tailors
I first heard about The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride from my buddy, basketball player Nico Salva, who has been absolutely obsessed with motorcycles these past few months. Over the years, Salva has managed to convince me to try things against my better judgement, riding motorcycles included. But for us to ride around Manila all layered up in tropical summer weather with the temperature consistently hitting the mid-30s, we would need serious help with what to wear.
We sought out Bel Salvosa, the woman behind Salvo Tailors, for some sartorial sage advice before we hit the road on Sunday morning. We visited her shop brimming with old world charm hidden away in gentrified Poblacion. As Salvo’s founder and Master Fitter, Salvosa is a seasoned pro at crafting custom made suits for her discerning clientele.
“I worked in a Hong Kong bespoke tailoring company that catered to the international market from 2012 to 2017, studying the technique, the fabrics, and the like,” the 32-year-old tailor shares. “My goal was to bring the technique here to the Philippines and to let Filipinos experience the premium standard of suits at a reasonable cost.”
Salvo came into being with Salvosa’s knowledge and experience leading the way.
"The Savile Row Technique is an intensive method that originated with London bespoke tailoring companies,” Salvosa explains. “The term ‘bespoke’ originated in Savile Row when cloth for a suit was said to “be spoken for" by individual customers. The standard procedure for the technique is to use horsehair for full and half canvas and hand-stitchings from body to buttonholes.”
Crafting suits for movers and shakers
Salvo has tailored suits for a significant number of Manila’s movers and shakers, top athletes, and royalty, both literally and figuratively. Since 2017, Salvosa and her team of experienced tailors have created some of the best suits we’ve seen, a few of them you might even have already caught a glimpse of on ESPN in the past. Even Senator Manny Pacquiao wore one of Salvosa’s creations when he faced off with Mayweather in 2015.
The entire process of creating a Salvo suit is a unique experience in itself. Beginning with selecting the right material from their extensive collection of premium fabrics from all over the world, making up your mind with which swatch to go with may be overwhelming, but the young tailor possesses a gift of reading her customers and knowing exactly how to narrow down the choices to get to the perfect one.
“I have always been fascinated with dressing up men,” she shares. “When I was five, I was already drawing men’s clothes, particularly suits, while other girls my age drew princess dresses. There’s something about the structure and sharp lines that made it interesting to draw.”
Being a woman in an industry built for and dominated by men must be challenging for Salvosa, but so far, she has held her own quite well, gaining the trust and loyal following of her clients because of the impeccable quality of her craftsmanship.
And with that, we let her work her magic on us.
An appropriate suit for DGR
“I integrate classic with modern style,” she says. “I have to apply standard cuts such as British, Italian, and American. As a tailoress, I have to be particular when it comes to construction and design of men’s suits and that’s where we thoroughly incorporate the London Savile Row Technique.
To deal with Manila’s hot and humid conditions, Salvosa selected colors and fabrics that are light and breathable. Choosing the right cloth to match the season is important since the last thing you’d want to be wearing on a motorcycle ride is something that seals in all the heat like a sauna suit.
“Tropical wool or cotton linen are the perfect fabrics for Philippine weather. For the design, I would suggest a two-button, peak lapel with half canvas which will give a classic touch to the sports jacket. A double-breasted waistcoat in shawl or notched lapel and stretched cotton fabric trousers are also good choices.”
While suits are generally a bit restrictive to movement, the materials Salvosa went with were evidently given a lot of thought to help make it easier to get on and off your bike.
The result are these three amazing style options perfect for cruising around Manila even on the sunniest of days.
Tropical yale blue linen sports coat with two-button notched lapel with oat beige cotton stretch trousers
Tropical linen double breasted waistcoat with notched lapel and special lining
Tropical linen double breasted grey checks waistcoat with low v cut peak lapel. Cotton dress shirt
A unique innovation at Salvo is actually borrowed from how tailors back in the day used to do it.
“The traveling tailor concept was originally offered by international tailoring also called trunk shows. Tailors would set up in a venue and invite its clients in the area, where they could exclusively experience quality tailoring service from choosing fabrics, getting measurements, to having fittings that would fit the customer well,” Salvosa narrates.
Throwing it back and having tailors do house calls is not just a luxury but also a lot more convenient and safer. “We came up with this idea because of Manila traffic. What we initially did was to go to clients’ homes or offices to have them choose fabrics, get measurements and do their fittings.
“These days, Traveling Tailor services are also a hit with our customers since most of them are not comfortable with going out because of the pandemic,” she adds. “When visiting clients, we make sure we follow proper safety protocols such as wearing PPE attire and having swab tests. So far, we believe that we are the first in the Philippines to offer these services.”
Salvosa and the good people at Salvo Tailors have mastered their craft but are far from done with becoming better at what they do. “We are continuously innovating our services with different ways of reaching our clients. We have brought our store online and see how we can further improve working with them. We want the Philippines to be known as one of the best suit makers in Southeast Asia as well.”
To find out how Bel Salvosa and her team can put together that suit you’ve been dreaming about rocking, whether you’re on a motorcycle or not, visit www.salvotailors.com or drop them a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit www.gentlemansride.com/2021to find out more about the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and what you can do to bring awareness to men’s health.