A ‘Suit Doctor’ patronized by world celebrities including heads of government, top stars
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A ‘Suit Doctor’ patronized by world celebrities including heads of government, top stars
  • By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik, Kim Myeong-keun
  • 승인 2021.07.09 18:55
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Hilton Tailor has now moved his shop to the Millennium Seoul Hilton

The Hilton Tailor has now opened his shop at the Millennium Hilton Seoul. The tailor shop now named “Tailor in Hilton” is on the second floor of the hotel which you can see after the deli shop on the left-hand side as you enter the hotel.

Chairman Hilton Lee poses in front of the Millennium Seoul Hilton hotel in Seoul.
Chairman Hilton Lee poses in front of the Millennium Seoul Hilton hotel in Seoul.

After the deli you come to steps to the second floor where the newly named “Tailor in Hilton” is located.
Unlike at the old location in Itaewon, Seoul, the Hilton Tailor at the Hilton Hotel is very easy of access and has an incomparable large number of advantages to the guests, especially the VIP guests such as the ambassadors and the world celebrities such as top movie stars and singers of the world.

Handwritten signatures of admiration and praise for Hilton Lee, CEO of Hilton Tailor
Handwritten signatures of admiration and praise for Hilton Lee, CEO of Hilton Tailor

Among them are former President Juan Carlos Wasmosy Monti of Paraguay, world-famous tenor singer Lucciano Pavarotti, top star Steven Seagal, and other world-famous celebrities including Mischa Maisky (cellist), Magic Johnson, Julius Winfield Erving, Carl Lewis, Celine Dion, Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, and many more world-famous personalities whose list can go on and on. Yes, Michael Jackson, John Denver, and also other very important persons in the government (including the Heads of Governments), political organizations, business conglomerates, sports stars, movie-TV stars, and singers, were all among his customers.

Chairman Hilton Lee (left) and the world-famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti (seated) pose for the photo.
Chairman Hilton Lee (left) and the world-famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti (seated) pose for the photo.

The list also includes Senators Robert F. Bennett and Jim Bunning of the United States, world-famous Tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Korean top star Choi Bul-am, and world’s leading sports-TV-movie stars such as Magic Johnson, Marcell Henry, Dorwin Payton, and Steven Seagal.

Chairman Hilton Lee (right) takes a picture with the world-renowned cellist Mischa Maisky, one of his long frequent customers.
Chairman Hilton Lee (right) takes a picture with the world-renowned cellist Mischa Maisky, one of his long frequent customers.

Why is Chairman Lee called in his nick name of ‘Suit Doctor’?
The name derives from a common practice in Korea, where anyone who does best and proves a rarest example excelling everyone else is called a ‘doctor.’
Suiting the nickname, Hilton Lee enjoys the full trust of very important persons in Korea and around the world, which is believed to derive from the top quality which he pursues in making man’s suits, fashions, especially formal suits for exceptionally important occasions.

2010 G20 Seoul Summit leaders of 20 countries engage in volunteer activities as security guards (in English) during their visit to Korea.
2010 G20 Seoul Summit leaders of 20 countries engage in volunteer activities as security guards (in English) during their visit to Korea.

When the foreign dignitaries visit Korea, they make it a rule to have their suits made at the Hilton Tailor Shop, which then was located on the busy street in Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.
Chairman Lee has a number of staffers and assistants. However, when it comes to taking measurements of the customers, Lee does it in person.
Chairman Lee personally performs the measurement and supervises the entire process of work until they are completed and delivered.

A commemorative photo with Magic Johnson and former NBA players and his autograph.
A commemorative photo with Magic Johnson and former NBA players and his autograph.

Often, the ‘Suit Doctor’ visits the visiting VVIP at the hotel and takes measure there as the visiting VVIPs have little time they can spend for personal purposes.
“Each suit is a part of myself and I pay the closest possible attention to my work so that my patron will be proud of wearing my suit,” said Lee.
For Hilton Lee, tailoring is his life itself. He has devoted his entire life to making men look best in their suit. This is why he has so many patrons around the world as well as in Korea.

Chairman Hilton Lee (right) poses for the camera with Julius Winfield Erving, a legendary U.S. basketball star.
Chairman Hilton Lee (right) poses for the camera with Julius Winfield Erving, a legendary U.S. basketball star.

Because of such keen attention he pays, his patrons, especially the international celebrities, are known to order a large number of suits after they return to their country after a visit to Korea.
“Hilton Tailor is not a very large company employing tens of employees but one that is composed of dedicated people who have been in the trade for scores of years specializing in their chosen fields,” said Lee.

Chairman Hilton Lee (left) takes the measurement of American former track and field athlete Carl Lewis, the Olympic Gold medalist.
Chairman Hilton Lee (left) takes the measurement of American former track and field athlete Carl Lewis, the Olympic Gold medalist.

Lee stated, “The people working with me are those who try to make our esteemed customers come back to us and order more, sometimes by the dozen.”
Among the strong points of Lee, of which he is often reminded by his customers, is the fact that the suits made at Hilton Tailor Shop seldom change or lose shape even when they are worn for a long time but remain the same.

Ennio Morricone shaking hands with Chairman Hilton Lee (left)
Ennio Morricone shaking hands with Chairman Hilton Lee (left)

There are rumors to the effect that about 100 tailor shops and some of them use ‘decoys’ paying them 50% of the profit to lure customers. Naturally, the extra cost is reflected in the lower quality of the products.
Hilton Lee himself wears suits, very specially made and attracting the attention of many people along with decorative personal accessories such as buttons, rings and even waist belt buckles. Most of them are decorated with extremely expensive real diamonds.

Chairman Hilton Lee (left) meets with Ennio Morricone, a world-famous Italian composer.
Chairman Hilton Lee (left) meets with Ennio Morricone, a world-famous Italian composer.

The Korea Times account of man’s suits in Korea:

According a story written by Andrei Lankov and published by The Korea times on July 10, 2008, Korea, like most countries in East Asia, embraced the Western suit with great enthusiasm. Every Korean urban street during rush hour testifies to the tremendous popularity enjoyed by suits and neckties which over the last few decades have become the uniform of the Korean middle class ― that is, of a majority of Korean males.

A variety of awards, citations and certificates that Maestro Chairman Hilton Lee received in recognition of his service and many good deeds.
A variety of awards, citations and certificates that Maestro Chairman Hilton Lee received in recognition of his service and many good deeds.

Lankov wrote, “But only 130 years ago, the arrival of a Japanese envoy dressed in a Western suit was seen by Korean officials as an absolutely scandalous act. By dressing themselves in the manner of the ``barbarians,'' the Japanese dignitary denigrated himself and could not be seen as a civilized human being any more!”

World-renowned producer Ron Fair takes a commemorative photo with CEO Hilton Lee after ordering a suit at Hilton Tailor, Ron Fair praised skill highly and expressed gratitude with his handwritten signature and drawings.
World-renowned producer Ron Fair takes a commemorative photo with CEO Hilton Lee after ordering a suit at Hilton Tailor, Ron Fair praised skill highly and expressed gratitude with his handwritten signature and drawings.

Excerpts from Author Lankov follow:

Back in the 1880s-90s, donning a Western suit was more a political statement than a fashion statement. By choosing the dress of the ``overseas barbarians'' over traditional attire, a Korean made it clear to everybody that he was on the side of modernity and Westernization, that he was against tradition and conservatism.

The young officials and students who were dispatched by the Korean government to Japan in the early 1880s were also the first to dress according to the then current Western gentlemanly fashion.
Some people insist that the most prominent leader of the reformist party, Kim Ok-kyun, was actually the first Korean to don such attire in public. There are other candidates, too, but all of them were members of the same faction of reform-minded young officials, which was known as the Enlightenment Party.

From left, Chairman Hilton Lee (center) poses for the camera after receiving the Top Brand Prize from the Federation of Korean Journalists in 2014, Chairman Hilton Lee (right) explains the art of making suits to his staffers.
From left, Chairman Hilton Lee (center) poses for the camera after receiving the Top Brand Prize from the Federation of Korean Journalists in 2014, Chairman Hilton Lee (right) explains the art of making suits to his staffers.

Incidentally, the sewing machine appeared in Korea before the Western suit. In 1877 a sewing machine was bought from some Westerners by a prominent Korean diplomat Kim Yong-won who was visiting Japan.
The sewing machine enjoyed great popularity, and until the 1960s remained a prestigious symbol, a sign of family affluence. Its prominence was important: with the exception of Western suits, most of the dress worn by Koreans until after the 1950-53 Korean War was home-made.
For Korean women a sewing machine was a great laborsaving device, and it is not surprising that they took it so seriously.

Volunteer activities as a security and safety control group for the event attended by top leaders from 53 countries in 2012.
Volunteer activities as a security and safety control group for the event attended by top leaders from 53 countries in 2012.

Until the mid-1890s a Korean man in a suit remained an unusual sight on Seoul's streets (and there were virtually no women in Western dress until 1900). The situation changed in 1895 when the surviving members of the Enlightenment Party came to Seoul again.
This time, they were backed with the power of the Japanese army and formed a puppet government.


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