Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Different Kind Of Addiction Amongst Band Boys

(Image: Japanese ladies and men doing the twist in Toray Tetrex material. An advertisement from The Straits Times: 12th January, 1966 p 4.)

In the mid 60s there was a different kind of addiction amongst the band boys in Singapore. The addiction had nothing to do with drugs, cigarettes, alcohol or pretty ladies. What was it then? Whenever a pop group had a new contract at a certain nightclub or when they were soon to appear in an exclusive year-end pop show, the boys would get together and telephone their favourite tailor shop, either at Sam's in Tanjong Katong or Danny's at East Coast Road, made an appointment and hurried to their destination. (There were other places of course but these two tailors were the most popular.)

And the addiction? The boys would get new outfits done but using only a certain Japanese material that was at the top of the hit parade. The fabric, as I knew it, was made of polyester. One could jive in it, twist in it, shimmy in it and yet put it on again days afterwards without having to iron the outfit. Magic material it was and as the advertisement said, the "knife-sharp creases" stayed. It was popular with the boys because it was wrinkle free. And you know how destructive young band boys could be with their shiny suits after a hard day's night!

According to the above advertisement, "a suit or slack made of Toray Tetrex just won't wrinkle. Short of swimming across the Straits you can be as active as you like in TT and end up looking impeccably neat. Drive all day, dance all night. squirm, bend, stretch, play... your suit will look as fresh, as fashionable as the day you put it on. Wash and wear too, and as comfortable as a cool shower. Is it any wonder most fine tailors recommend..."

But there was a problem with this material. Singapore's hot weather literally made the band boys sweat in their TT slacks and jackets. I remember a phrase I used very often when we performed on stage, "I am raining inside!" We were thoroughly soaked under our clothes. And the song, Just Walkin' In The Rain would have been an appropriate song.

Comment anyone? Is this material out of fashion? I spoke to a well-known tailor in North Bridge Road and he told me that this fabric is hardly used now. Is this true fashion buffs?

"A white sports coat and a pink carnation, I'm all alone in romance..." Anyone remember songs with outfits as themes? Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis Preskey), Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (Bryan Highland), These Boots Are Made For Walking (Nancy Sinatra), and Forever In Blue Jeans (Neil Diamond).
(This article is not meant to advertise nor degrade Toray Tetrex.)

Original article: Andy Lim.

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