In the past, fashion consulting in the United States, Japan, and Korea has strongly contributed to domestic commerce and economic growth. Recently, however, interest in fashion consulting has also grown in Vietnam.
Hoc Bui belongs to a small, influential group of fashion consultants specializing in Gent-style in Vietnam. Today, his clientele list, comprised of individuals from places such as Korea and Japan, exceeds 50.
A Gent-style lover, Hoc Bui is eager to share his passion with a broader audience in Vietnam. Join Vietcetera in learning more about Gent-style and Mr. Bui’s path to becoming a Gent-style consultant in Saigon.
For those who aren’t familiar with the ‘Gent-look,’ can you describe what this fashion style is about?
Gent-look is shortened for gentleman-looking and originated from Europe and Italy. It incorporates a contemporary and classic culture in fashion that I’d like to share with Vietnamese men, specifically in Saigon. Most, including white-collar workers, don’t know how to take care of themselves properly. I have a vision to change their mindset with this style.
How did you learn about Gent-style in 2016 and what prompted you to start pursuing fashion consultation as a career?
I researched on Instagram and fashion websites to learn about fashion trends. They ranged from everyday basic, minimalism, to mix-and-matching with layouts. My friend Thien Minh, a photographer, also inspired my fashion style. In the early stages of developing my own fashion style, I chose minimalism. My outfit was rather simple, with only two to three colors so that it wouldn’t seem too flashy. As my fashion style evolved over time, I would apply what I learned from looking at reputable fashion resources to my daily look.
What was the process of establishing your own brand image like? How do you differentiate your ‘look’ or style from other fashion consultants for men?
I already envisioned myself pursuing classic menswear from the beginning. It’s a fashion style that is still uncommon in Vietnam, especially in Saigon. Many people would follow mainstream trends, luxury brands, or unisex fashion. Meanwhile, I love a fashion style that is classical, and at the same time, nostalgic. I would like to introduce this style to the Vietnamese people.
I wasn’t financially able to afford tailored clothes back then, so I opted for ready-to-wear items, such as white dress shirts with jeans from Zara. I also applied the knowledge I’d learned from the internet into my fashion style. Later in my career, I had the opportunity to work with a shoe brand, which gave me an opportunity to wear perfect-fit tailored suits. I also continue to keep myself up-to-date by following and learning from Italian fashion bloggers.
My passion for gent-looks grew over time, and I want to share the amount of knowledge I’ve gained with other people. I want the Vietnamese to own individualistic perspectives and thoughts on this fashion style.
When thinking of the term ‘gentleman,’ people will usually think of Colin Firth from the movie Kingsman. Would you say his character in the movie is the ideal gentleman? If not, how would you define ‘a gentleman’?
You can look at Colin Firth from Kingsman in two ways. Those who regard Colin Firth as a gentleman based on his look and clothing are making a huge mistake. That’s only his outer appearance, meaning we have overlooked three crucial elements: attitude, manners, and actions. Colin Firth once affirmed in Kingsman that “Manners maketh man”, not necessarily his clothing or fashion style.
In fact, clothing only accounts for 50 percent of becoming a gentleman. The rest lies in behaviors, lifestyle, and attitudes towards family, friends, significant others, and colleagues. To become a gentleman, we could begin with being more mindful of our attitudes, words, actions, and the way we interact with others. We need to surround ourselves with a network of people that fits our mindset. Only then can we learn to be humble and wiser with our words and thoughts. Slowly, we will move on to changing the way we dress as well.
Where do you see the Gent-style community in Saigon at the moment?
From what I have observed, businessmen [in Saigon] view suits simply as products made by tailors and don’t really care about the process. In northern Vietnam, there is a community for gent-style, but it is still a strange concept in the south.
Not many people would follow this style on a daily basis. They only wear a suit to formal events such as business meetings or academic conferences. It’s a rare sight to see Vietnamese men willing to put on a suit to go grab a coffee or attend a casual occasion, especially with the hot weather in Saigon. However, if people are passionate about suits and equalize wearing blazers to wearing a jacket in order to block UV rays, they would wear it more often.
How are you planning to help expand this community? Is this the reason you joined LandedVibe as a host in Saigon?
I hope to share my personal insights on Gent-style to whoever is willing to learn more. I’m currently sharing my personal brand and knowledge through social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram. It’s also the reason why I decided to become a host on LandedVibe, allowing me to share my graceful profession and passion.
What would you recommend to young men who are looking to transform themselves through Gent-style?
The first thing they need to do is to change their mindset and behaviors. Don’t think about the clothing part yet. Transforming yourself through your actions, behaviors, and lifestyle comes first, then comes clothing.
What advice do you have for those who want to pursue Gent-style consulting as a career?
It is almost mandatory that you have passion to pursue a fashion consultant career. First and foremost, you need to ask yourself if you are truly passionate.
For me, each individual is unique, and no one is a replica of another individual. It can be seen as an absurd imitation of others, trying to mold yourself into something you’re not. Only passion can genuinely change one’s awareness and mindset.
Hoc Bui is currently offering a one-on-one consultative chat on Sartorial-Gentlemen style in Saigon through LandedVibe. It will be a two hour session in which he will walk you through the history of Gent-style and provide a specifically-tailored image consultation. If you’re interested to learn more, please visit his activity on Landed-Vibe.