Cut from a Different Cloth

Brandon Chan: The Bohemian Archetype

When do you dress your best? When do you bring out your suits, your black ties, your ultimate fashion sense?

It’s when you need to impress an audience.

Do people go in jeans and t-shirts and baggy pants and sneakers to the Oscars? To a wedding? To that much talked about gala dinner?

No. Because we want to be taken seriously. How you dress is a reflection of yourself … and your work ethics and your desire to excel.

In our style section, we search for some of the best dressed CXOs and give our readers glimpses in to the life of corporate dressing and its finest.

If you had met Brandon Chan, CEO of the Malaysian Rubber Council, a couple of years ago outside work, you would have found him in shorts and tees. Today, his days are filled with meetings aimed at growing Malaysia’s rubber global market share. Despite this, his emphasis on comportment is absolute.

He takes us back in time to a year that completely changed his outlook. “It was during a friend’s wedding” he shares, “and I had experimented by commissioning a traditional but personalised slim fit Baju Melayu. What immediately struck me was the difference in how I was perceived. And this marked my first real foray into the world of style.”

This defines the soul of his style today – featuring outfits tailored by the best local designers. He takes a conventional suit and turns it into a vibrant bohemian yet formal blend, making it look both professional and chic. “I have a team of stylists, who assist me in making sure that I am at the top of my game. They know what I like, and what I am trying to do and they help me bring that vision to life.”

One of the common misconceptions about a formal outfit is that it has to include a tie, but that’s simply not the case. It can amplify your outfit but its okay to do without. Today’s formal style trends follow a “less is more” characteristic which, done well, is more than enough for any formal occasions.

When asked about conformity versus breaking out of the mould of traditional styling, Brandon is of the opinion that worrying too much about what other people think, will not do anyone any good. “If you always worry about what people say, you will never step out of their shadows. ”That, he adds, “is the essence of confidence”. This will eventually translate to the work you do in bringing better results.

Brandon’s advice to our readers can be summarised in four words “To each their own”. His advice is based on understanding your body and being comfortable with it. Only then, can you emphasise the best version of yourself. For executive leaders, he suggests seeking professional advice at least once in your life.

Standing against a rubber tree, dressed in a slim-fit pastel blue suit, white shirt and sneakers, Brandon demonstrates how one can be formal and casual at the same time. While a sneaker – suit combination is a contentious issue among men’s style aficionados, the key to pulling of this look is to be subtle with the colour, material and shape of the sneakers. Avoid oversized shoes and let the colours match with the rest of your outfit.

Following the age-old adage of putting your best foot forward, first appearances are vital. Especially in the corporate world, more so for leaders – how you present yourself will either inspire confidence or prompt scepticism. As an ambassador to the company, Brandon finds it worthwhile to be suitably attired at all times. We couldn’t agree more.

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"Most live up to the expectation of others, I am different in the sense that I live up to the expectations of myself. I set the standard"
Brandon Chan, Chief Executive Officer, Malaysia Rubber Export Promotion Council

Brandon embodies the definition of a self-made man, reflective in the way he carries himself. From the quiet attention he pays to his staff, to the deliberate consideration he gives to the documents that slip through his fingers. Each and every action seems driven by careful thought, in both character and comportment. And that also sums up his fabulous sense of style. “People judge you by the way you dress and carry yourself. Like it or not, that’s the reality of life and the inherent truth of the human psyche. “says Brandon Chan.

Corporate dressing is an integral part of presenting the corporate culture of a company. In an era where t-shirts and jeans seem to try wheedle their way into the boardroom, we say bring back the era of suits. Bring in the Mad Men of halcyon days when suits were stylish and impeccable, as were the men and women who donned them. Here’s to power dressing that shrugs off conformity and roars “I have arrived” or “I am getting there soon”

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