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Stylish men at The Peak | David Leong, CEO of Straits Trades Incorporated: “I have over a hundred cufflinks.”

When it comes to accessorising an outfit, Leong ditches ties for eye-catching cufflinks and belts.

David Leong wears many, many hats. Given his snazzy sense of style, we could have meant that literally but the founder of People Worldwide Consulting is also a man with experience in incredibly diverse fields of business. He’s set up employment agency Manpower Corp International, launched a portal and mobile application known as mKU that lets professionals share business and career opportunities, partnered the Ministry of Manpower on another app providing mobile solutions to foreign workers in Singapore, and is currently busying himself with Straits Trades Incorporated, a consulting firm that focuses on acquisition, merger and investment solutions. And all while looking sharp, to boot.

I have a rebellious predisposition.

This is in relation to fashion and its repetitive cycles, because I dislike groupthink. Instead, I’m fascinated with tailoring. I like experimenting with different collars – from classic to British and Italian spread – button thickness and button hole threads. Which is why my shirts must stand out: crisp, sharp, fitted and a statement on their own.

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I have over a hundred cufflinks. 

I have them in various sizes. The ones I fancy most are those with infinity loop or knot designs. Since I no longer wear ties, cufflinks and belts in different permutations are what excite me before I start my day.

I don’t have a style icon. 

However, I’ve always been fascinated by The Godfather, so watching those suited gentlemen with their high Italian spread collars inspired me to do the same.

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I am impervious to fashion seasons.

Nonetheless, I do like contemplating their changes. I take what I like from each season and fuse them with my own ideas at the tailor, such as the way the peaked lapel should point, where the pockets will be and at what angle. It’s no different in business – I look at changes, take the best from each transformative phase, and keep moving.

Part of my good fortune comes from doing things most people don’t want to do, and finding the best way forward. I have businesses in human resources, IT, technology and even corporate finance and each is vastly different, but going deep and wide into each category spurs me to keep learning. I create my own space and then I thrive in it.

You’re a leader when others emulate you.

Being copied is the best flattery. As Lao Zi said, the best leader is one whose existence is barely known by the people he leads. True leaders will guide without force, to the extent that you think you are making your own choices; they will retire to the background once things are done.

The key to making a great first impression?

Having a glow in the eyes that give off positive energy, paired with a big, broad smile that lifts up the entire face – this is my magic combination. My smile inevitably invites other smiles and rapport with people will be made.

Anything that appeals to the senses is based on a suite of subliminal details.

Whether it’s a business idea, a piece of furniture or a suit, it’s the details that make all the difference. Every stitch that pulls things together must be meticulous and dealt with care, and a good leader can stitch together shareholders, stakeholders, staff, professionals and customers into a working unit.

My biggest fashion faux pas?

Probably a red pants and white shirt combination I once wore to a relative’s wedding when I was a teenager. I still get teased about it.


  • TAILOR-MADE

    Leong experiments with details at the tailor to ensure his clothes stand out. The lapis lazuli bracelet stand in for Buddhist prayer beads when he is stressed. Shoes from GK Mayer.

(RELATED: Stylish men at The Peak | Adrian Tan, founder of Ad Planet: “I have gone to meetings in red or pink jeans with a jacket.”)

PHOTOGRAPHY TAN WEI TE & ZAPHS ZHANG ART DIRECTION FAZLIE HASHIM

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