Friday, December 01, 2006
'haute coutre' for the gentleman
while i was visiting l in england recently,i wanted to fulfil a very old desire of spending some time windowshopping in savile row. the street famous the world over for its handmade suits known as 'bespoke' suits. as luck would have it,l had only the previous day met two brothers from india.they had bought over a tailoring company in savile row and were deeply involved in the business of making and selling 'bespoke' suits.i expressed a desire to meet them.without any fuss suresh agreed to meet me.
and then for nearly two hours i was totally enthralled by his suaveness and knowledge of this business.he explained to me why he and his brother mahesh gave up their lucrative managerial positions in the us and uk and decided to make and sell 'bespoke' suits.nutty?.no.passion? yes.not just passion but absolute passion.the brothers are so involved that their wives think that they have gone bonkers over bespoke.at the end of our discussion suresh removed his jacket made it into a ball and flung it into the ground. he picked it up and wore it again. it looked as elegant on him as it was earlier. no wrinkles,no distortion. the crease remained intact.
they hail from a very illustrious family in chennai. the boys are very well educated with undergrad qualifications from usa and mbas from ivy league business schools. can the love for making handmade suits be so compelling to make one give up one's well-paying and prestigious job and make one start a venture 'de novo', and about which one's knowledge is limited? it was not certainly foolhardiness. it was the confidence in one's self to learn and make a success of the new business. good luck to the brave youngsters for their passion,dedication and committment.
i was brought up in kolkata. my father was a suit afficianado and all his suits were tailored by the best tailor in kolkata. barkat ali and sons,park street. sometimes, i accompanied him when he went for a suit trial and was very impressed the way the main tailor attended to him and then my father would be delighted to see and feel the fitting. he had then told me about saville row in london and its legendary suits.
when i first heard of bespoke suits, i wondered what it meant.suresh explained to me that its meaning is "to have been spoken for".you had to be introduced to the tailor by a friend. hence 'bespoke'. 'bespoke' suits and 'made to measure' suits are not one and the same. whereas 'made to measure' suits are cut from standardised templates and then cut and sewed,in the case of 'bespoke' suits, the tailor literally starts from scratch.the tailor keeps the cloth in his premises.you choose the material that you want.he then takes more than 20 measurements. a personal pattern is made by hand and cut.using this pattern the cloth is cut and trimmed.alongwith the best linings and other accessories.one single tailor sews the garment together. even the buttonholes are carefully made by hand. as well as the slit in the jacket where you insert the rose. so carefully done that the stem doesn't break. the ultimate in indulgence and style. for the first suit you may be required to go for three or four trials and the whole process may take about 10 to 12 weeks.
if you visit marks and spencers or any other big retailer, you can buy a readymade suit for about 200 pounds.'bespoke' suits from savile row can cost you a fortune.in the range of 2000 to 3000 pounds at the lower end.and more, depending on the selection of the material.it can even go upto 10,000 pounds! savile row seems to be on an upswing now after many years of stagnation. it appears it is making a revival. from a business perspective it is the ideal time to enter this field.
the brothers from india are doing a great job.competing with the english in their very own bastion.using management techniques and modern technology and the skills available in india. they are making a fine combination and fusion of east and west.they have stitched for the rich and famous,the bold and the beautiful,royalty and gliterrati. they eat,drink and sleep 'bespoke' suits. that defines passion. and i will let you into one secret. they were born as triplets. and the other sibling keeps himself miles away from 'bespoke' suits!