A stitch in time

Hitani Kaur        Print Edition: Jan 8, 2012

On London's storied Savile Row, once a fabric was 'spoken for', the suit stitched from it was deemed 'bespoke.' Tailored by a highly skilled master tailor to the precise size of its wearer, the suit could not claim the 'bespoke' label until at least 50 hours of labour had gone into its making.

The rigorous process involved careful measuring sessions, individual patterning on paper, cutting the fabric on bias or with the weave, rough stitching, trial fittings, final tailoring and alterations as necessary. Over the years, the term 'bespoke' has evolved and is now used to denote anything customised to personal specifications- any teenybopper can brag about their bespoke poster or bag. But in this sartorial universe it still implies clothing made to impeccable standards for the discerning customer.

The word may not have originated in India, but here custom-made certainly precedes any comparable tradition elsewhere in the world. The emphasis on fabric, intricate embellishment and detailed tailoring for Indian royals and gentry has a rich history. Current day bespoke tailoring paves a way from the past to the future.

Replacing mass production and readymade convenience with unique personality and style, it has travelled well from Savile Row to the thriving Indian luxury market. After all, a man is what he wears.

The truly incredible aspect of bespoke-and this is good news for many overworked and overweight executives- is that it can play fairy godmother to any physique. The nip of an inseam can give the illusion of height, and a tuck in a jacket can transform that tummy.


LITTLE BLACK BOOK

VAISH AT RIVOLI
25 Regal Building,
Next to PVR Rivoli Cinema, Connaught Place,
New Delhi - 110 001, India
Phone: +(91)-(11)-41502525 / 23362512
E-Mail: info@vaish.com, www.vaish.com

BRIONI
The Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi India
Phone: +(91) 11 24357777 www.brioni.com

SYED BAWKHER & CO
 128, Cathedral Road
Chennai India
Phone: +(91) 44 28112742 www.syedbawkher.com

CANALI
Shop No. 223,
DLF Emporio, DLF Place, Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj,
New Delhi, India.
Phone: +91-11-460407319
E-Mail: delhi.emporio.shop@canali.it

KACHINS

Bombay Market Apartments Co-op Society,
Tardeo, Mumbai, India.
Phone: +91-22-23510019
E-Mail: info@kachins.com www.kachins.com



While many Indian establishments advertise bespoke tailoring, very few have actually earned the right to it. The three notable names are Vaish Tailors in Delhi, Syed Bawkher in Chennai and Kachins in Mumbai. Over many generations they've held the veneration of their long-established clientele. Newer entrants have also widened their services to include bespoke tailoring.

From Brioni and Zegna to Canali, these powerhouses offer a global fashion sensibility. Pulling about a fifth of their revenue in India solely from bespoke, a top quality suit stitched at these international tailoring outfits comes with a price tag anywhere between Rs 1.5 to 3 lakh for the most part.

Indian establishments offer a more affordable option. "With international brands entering the market, we locals have gained," says Sachin Vaish of Vaish Tailors. "We offer the same bespoke services, but at less than half the price. So if someone's deciding between a Rs 60,000 suit done by us, versus a Rs 2 lakh outfit from Canali they naturally take the more reasonable option because they know they will not suffer in quality, fabric or service."

The service and quality are generally at par, and apart from the price there is another difference that could tip the scales. The international players must arrange special appointments with master tailors during specific times of the year, when they can be flown in from their native countries. The locals, however, are ever-present. The exceptional level of craftsmanship is honed through a long and rigorous process. "Ours is a family run business, so my grandfather, my father and I, are personally a part of the fitting procedure," says Sachin Vaish.

"We get the shape of the suit spot-on after about four or five trials with the client. Our oldest tailors have been with us for as long as 40 years, and they pass down their skills to the newer apprentices on the job."

At Brioni, the training is differently structured; more academy than family. Brioni's master tailor, the illustrious Angelo Petrucci studied at the in-house tailoring school, 'Nazareno Fonticoli'. After graduating, he worked at Brioni for over 15 years, and only became the brand's master tailor in 2002.

Walk in, and let the masters do what they do best. They've dressed royalty, world leaders and the quintessential alpha male, James Bond. Whether you wear global or local, you're going to be in safe hands.

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