There’s nothing quite like attire that’s made exclusively for you. We’re not talking about world-renowned designers rushing to dress you — though that would be a dream — instead, we’re talking about bespoke clothing! Dev Goswami & Anindra Siqueira give you the lowdown on everything that you need to know about it
Picking up a readymade suit is convenient, but if you’re looking for a real stunner, nothing beats a well-fitted one, made according to your exact specifications. Bespoke clothing has been whirring up quite a storm in Mumbai for a while now, but the trend has really begun to pick up steam, and it’s going past simple customised suits. However, getting clothing custom-made (also called made-to-measure), and having bespoke clothing made are two different things. Find out more about that on page 14. Whichever way that you choose to go, here are a few things you should know about getting clothing made just for you.
Measuring it up
One reason to get clothing custom-made is to have it fit a certain way. You can tailor the cut, and so, the look. But, as Harssh Chheda, founder of Corporate Collars, tells us, a single body measurement can’t make you look leaner or more well-built. He says, “An individual’s entire body structure needs to be taken into account and the fit depends on these measurements, since every individual has a unique body structure.” Sandeep Gonsalves, co-founder of SS HOMME, reiterates this. He tells us, “Absolute care and precision is maintained to alter the suit according to the client’s precise measurements. Naturally, a wide chest or a slim torso can help accentuate the look.” So, how do you get an item to fit like a dream? Here are some mistakes that people make when getting custom-fitted clothing. Make sure you steer clear of them.
The mistakes we make
If you don’t think that you can make any mistakes with something as simple as having a suit custom made, think again. Harssh tells us, “This may sound strange, but several people try and pull in their stomach or push out their chest while they are being measured. Since measurements are extremely important in the bespoke process, a tiny change can lead to an unpleasant fitting and eventually, a disappointing product.”
Sandeep tells us of another error that people make. He says, “A common pattern that we have noticed is the unwillingness to attend trials. People find the entire process of trying on a suit twice to be tedious, but the process is designed to ensure that their suit fits perfectly, and so that we can work on any other concerns that they might have with the item.” Sandeep also tells us that some people are of the belief that wool is only for winter clothing. However, this is a misconception. “Worsted wool is specifically crafted to suit tropical climates and is woven to make suits lightweight and breathable,” he says.
Also, remember that when you’re getting clothing customised, try to find a balance between how it looks and how it feels. Harssh tells us that if you pick an outfit that is too tight, you won’t be comfortable in it for a long period of time. However, a loose-fitting one won’t look sharp.
Let’s get personal
When it comes to personalisation, the glaring question is — how much is too much? You may let your inhibitions fall, but be left with something too outlandish. Of course, in most cases, the sales staff at bespoke clothing stores will likely advise you against it, but if you are insistent, you may end up going overboard with the personalisation. Harssh says, “There is no such thing as too much personalisation. You can have as much or as little as you’d like.” However, Sandeep disagrees, telling us that subtlety is the key. He says, “If you personalise your outfit subtly, the monogram doesn’t look out of place, eg: initials on the cuff of your shirt. We can also provide our clients with the option of having their initials woven into a pinstripe pattern on the suiting fabric.” Here are a few things to remember if you’re diving into personalisation.
- Fabric comes first Going bespoke is all about tailor-making clothing just for you. This is your chance to show the world who you are. In that respect, choosing the right fabrics is one of the most important steps. Fabric will decide how your suits look, feels and weathers over time. So choose well. Many people suggest using 100% worsted wool, but there are several other fabrics that you can choose from.
- Avoid trends Remember how your old college hairsytle made you look back then? The same can be said about clothing. You don’t want to have to throw out a well-made suit a few years down the line just because it’s horribly out of fashion. Stick to the classics as much as you can and you will never go wrong.
- Don’t fixate on thread count Yes, thread count is the measure of a good fabric, but only to some extent. This represents the number of fibres spun into a unit of the cloth. So, it’s a measure of the fineness of the fibres. A fabric with a higher thread count can be smooth and soft to touch, but it may not be very durable.
- Keep expectations real You may want to emulate Bond...err James Bond, and all that you see in the films, but have realistic expectations. And know this: suits wrinkle as you move around. So don’t expect a pristine look in a real-world situation.
- Get it right the first time If you have to pay a little more for a better fit, do it. Once you’ve narrowed that down, you won’t have to worry about this in the future.
The first thing that you will be made to do once you enter a bespoke clothing store, is go through swatches of different materials, from which you’ll have to choose what you want your suit or bandhgala to be made of. Fabrics from English and Italian mills are universally known to be of excellent quality and it’s no surprise that any bespoke outfit worth its salt will offer you a range of fabrics from these two countries. But, when you’re new to bespoke clothing and don’t know what to choose, what’s the best option? Harssh tells us that you can never go wrong with basic fabrics — wool, cotton and linen. These three fabrics do have differences — wool is much softer than linen, while cotton is perfect for our climate, but may not offer the same structure that wool does.
Sandeep adds, “At SS HOMME, we work primarily with worsted wool and its natural fiber blends such as cashmere, mohair, silk and linen for suits and Egyptian cotton for shirts. We know that we cannot go wrong with these since we have a team of highly-trained designers and craftsmen to ensure that the garments are crafted perfectly.” He also tells us that if you’re not sure about what fabric to pick, you should go for well-renowned brands. He explains, “If understanding fabrics is an issue, always stick to a branded fabric. For suits, some of the brand names that you should keep in mind are Scabal, Holland & Sherry, Dormeuil, Loro Piana & Huddersfield.”
Questions To Ask Your Tailor
In your excitement to get a bespoke suit made, you may forget some essential things that you should clarify with the store, brand or tailor. So, when you’re heading into a bespoke store, don’t forget to ask the following questions. They help you judge the quality of a bespoke service and also ensure that you get a good garment.
- What fabrics do you offer?
- Can I see your range of buttons and ties?
- How many measurements do you take?
- How many fittings will I need?
- Do you alter the final garment later on? What if I gain or lose weight?
Know Your Suit
- One-button: A rebellious style that’s perfect for a night on the town. Don’t wear this at work.
- Two-button: A classic style; it won’t go out of fashion.
- Three-button: More common in the business world; it suits taller people.
- Double-breasted: Two rows of buttons; overlaps in the front; not for everyone; better for the tall or well-built; considered a classic and conservative look.
- Tuxedo: Great for a wedding or a black tie event.
- Morning suit: A European style that’s good for formal events during the day.
- Mandarin suit: An oriental style, this suit generally features a Nehru or band collar worn buttoned up.
Bespoke clothing services in Mumbai
- Bellani S.: A bespoke clothing store in Fort.
- SS Homme: A Bandra-based bespoke luxury clothing store.
- Corporate Collars: For everyday work clothing to a corporate event or a wedding; they even have a service at your doorstep.
- Kachins: Located only at Tardeo, this brand doesn’t have any branches or franchises; they also have a label, Ofran, for women.
- Burlingtons: Located at the Taj Hotel, it is one of the oldest bespoke stores.
- Richman’s: Custom tailors in Mahalaxmi.
The what, according to the when
An easy way to narrow down your choice of fabric is to figure out where you’re going to be wearing your outfit. This short guide will help:
- Weddings Sandeep tells us that wedding suits should be designed in fabrics that have rich texture and good durability. He adds, “The best-quality worsted wool with mohair or uncrushable velvet is a good option.” When it comes to picking between a suit or a bandhgala, Harssh tells us that if you want to stand out but look elegant at the same time, you should pick the latter.
- Business meetings/ dinners You can never go wrong with a two-button, single-breasted suit when it’s time to get down to business, Harssh explains. When it comes to fabrics, Sandeep adds, “Dark-coloured fabrics with pinstripes are great for business parties. However, if your business parties are of the black-tie variety, remember that a classic tuxedo is best.”
- Everyday wear With daily wear, Sandeep tells us that worsted wool will work well. The only thing you have to worry about is what shade to pick, which is something that will depend on your personality and ability to pull of a certain shade. He also adds, “Cool wools and lightweight weaves of worsted wool are also great for everyday wear. Egyptian cotton is perfect to beat the summer heat.”
With mild winters, monstrous summers and finicky monsoons, Mumbai is a not an easy place to pick a fabric for. During summer, Sandeep tells us, fine worsted wool is a great pick as it has moisture-absorbing qualities and so, will keep your body cool. He also adds, “Also, linen shirts, wool linen blended jackets and cotton chinos are a must have in your summer wardrobe.” During monsoon, you need to remember to get a double-breasted trench coat, as it plays a vital role in protecting your suit during rains, and at the same time, makes you look stylish. Sandeep also gives us a fantastic piece of information, which, we think, is perfect for Mumbai’s monsoon. He tells us, “You can also opt for water and stain resistant worsted wool such as Dormeuil’s Aquaplan collection and Huddersfield’s Golf Pants — both of which are coated with nanotechnology.” As far as the winter is concerned, Sandeep tells us, “Wool with cashmere blends works for the moderate winters that Bombay experiences.”
Bespoke vs Made-To-Measure
As Sandeep told us earlier, bespoke is not the same as made-to-measure (MTM). While both offer a range of fabrics to choose from, they’re extremely different services. MTM is a service where the tailor modifies a standard pattern or design so that it matches your measurements. With bespoke on the other hand, a new pattern is created exclusively for you and your body structure. So, while bespoke has multiple fittings, MTM usually has a single fitting, right at the end, in order to ensure accuracy. Another difference between the two is that MTM usually has a limited list of customisation options, while with bespoke, the sky is your limit! So, obviously, MTM is cheaper than bespoke. If you want a well-fitted suit, but don’t quite have the budget for a bespoke outfit, MTM is certainly better than buying a suit off the rack.