Fashion

Suit dreams are made of these

John Mc Cabe and Mahesh Ramakrishnan. Photo: R. Ravindran  

The Whitcomb & Shaftesbury section in Evoluzione has a quiet elegance about it. Shirts, trousers, coats and suits hang neatly and at the large working table in the centre is material with measurements chalked out. On one side, a mannequin wears a jacket, that shows the details of the workmanship behind every suit and on the other, little niches display cuffs, collars, lapels and every other element that is put together in true bespoke style, to create the perfect fit. World-class bespoke tailoring is no longer out of reach for Chennaiites.

Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, a Savile Row store, owned by Mahesh Ramakrishnan and his brother, has a long list of celebrity customers including Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Jackson, Jude Law, Mick Jagger and Richard Gere. “We’ve been in London for a while now and have wanted to come to India. Our customers have been asking us to open a store here for a long time,” says Mahesh, “We needed a place that understood luxury, since our product is not a necessity per se, but an indulgence. Evoluzione fits the bill.”

The collaboration also stems out of the fact that Mahesh is from the city and the brand has two units in Mahalingapuram staffed entirely by tsunami survivors and destitute women. Both units provide employment to about 85 local craftsmen, who are trained by tailors from Savile Row. “A bespoke suit is consciously designed to fit perfectly. Patterns vary according to individuals,” he adds.

Customers can get their clothes tailored on appointments. “First we give them a sample garment and see how it fits — so that the customer gets an understanding of the style. A lot of people don’t know what suits them, they look at certain magazines or see celebrities and want to look like them. We suggest an appropriate style and fabric ( the weight, the quality, the climate, place of travel and season) because it isn’t always best to go for the most expensive thing. If you don’t know what is good, you’ll end up spending a lot of money unnecessarily. After this, we call them in for the final fit.”

The brand will offer shirts, trousers and suits. “In Chennai, there is a lot of demand for shirts and trousers since that’s what people here wear most often. We are looking at good light-weight fabrics and jackets with relaxed styles. For shirts, we have a material that is a mix of cotton and linen; it has the look of linen but is crease-resistant,” says Mahesh.

Along with him is John McCabe, a Savile Row master craftsman, with over 40 years of experience in tailoring. “The only thing that’s changed in Savile Row in all these years is that some of the shops are no longer family-run. Big corporates have now stepped in. But that’s only in a few places,” he says.

John joined Whitcomb and Shaftesbury about three years ago. “They flew me to Chennai to see the workshops here to help with training. Since I am a cutter, I trained the cutters in my technique — a very European way of cutting, you could say,” he adds. “I encourage them to do it the way we do it back in London.”

Mahesh says there was a time when ready-to-wear caused a big dip in the business. “But when you put in a lot of money to buy an expensive readymade suit and then find out it doesn’t fit you properly, you are not pleased. A ready-to-wear is a garment made from hypothetical measures. The designers have fit models and all clothes are made from that size. But none of us really look that way – we stand different, walk different and these clothes don’t take that into account. That’s why they always look good on a mannequin but not so when we wear them,” he explains.

“And once you have worn a tailored suit that fits you well and makes you look good, you will keep going back for it. The art of Savile Row is to create a three-dimensional form that drapes the body and shows structure while still being fluid and non-restrictive.”




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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 4:39:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fashion/suit-dreams-are-made-of-these/article5367842.ece

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