Seeking out the perfect suit in Dubai
According to one of Dubai’s leading tailors, many of the common assumptions we have about suits are incorrect. “A ready-made shop bought suit is wrong for a significant number of men”, Prakash Parmar, CEO of the House of Parmar tells ShortList.
“Shop-bought suits have to accommodate many different physiques, which means they actually end up fitting very few men perfectly.” That’s why shop-bought suits often result in a range of problems from oversized shoulders, to sleeves that are
too long as well as awkwardly fitting buttons.
“In contrast to that, a tailored suit can help elevate the strong points of a person's shape, and hide the weaknesses. The design can take into consideration particular traits in a person, for example, ‘strong’ or ‘trustworthy, and it can also be built so it has the optimum mix of comfort and style” he continues.
There is also a common perception that bespoke suits are significantly more expensive than high street ones. While of course there is a significant price difference between high-street suits and high-end bespoke suits (some can cost as much as a hundred thousand dirhams), entry-level bespoke suits are comparable to those on the high street (from AED1,500 to around AED4,500).
There is also a middle ground between the two, which is made-to-measure. A slight step beyond shop-bought, these suits are made out of standard patterns which are then cut and fitted for the individual buyer (usually around the same price as an entry-level bespoke suit). This option is relatively straightforward – the patterns are premade so you can see approximately what the suit looks like on their website or in their shop, before having it adjusted to fit your build.
“Our made-to-measure service allows us to combine our Italian craftsmanship with speed and efficiency,” says Stefano Gaudioso, the style director of made-to-measure service Corneliani, a company which offers more than 750 made-to-measure suits, all with different linings, buttons and fabric combinations. According to Parmar however, “bespoke suits are more than just what they look like from the outside”.
The tailor and CEO says bespoke suits are a totally different category of luxury product: “You can compare bespoke suits alongside a grand complication of a watch or the engine of a sports car. A tailor has to be experienced and thoroughly knowledgeable about the sartorial world in order to educate a customer on the importance of a real bespoke suit.”
A problem of plenty
“It’s important to know what you want before you walk into a tailor’s shop,” Wael Hussain, creative director at Atelier WAEL tells ShortList. One of the biggest problems you can face when buying a bespoke suit is the huge number of options available.
Are you looking for something for the office?
A black tie event? Or perhaps a wedding or a gala dinner? Why you want the suit will determine the colour, style and finishing touches. Have a look online and screenshot some different images to bring with you to your first appointment. Details to consider include (most obviously) the colour.
If you’re looking for a reusable suit for different gala dinners, black is a good choice, for a wedding suit you might consider lighter colours for the summer and darker tones (royal blue or dark grey) for a winter ceremony. Aside from colour, you will want to consider the material, the pattern and the number of buttons and vents on the back of the jacket. Linen and cotton might seem like the most obvious choice for somewhere like Dubai, but lightweight wool can also be a good choice.
“Usually there is a misconception that wool is only suited for winter. But wool is actually a highly breathable fabric, which is great for both the winter and summer,” explains Parmar.
“It's about making the right choice of wool. The lightweight wool and tropical wool are very comfortable in a warm climate,” Parmar continues.
Two buttons are considered standard, whereas three buttons make the jacket look a tad more formal. If you’re new to formal suit attire you might not realise the importance of the vents on the back of your jacket. There are three options: a centre vent (this is considered the standard option for suits), side vents (this is considered slightly more rakish and European), and no vents, which is seen as a huge faux pas.
At the appointment
Once you have a good idea of the suit that you want to create, it’s time to arrange your appointment. Although many tailors accept walk-in services, it’s best to book ahead to make sure you get one-on-one time with an expert.
The main point of the first meeting is to come to an agreement on what you want in terms of fabric selection and to take measurements. Based on that, the tailor will let you know the expected timeframe of how long it will take to create the suit.
“After the first meeting, we ask the customer to visit us for an initial suit fitting. This is where they get to try on a roughly-stitched suit which has been put together so the master can see how well it works on them,” explains Anil Ramchandani, director of Kachins. “Alterations are made and a second fitting is decided accordingly. There may be more fittings required depending on the work that needs to be done,” he continues.
Although most suits can be completed in just two fittings, some can take up to four. According to Wael, it can take a minimum of 16 measurements. “Special attention is given to the shoulders and the back of the body and the way they fall. However, once we have all the information from the client, the construction of the actual suit can be done in quite a lot of detail remotely – from how many pockets and where he would want them in a jacket, to details of the lining in terms of colour and hand stitches.”
How to wear it
“To be honest, there are an infinite amount of tips on wearing suits,” says Prakash. “But what it really boils down to is having a perfectly tailored suit with the right colour and design combination,” he continues.
Meanwhile, Wael advises to shop savvy when it comes to your suits so that you’re able to wear them for many different occasions. “Buy subtle colours (blues, blacks and greys) if you plan on wearing them frequently. However, if you’re looking for more of a statement suit, look for extravagant patterns and bright colours.” Ultimately, he says, you have to make a compromise between style and comfort (or vice versa).
“Wearing a suit is not necessarily as easy as it seems. However, it really is worth investing in a good suit for your most memorable events and occasions because the confidence you gain from a tailored suit is unparalleled when compared to off-the-rack pieces, and they last for a lifetime.” To make the most out of your suit, Ramchandani has a few tips: “Find a good dry cleaner to help maintain its durability. But do not dry clean it very often. The chemicals are known to damage its fibres. Instead, after a long day try to air your suit for a while, instead of putting it away in your closet. It will help get rid of any odours caught in the fabric. Give your suit a quick brush, too, to get rid of any dirt accumulated on the fabric.”
WHERE TO BUY A BESPOKE SUIT IN DUBAI
This bespoke suit company has been in the UAE for nearly 40 years. Kachins offer entry level handmade suits with starting prices from around AED1,600. Founded by Ashok Ramchandani with just seven tailors in 1981, the company has expanded to become one of the biggest suit outfitters in the city, with boutiques in Dubai Marina, Business Bay, Jumeirah, Bur Dubai and also a base in Abu Dhabi. It’s a family owned start up with Ashok’s two sons Ravi and Anil helping to manage the business today.
One of the newer tailoring companies in Dubai, Atelier WAEL launched in 2015. However, it’s owner Wael Hussain is by no means new to the sartorial industry. For five years before setting up his own company, he worked for Threads & Tailors, owned by his parents. “The success of the label comes from my lifelong love for the art of tailoring. The label combines influences of minimalism with traditional Savile Row techniques of tailoring,” says Wael. And it certainly shows in the results: in 2017, Wael also had his first successful runway collection presented in Fashion Forward Dubai in collaboration with MINI. Prices at Atelier WAEL range from AED2,500 to AED15,500 (start price for a bespoke suit).
House of Parmar
One of the oldest and most reputable tailoring companies in Dubai, House of Parmar is a family run business which has been operating in Dubai since 1956. The current CEO Mr. Prakash Parmar is not only a pragmatic businessman but an expert tailor (a skill that has been in his family for seven generations). If you’re looking for a top tier handmade suit to impress, their premium tailors shop, Bespoke Tailors, in DIFC, is the place to head to. The unique service offers hand stitched real bespoke suits using the traditional craftsmanship and know-how (usually taking an incredible 80 manhours and over 5,000 stitches per suit). They also offer other services, including Parmar Tailors, a semi bespoke business which can produce a suit in two weeks (with a maximum of two to three meetings needed). For the busiest of customers, they also have Parmar Tailors Express, a service which offers a tailored suit in just five days. For this service – in true Dubai fashion - the tailors can visit your home or office for your fitting, and you only need to come to into the shop to pick up the final suit. Suits at House of Parmar can cost from AED4,500 to AED130,000.
AN ALTERNATIVE TO BESPOKE
Made-to-measure can be a great alternative to a bespoke suit. Although they don’t offer the same exact measurements they do provide a better fit than a shop-bought suit at a fraction of the price you would expect to pay for bespoke tailoring. If you’re a little unsure of what you want, then they can be a good option too – made-to-measure services offer several options which you can pick from, and pair different materials, rather than a blank slate on which to build your new suit. For more information on buying a made-to-measure suit in Dubai, check out corneliani.ae.