Inspired by the customised treatment lovingly doled out to the gentlemen of Savile Row, The Stiff Collar is a brand of shirts that promises to stay tucked in around your paunch at the end of a long day, and pack a punch with its non-snooty prices
It's like entering the sets of the popular reality TV show Project Runway. On a hot Wednesday morning, studious tailors pedal furiously at 50-odd Brother sewing machines in a brightly-lit workroom in Andheri, even as finished products fill up racks in the office of Kabir Hingorani, CEO, The Stiff Collar. All this is part of a live demonstration of how the 'somewhat snooty shirts' sold on the just-launched website are made at Fashion Apparels, Hingorani's office-cum-factory.
Thirty nine year-old Hingorani, heir to the Liberty legacy, the company that introduced the first readymade shirt in India in the 1950s, decided to make shirts when none of the "locally available" ranges pleased him.
"Having returned from America, I couldn't get myself to buy a shirt here. I wouldn't fit into local stock anyway because I'm a relatively large guy. Naturally, I found the shirts here short and boxy. I ended up wearing American brands like Old Navy, J Crew and Banana Republic for their comfort," he says, about how he then toyed with the idea of introducing an English shirt in the Indian market.
Pray, what is an English shirt? "It imbibes elements from shirts typically available at Jermyn Street and Savile Row in London," he explains, dressed in one himself. Considering how popular these streets are for their bespoke tailoring, that's some inspiration.
"As compared to regular Indian shirts, The Stiff Collar shirts have a shorter collar that doesn't narrow down towards the front of your neck, and therefore provides enough space to bring a tie's knot into prominence," he explains.
Other features include a length that is four inches longer than the regular shirt. As the site puts it, tongue-in-cheek, the shirt remains tucked in at the end of the day, even if you have a beer belly. Also say hello to a split yoke (instead of one piece of cloth forming the horizontal strip that stretches from one shoulder to the other, you have two pieces that are attached at the nape of your neck), a butterfly gusset (a small piece of cloth attached on the side of the side tapering down) and cross-stitch buttons, which give these shirts extra strength and flexibility. The defining bit is the hourglass shape at the waist with the hip section flaring out gently. That slims the look of the shirt and makes it easier to wear.
And yet, the shirts are priced at a modest Rs 899. To which Hingorani quips, "I have amazing friends who've given me a lot of free services. Besides, the Internet allows us to save retailer margins, expensive real estate costs and working capital."
Just three weeks old, the website currently receives between 25 and 30 orders a day. If you are dissatisfied with your order, you can return it to the address provided -- no questions asked. Targeted at young boys who earn anywhere from Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 a month, these shirts with attitude (check out the website for each shirt's quirky story) and elements so far missing in the Indian shirt are bound to do well.
Hingorani has big plans for the future. He aims at introducing a new collection every four weeks, and venturing into the women's shirt area soon. I have to say, we wouldn't mind another round, because, as Tim Gunn would say, Hingorani is "making it work".
Sunday Mid Day and Mid Day readers get a Rs 50 discount on their first purchase at thestiffcollar.com by entering the code "midday50" into the box on the "My Cart" page before checking out. The offer expires within 15 days.