Custom-made Italian suits for rich, overweight Indian men now available

Apr 28, 2013, 06:49 IST | Kaveri Waghela

Till very recently, a stash of cash did not necessarily mean you could flaunt a classic Italian suit from the house of Corneliani, Gucci, Zegna or Canali. Quite simply, you had to be fit enough to fit into one of their jackets! But even the Romans, famed for setting the rules in the fashion world, have now realised that to succeed in India they would have to make suits for rich Indian men, many of whom are by and large oversized

When a very well-known Mumbai-based industrialist wanted to order a set of suits, each priced at nearly one lakh from one of the top Italian fashion houses some years ago, he was told that while he could buy the suits from their Ready-to-wear (RTW) line, the company not be able to keep his request for Made-to-Measure (MTM) suits. The reason? MTM suits were only done till size 44. In the organisations own definition of hierarchy, anyone above size 44 did not deserve to have their measurements taken!

So the poor man (a very rich man actually) would wear his Rs 45 lakh Patek Philippe watch and handmade Berluti shoes (bought for a whopping Rs 15 lakh) with one of those great Italian suits that would either make his shoulders look droopy or be too tight to button up. The good old darzi (referred to by many as masterji) would then be his only hope of that classic Italian jacket to fit him. The irony of it all was almost killing! And all, just because he did not have six pack abs and had piled on the pounds. It was bad enough that his wife and the doctor were after his life. But the fact that a suit maker could refuse to measure him just because of his waistline, made his fortune seem worthless!

But even as we write this, our man’s fortunes could be changing. He and thousands of other Indians who have the money but not the physique of an athlete, can now rejoice. The Italians are reinforcing their presence in India, this time with a measuring tape firmly ensconced in their pockets. In fact, iconic Italian houses are now offering MTM clothing makes alterations on a piece of clothing that is closest to the client’s actual size.

The big Indian story
Indeed, a host of leading Italian brands such as Gucci, Zegna, Corneliani and others have already launched their MTM service in India. Others including Armani are yet to launch MTM, have at least brought in plus-sized but have introduced ready-to-wear suits, jackets and trousers for Indian customers.

Of course, MTM or even bespoke tailoring is not an entirely new concept in India. “I remember going to Linnet Tailors in Byculla to make a custom-made suit, even shirts. Though bespoke as a concept came to be known much later in India, we knew the importance of things that are made according to fixed specifications,” says Naresh Kumar, Mumbai-based retired businessman.

But as the Indian male travelled the world and grew in stature, the Moneyed Indian Male (MIM) felt the need to sport nothing but the best. And while he easily bought the most exclusive and expensive of shoes, watches, cuff links and ties, the trouser and the jacket
eluded him.

Explains Salesh Grover, Business Head, Corneliani India, “The Indian consumer has become more fashionably aware of the latest trends and is very clear on what he wants.” Thus, in the midst of online fashion portals that are mushrooming all over the Internet, Italian brands like Corneliani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci and Canali are among some that cater to a niche market that has the taste and the purchasing power to get what the ‘rich’ and the ‘famous’ desire.

“I always had an idea of a perfectly cut, impeccable suit which took me to one of these Italian boutiques. On reaching, I was curtly told that my size was available and that I have to make-do with the available size.” recalls an unsatisfied customer whose body size doesn’t match the Italian sizing patterns. He further adds, “I even asked them if they could alter the suit for me if I was willing to pay more but I was bluntly refused.” He is not alone, Italian houses had a policy, of only keeping clothes that were true to their measurement bracket. Grover confirms, “Initially it was quite difficult, as most sizes that suit the Indian body-type weren’t available. One of the reasons can be because these brands were fairly new in India. There were many well-known customers, some of whom were industrialists, businessmen, jewellers who came to us for a MTM clothing but nothing could be done about it during that time.”

What’s available
However, with the changing market patterns and given the increasing buying power of such indian families, the Italians had to alter course and come up with a concept of Made-to Measure (MTM) that solved the unending requests of the wealthy customers.

Ermenegildo Zegna, a premium Italian brand known for it’s classic detailing introduced the MTM concept recently. Today, for suits, jackets and coats, one can choose from more than 450 different exclusive fabrics, patterns and colours produced by Lanificio Ermenegildo Zegna. The Public Relations officer of Zegna elaborates, “In just 4 weeks, a ‘Su Misura’ suit is ready to be delivered in any one of the Zegna boutiques around the world, where the garment undergoes a inspection and the final alterations are performed including the hemming of pants and sleeves. The MTM services are available at five stores -- Emporio in Delhi, The Oberoi, Taj Mahal Palace and Palladium in Mumbai and Taj Krishna in Hyderabad. It also has in-house dedicated MTM specialists at each store to ensure the perfect fit.”

Fashion at a price
Some other brands such as Gucci and Canali too offer this service. While the former takes about four to six weeks to deliver, the latter takes around three months to deliver the final product.

While it is good to know such premium brands are changing their age-old policies to suit the thriving Indian market, the prices of these MTM suits start from 1.5 lakhs onwards. But the MTM suit costs 35,000 to 45,000 more than a ready-to-wear one. Grover admits, “One has to pay an extra sum of Rs 35,000 have a MTM suit prepared.”

Obviously the fashion conscious moneyed clientele doesn’t mind paying extra if it means he could finally afford to wear his favourite brand. Says an entrepreneur who doesn’t want to be named, “I love the MTM concept. It is such a relief to see your favourite suit, shirt or even pants perfectly hug your body without the slouching shoulder pads or your pant length running over your shoes.”

Made to Measure Vs Bespoke tailoring
Often people get confused on Made-to-measure and bespoke couture. While bespoke will always have an edge over MTM considering the varied options that you can choose from, MTM is a fine mix between ready-to-wear (RTW) and bespoke. Here are some points that differentiate between bespoke and MTM:

MTM has a fixed pattern. The person will take the size of your suit and make the alterations on the suit of your size.Bespoke involves making patterns from an entirely new cloth, according to your specification on pocket size, buttons, slope of the shoulder etc

There are limited choices in MTM. However, some design brands offer attention to detail like the length of the lapel and the arch of the back There are umpteen number of choices according to the wearer’s request. They are never pre-designed as per MTM.

In MTM, the client gives his specifications to the store manager and he/she carries the information to the tailor. The tailor is a very important part from cutting of the garment to its construction in bespoke tailoring 

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