Forget Tom Ford and Armani. The next
big thing is bespoke suits.
There’s something about a good suit
that can give any man iconic stature. Over the years, a certain “suit culture”
has slowly developed. Movies and TV shows such as Skyfall and Suits
have long contributed to the idea that a suit can make a man, and that if
you wear the right one, you can do almost anything.
Tailor brothers Ashish and Pawan
Ishwar believe in the power of a good suit. But they recognise that you can’t
buy a ready-to-wear costume and have it fit like a glove. Instead, they trust
in bespoke tailoring to bring out a man’s full potential.
So, four and a half years ago, they
decided to open Knights & Lords, a bespoke tailoring house with a flagship
store in Dubai and headquarters in London. Since then, they have acquired a
list of high profile clients, including the King of Uganda, the Lord Mayor of
London, and the chief executive of IBM.
“A bespoke suit is tailored custom made.
Bespoke simply means to be spoken for,” says Pawan. “It consists of many, many
small details which a client chooses, which is then put together and made into
a bespoke suit. Once the client wears [it] and looks in the mirror, it seems
Pawan and Ashish trained in London’s
famous Savile Row, where bespoke tailoring originated. They specialise in a
cut called the ‘drape’ cut, which was founded by tailors named Anderson & Sheppard.
Earlier in the day, suits were only
used as battle wear. It was Anderson & Sheppard who transformed the
“military suit” to the “lounge suit” as we know it today.
“Normally when you wear ready-to-wear
suits or even made-to-measure suits from other tailors, a slim fit for them is
very tight,” says Pawan. “Slim fit means as close to your body as possible.
You’re very restricted in a slim-fit suit.”
“The drape cut is made in such a
manner as that when you wear the suit, you notice from the side that it appears
slimmer but it does not compromise on comfort,” he continued.
Pawan explains that drape suits have a
lot of arm movement, simply because a larger sleeve head is eased into a
smaller arm hole through handwork. He adds that bespoke suits are 70 percent to
80 percent handmade. In his case, the handwork is made by him and his brother,
“It’s part of the bespoke tradition
that for every client we deal with, we take their measurements by hand. The
bespoke tradition says that the hands that measure you are the hands which are
supposed to cut the suit,” says Pawan.
Despite coming from a line of tailors
and today owning a shop in Dubai’s prestigious Jumeirah Beach Residence, Pawan
and Ashish started from scratch.
“I started out as a person who used to
do alterations,” says Ashish. “They would give me a pair of trousers to shorten
the length, hem the trousers, and they really put you through that rigorous
There is a lot that goes into bespoke
tailoring for the customer, too. The options are endless.
“There’re plenty of small personalisations
and customisations that you can go for with your bespoke suit, right from
selecting your fabric to selecting your lapel styles to selecting your pocket
style, selecting the number of buttons on your sleeve,” says Pawan. “You can
even have your initials on the inside.”
But bespoke is not only about the
details in the cloth. It comes with a responsibility: suit ‘etiquette’.
“If you have a two-button suit, you’re
supposed to only do up your first button. If you have three buttons, you would
just do up your central button,” mentions Ashish. “If you do it any other way,
the suit connoisseur would feel that this person does not know how to wear a
Pawan further explains, “When you’re
wearing a suit, it is of utmost importance to have swagger and behave like a
gentleman. Having gentlemanly attributes is part of your style and it’s
something that remains forever, it’s something that’s permanent.”
Though many might not be familiar with
bespoke tailoring, it’s the brothers’ objective to open people’s eyes to it.
Their vision is to make bespoke affordable to the general public and to the
everyday man, who wears suits to work every day and has no knowledge of the accessibility
“We would like to stir up that
movement, whereby we are getting the mass population into converting into
bespoke wear, something that they think is inaccessible at this moment. We want
to show it to them that it is accessible, that it is within their reach and
that it’s better to go for a bespoke suit than to go for anything else,” Ashish
He clarifies that a custom-tailored
suit is more than just that. It works on a person’s subconscious level and
extracts his innate sense of perfection.
“When you’re wearing a perfect,
bespoke suit, you also tend to perform in your daily activities in your most
optimum matter. So, it is celebrating your achievements, but also striving to
do more,” he says.
When the brothers made this statement
at their humble tailoring shop, it became clear that bespoke is a whole other
world on its own, and that there’s much more to a suit than wearing it.
“Once you’re wearing a bespoke suit,
especially for a man, they make a lot of life-changing decisions every day
whether it’s with regards to their business, their work and so forth,” adds
Pawan. “So, wearing a perfect bespoke suit would also mean that you try to
achieve perfection in all your actions and all your decisions.”
Perhaps not every man is aware of the
power of a good tailored suit, but that’s a responsibility Ashish and Pawan
carry on their shoulders.
“More than Knights & Lords being a
business, it’s a tailoring house, so we treat it as a profession. For us the
definition of doing well is not business-oriented, the definition of us doing
well is to be able to spread the awareness of the bespoke craft,” Pawan says.
Because bespoke tailoring is very
personal and one to one, the brothers don’t have future expansion plans. But
they do have an end purpose.
“The ultimate goal would obviously be
to take it back to our roots, where we learned our trade,” says Ashish. “The
craft that we learned was at Savile Row. So it would be a desire in the future
if we could have our own tailoring house in Savile Row.”
“That would make us really proud,” says
Pawan, “because then life would have come full circle, to end where you started
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