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Suit your self

With the advent of some of the best names in luxury menswear in the country, the sorry state of the availability of suits for men has finally come to an end, writes Vinod Nair.

fashion and trends Updated: Nov 29, 2007 18:53 IST
Vinod Nair

Around the same time last year, in this column I wrote how difficult it was to get well- tailored suits in India. Even when one was willing to shell out a wad of big currency notes, all one got to wear were jackets that looked boxy or hung loose from the sides. So, tapered jackets ('Italian fit', as popularly known in India) were a huge problem for men who were lean.

Lost in lineage
I remember the CEO of Gieves & Hawkes and President of the Savile Row Tailors Association Mark Henderson who came to attend the Hindustan Times Mint in March this year telling me that perhaps Indian tailors are good at suit-making because, during the British rule here, some of them were trained at the Savile Row. I am sure that he had a point, a valid one at that.

But I doubt that, over the years, when the mantle of these tailoring houses was handed over to the next generation, the edge that these trained tailors would perhaps have got diluted or even lost.

Suits for all seasons
And this resulted not just in the style and shape of the suit, especially jackets, but also the kind of fabrics that were used to make them. Some even thought (and still think) that suits are meant only for the winter season. If you dared to wear a suit during any other season they would ask if you were going for a wedding.

The fact, with my limited knowledge, is that there are jackets one can wear even in summer, what really defines its appropriateness is the fabric (and the fabric count) and perhaps the lining used inside the jackets. There are jackets with no interlining that can easily be worn in summer, or made with fabrics like linen.

Anyway, one still ends up looking like an idiot when someone comes up to ask these questions.

Now in India
With the advent of some of the best names in luxury menswear in the country, the sorry state of the availability of suits for men has finally come to an end, at least for those who can afford it.

Brioni, Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali, Dunhill, Cadini and Corneliani are some of the best bets that men can possibly have today without having to travel abroad. Some of them have exclusive stores in India while others are seen in multi-brand designer outlets.

Aesthetics of fine tailoring
Now what makes them tick? Most of these brands for instance make jackets with canvas fronts instead of fusing. This makes the jacket follow your body movements.

I know that lapels of Canali jackets are never fused; instead the brand uses animal hair (horse, I think) in between the fabric on the lapel making it curve softly and freely on the body of the jacket without being stiff. Wool used to make some of the best suits is in the grade from Super 120 to 230.

'Super' is the system by which the grading of the fabric is made. The higher the number, the finer the yarn is used to weave the fabric, making it silkier, wrinkle free, comfortable and of course, a lot more expensive. And there are many other elements that go into making a fine suit.

Complete man, eh?
I am relieved that at least for some men, especially for those who are on the look out for finer and stylish answers to their sartorial needs, the answer is here. After all, saying that 'I am a complete man' is not good enough. You might as well look like a man who is complete!