Interview with Mr. Prakash Parmar, CEO, Bespoke Tailoring
May 17, 2018
Sir Hardy Amies famously said – “A man should look as if he’s bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them”. This holds true when it comes to anything bespoke. A unique jacket must be perfectly tailored to adorn your silhouette, hold the required functionalities and make heads turn when you walk into a room.
At Bespoke Tailoring’s flagship store in DIFC, we were given some incredible insights about the industry of bespoke tailoring in Dubai by Mr. Prakash Parmar, the CEO himself. Full of charm and dressed to perfection in his Bespoke jacket, he is extremely well versed in the trade he is in which as he pointed out during the interview, a lot of bespoke tailoring businesses lack today. Whether you ask him about different types of wool or the difference between Italian and British suits, he explains his thoughts in the simplest yet story-like manner just like the suits he and his extensive team create. At Bespoke, one of the most important things we learned was how every suit created has a different story to tell about a man who adorns the suit. We were astounded to learn about the attention to details that one must go into in creating the perfect suit!
The Bespoke Legacy
Bespoke tailors forms part of the House Of Parmar Group, a tailoring business that was established in 1956 with the sole purpose of crafting high-end suits for professionals with a taste for the finer things in life. There are four Parmar family members on the board of directors, including a father (who first moved to Dubai in 1956 to start the business) and his three sons.
However, the tailoring legacy dates back farther than the first store that was opened in Bur Dubai – the family boasts of seven generations of sought-after tailors who were of equal renown for both their high-quality merchandise and unwavering commitment to excellence. Bespoke brings this legacy and authenticity of Savile Row to the Middle East in order to cater to the tastes of elegant captains of industry, entrepreneurs, and celebrities alike.
A Business Run By Tailors
As a business run by tailors, Bespoke Tailoring boasts a deep-seated understanding of design aesthetics that cannot be feigned but is instead ingrained over generations. This innate, time-honored understanding of balance and beauty, when combined with technological precision and an aptitude for innovation, results in an enterprise that successfully merges the world of classic tailoring with cutting-edge production practices.
As the preeminent luxury brand, Bespoke Tailoring builds on a long history of creating authentic handcrafted suits for powerful individuals. Due to this, Bespoke Tailoring is renowned for dressing the UAE’s foremost business leaders and sharply attired with unprecedented panache. Known for remarkable artistry and singular expertise, each Bespoke tailor brings with them an intuitive understanding of what makes a good suit great and the ability to construct a suit to flatter any person, regardless of their physical stature.
Fine fabrics & expert craftsmanship
Bespoke Tailors prides themselves in the history of dressing Dubai’s finest class of elite gentlemen, and giving them the freedom to explore their tastes, to express their savoir faire like never before because every measurement, every intricately drawn pattern and every hour put into developing each suit is part of their dedication to perfection. One that stems from years of exemplary experience in the field of men’s tailoring. The Bespoke Tailoring experience is all about luxurious convenience which is why the company houses all of the finest suiting and shirting fabrics under one roof, including the very best British and Italian materials. This includes the Parmar Collections, Zegna, Cerruti, Scabal and more.
Luxuria Lifestyle had the pleasure in interviewing Mr. Parmer:
Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you came about starting Bespoke?
Well, it was not an option for me to be honest. I was sixteen years old, finished my exams and went home, my father told me “So you took your exams? Well, come to the shop tomorrow.” So, I have been there ever since, which I would say was almost 33 years ago counting this year! Tailoring is in our family, we have been doing it for 300 years, we have been doing it for six generations, I am the seventh and hopefully the eighth will do so too.
My brother’s son is in the United Kingdom studying fashion and hopefully one of my children will go into fashion as well! Bespoke is basically one of the stores we have, Parma is our flagship store. Bespoke was specifically created for bespoke tailoring in 2006 because there was a clear market for it but evidently there was no clarity. We had Parma where we were making both bespoke and custom made garments. So, imagine if you went to a pizza store and the pizza guy asked you whether you want a brick fired hand-made pizza or electric oven readymade pizza. You cannot sell both the products at the same place having to explain the difference every time plus DIFC is one place where you would find the right audience and they would not appreciate anything lower in quality! Hence, it was a perfect match to be in this area with the right product and service which we had the skills for.
How evolved is the bespoke men’s tailoring market in Dubai?
There are a lot of wannabe’s right now in the Dubai bespoke tailoring market honestly. Firstly, if you do not come from a background where you yourself know something about this trade or have trained for it, it’s in your family and you grew with it, then chances are you are cutting corners everywhere. Plus, bespoke is a term which has not been classified properly here officially. Hence, the word is used haphazardly. Bespoke and Custom are two different things. Some of the stores here use both bespoke and custom together because they do not know the difference! About 80% of the tailoring businesses here are not even opened by tailors. For example, the best restaurants in town are opened and run by those who have been in the F&B industry for years and know how to take everything into account to run it successfully whether it is the menu, design, food, ambience or customer experience. Same thing is with us! With Bespoke, we are the owners and we take the effort to take all this into introspect and thrive to be consistent in a market where consistency is very inconsistent in most tailoring houses.
Who are your customers and how would you describe a man who wears a Bespoke Suit?
A person who wears a Bespoke suit is not a person who wears a Bespoke suit because he needs it. He wears it because he wants it. For example, you can drink Mcdowell’s whiskey but if you just want to drink McDowell’s, that is fine. But if you want to savor the malts, you do not mix water with it right! Therefore, one is the product must be good enough, the person who must use your product has to understand the value of your product. At the same time, if somebody takes a single malt and puts water and soda in his drink, do you think he really understands what he he’s doing? No! Why is he spending that extra money for something that is kept in a barrel for 10-20 years and matured and then have it with water? It’s a complete waste according to me.
On the other hand, our clients in DIFC have been dressing themselves for years, so they aspire to wear the best but they understand what is the best too! So, if you see some of our suits in Bespoke, they all almost look the same but then the client wears delicate luxurious fabrics, he does not want anything very different, they just want the best whether it is in terms of comfort or style.
People think that if it is tailoring then you can get a lot of flamboyant stuff done. Yes, we do have flamboyant clients but that is just 15-20%. Majority of our clients do not want to dress loud. They just want to wear something nice, elegant but should be perfect in terms of cut, shape, aesthetic, comfort and functionality wise! To give you an example, our customers have two pockets inside their jacket, one to keep their visiting cards and one for their clients visiting cards, the point is that you do not want to look clumsy while giving somebody your card because you have mixed up all the cards you have on you! A Small thing like this makes a huge difference.
What are the popular fabrics and material which you use for a Bespoke suit?
When you eat food, what is it that gives the flavor? Ingredients? True, but sometimes we fail to see that the vegetables are ingredients! A tomato ramen and a normal tomato are worlds apart. See if you’re going to take normal tomatoes and make an Italian dish like pasta and then you go to an authentic Italian restaurant where they use tomato ramen, you are going to think that well this pasta is way better! Now suits were never made in India or China, it was always Europe. The way they make it is the right way to make a suit. Wool is the only fabric that has memory. Memory meaning that it will try to leave the creases and remain flat again, hence wool is used. But people tend to cheat clients. For example, on the salvage, it will be written “Made by x person” but it’s not written “Made in Italy” so you know this is from China and is made of Polyester or Viscose. Then how do you expect that suit to behave as opposed to a suit made of pure wool which is designed by the Italians from the centuries of experience of making suits and they themselves wearing it and then selling it to you! So a good quality wool will cost but the best part is the client takes it with him. If the client is paying for the best quality wool, why would he be discontent about it at all!
What would you say are the essential ingredients of a great suit?
Well, first and foremost it has to be the wool that is most important according to me followed by the cut, shape and functionality of a suit. I will not want to wear a suit that bites into my shoulders when I sit or makes me feel so heavy that I have to take it off every time I sit down! A suit should make a man feel powerful and complete in the way it is structured, created and looks. It should become your second skin with its functionalities!
Who or what is your biggest influence?
At bespoke, we do not take influence from designs. However, when it comes to the technical aspects of creating a suit, that is where we have combined several aspects of British and Italian tailoring. Italian suits are made of light cloth making the suit wearable throughout the day whereas British suits are made of heavier cloth but are more structured than Italian suits. What we have done is combined the structural aspects of the British suit using the light cloth used for Italian suits. See, Italian suits might be on the lighter side but they do lack the structure of British suits. My clients in Dubai like the structure we bring to our suits by using lighter cloth which is more suitable for the weather here as well!
What happens after a client steps through your door – take us through the process of creating the perfect suit for them.
A Bespoke suit is an evergreen thing of beauty one should find in everyone’s wardrobe. However, each client that walks into our store is different and must be understood similarly. The key to creating the suit you want depends on how we understand your needs and desires. So, the first step in creating the perfect suit for a client is to get to know them better. On your first appointment with us, our team spends enough time with you to understand your needs, choices, lifestyle, posture, and persona, in order to maneuver your garment. It is only after understanding the ins and outs of your requirements do we move towards the most important section of the process: measurement. When you are being measured, every tiny detail of your body and its posture is considered and is sketched for the reference of the cutter.
This is usually followed by the second appointment where it is your turn to come back and try the basted blueprint of your jacket. A basted jacket is the first cut or the first draft of your garment chalked for alterations in size and design the way you fancy it. At Bespoke, we create your basted jacket with a fine cloth which is later discarded, once your fitting and amendments are through. This is done to judge the accuracy of the fit of the jacket and to ensure that no adjustments are made to the final garment and it comes out prim and proper.
The final visit is for the last fitting of your jacket. At this point, the jacket has been crafted in the fabric of your choice and is designed to fit you suitably. The cutter will look for some final adjustments if required and now you can take home a piece of garment that is truly yours. A Bespoke suit usually requires 5000 stitches or 80 hours of work and can take up to 8 days to create so we make sure that from the process of understanding our clients to the final fitting, everything happens without hitches and the client leaves the store feeling satisfied and powerful!