There are broadly two schools of thought among men when it comes to sourcing clothes: Go through the cumbersome process of trial-error-revisits to one of the rapidly diminishing breed of tailors in big cities, or buy ready-made clothes from any of the hundreds of retail stores, which, in the case of pants, invariably fit well at the thighs but are loose at the waist or vice versa.
There is now a third option—of blending the two processes. The Bombay Shirt Company (BSC), based in the city of its name, allows customers to call a travelling tailor home, get measured up and get clothes of their choice in a sort-of “design your own shirt” way.
“Bespoke has a connotation of being snooty,” says Akshay Narvekar, 30, co-founder of the BSC, which started operations in September. “We say design is for everyone.”
The business model follows existing online ventures like J Hilburn in the US or Indochino. The clothes are not cheap, says Narvekar, but they are not exclusive either. Shirts come in two ranges, Rs.1,800 and Rs.2,900—depending on whether they are locally produced fabrics or imported. The BSC only tailors shirts at the moment, though women’s wear is on the agenda. About eight-nine customizations are possible on a shirt—sleeves, collars, buttons, etc.
It’s not mandatory to ask for a tailor either; the BSC has an online video tutorial that allows a customer to take his own measurements, with the help of a friend or family, and register this online. It will soon start a webcam facility for interactions with customers.
“When we started, we had an in-house tailor in our office who used to travel. Now we have partnered with a tailoring workshop/factory that does the work for us,” says Narvekar.
Narvekar met his partner Alex, who prefers to use only his first name, in business school in Michigan, US, where he was studying economics and political science. He has worked with companies such as BCBG, an apparel and accessories collection line, and Everstone Capital, a private equity firm, and returned to India in 2009 with the intention of using his experience to start something that did not involve high Mumbai rental costs and was not “run of the mill”.
“We don’t want to be only tailors; we want to be more of a brand. The reason we started this is because there was a demand for it and we wanted to fill the gap—for people wishing to design their own shirts and shopping online,” says Narvekar.
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