In the age of excess, practicing the art of restraint is a revolutionary act. That pretty much sums up the guiding philosophy of Camessi, the bespoke shirt maker based in Udaipur. As the best kept secret by sartorialists-in-the-know, the company set up in 2006 has been quietly working towards the singular vision of “crafting the best men’s shirts in the world". What makes its effort believable is the fact that it started out as a personal quest of textile merchant Shanker Lal Shroff’s love (read: obsession) for a smartly-fit, sharply tailored shirt. Eventually, along with his son, Sanjiv Shroff, he decided to set up a boutique
shirt-making factory that would make exquisite shirts and offer a bespoke service to discerning clients around the world. It made sense—given that the Shroffs own Reliance Chemotex, a BSE listed, public limited company that has been in the textile (premium yarns) industry for over 35 years.

“The ‘Made in India’ label was still not associated with a high quality product in the world of Western luxury. This was going to be a Herculean task, which would require persistence, dedication and patience," says Sanjiv, the company’s director. He keenly deconstructs the label name. “It’s the combination of the French (‘chemise’), Italian (‘camicia’) and Hindi (‘kameez’) word for a shirt. While the brand is quintessentially Indian, our product was inspired by the finest shirt makers in Italy and France. So the name, Camessi, a word that we like to believe encapsulates all three cultures, was born," he adds.

Today, Camessi sources the finest natural fabrics in cottons, silks, linens and their blends from the most reputed mills of Italy and Switzerland. “All our shirts are individually hand-cut by skilled artisans who meticulously balance the design and geometry of the fabrics so as to preserve its integrity," says Sanjiv. Choices unfold: hue, weight, button, cut, collar, stitch. ‘We deliver an outstanding sewing capability of 23 stitches per inch, which allows the stitching to remain almost invisible. The narrow 3mm hemline and side French seams make the shirt look almost seamless," he adds. As a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, the company employs only women from the neighbouring villages to create these shirts.

The Camessi Bespoke Experience begins with a home/office visit by a consultant. A trial shirt is first made to ensure a perfect fit to the personality wearing it. Every facet of the shirt is reimagined and
custom-tailored to the client’s body. Focussing on quality and not quantity, Sanjiv says that the company only produces 2,500 shirts per month and has no intention of increasing this number substantially. The shirts (priced at 5,000-40,000) are also retailed at top stores in Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, Switzerland, the US and the UK.

In 2014, after spending a year mastering the art of making trousers, the company also started production of bespoke pants. Trousers begin at 11,000 and go up to 20,000.

Supriya Dravid tweets @superear

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