Akshay and his wonderful colleague Michelle began by opening out a huge spread of fabric swatches before me, each one elegantly fixed into a brown paper folder. I could choose from regular cotton, silk, linen, Egyptian cotton and even silk cotton.

Off The Cuff: My Bespoke Shirt Experience at Bombay Shirt Company

If bespoke is a word you associated with London’s Savile Row, you might want to reconsider after reading this. The custom-craze is now taking over Mumbai too. After much observation, I can safely conclude that fashion-conscious gentlemen in India are coming to terms with the fact that though they wear expensive, branded, off-the-rack clothes on their back, nothing…nothing…beats the bespoke experience. For the uninitiated, bespoke, quite literally, means, a piece of clothing personalised and tailor-made, only for you — yes, only for you, being the keyword here. Bespoke shirts, trousers, suits and even shoes (love Gucci’s new made-to-measure shoe service) trickle out discreetly, but surely, from the many boutiques in London’s menswear hub and also from the glitzier ‘su misura’ boutiques in Milan and Rome. Enough of a backgrounder, guys. You can now acquire bespoke in Mumbai, without having to travel across the seven seas. Thanks to Bombay Shirt Company, the city’s coolest new ‘bespoke shirt’ service for men, I was able to get my style basics on, right from the collar to the cuff. With this service, customers can now enjoy a complete personalised experience, with attention to minute details like buttons, the thread on your buttons, a variety of cuffs and collars and, of course, an impressive gamut of fabrics. As I geared up to get myself a bespoke shirt, I couldn’t help but wonder if the finesse and elegance of the international bespoke services I had enjoyed in the past would be maintained. By the end of the experience, I was more than impressed, it must be said. Though regular customers can benefit from the ‘Travelling Tailor’ service, where BSC’s tailoring specialist comes to your home or office — at a time specified by you — and shows you a bunch of fabric options to begin with. He then takes you through the process of creating the shirt. Once you’ve zeroed in on a fabrics, the details follow — collars, details on the collar, details inside the collar, buttons, thread on the buttons, cuffs, the length and shape of the shirt and here’s my favourite part, a monogram with your initials, in a colour and font of your choice. And once you’re done, you bid your tailor goodbye and let him work his magic. Within a week, a beautiful package arrives at your doorstep, with your very own bespoke shirt. Sartorial style knocking at your door, quite literally. Here’s how it panned out for me…

 I visited Bombay Shirt Company’s tiny studio in Parel and I was charmed – I was instantly transported to a world of cuffs, collars, cloth and colours. All the trappings of a world of bespoke awaited me, hangars, shirts, some crumpled and waiting to be pressed, others awaiting altering, and many more as samples for discerning customers. A sewing machine standing right below a rack of shirts offered a powerful symbolism of the idea of bespoke tailoring, in that very space.

I visited Bombay Shirt Company’s tiny studio in Parel and I was charmed
– I was instantly transported to a dreamland of cuffs, collars, cloth and colours. All the trappings of a world of bespoke awaited me, hangars, needles, thread, shirts, some crumpled and waiting to be pressed, others awaiting altering, and many more as samples for discerning customers. A sewing machine standing right below a rack of shirts offered a powerful symbolism of the idea of bespoke tailoring, in that very space.
I was met by the extremely dapper founder of the brand, Akshay Narvekar, who was giving me the privilege and honour of being my ‘tailor’ and taking me through the bespoke process.
I was met by the extremely dapper founder of the brand, Akshay Narvekar, who gave me the privilege and honour of being my ‘tailor’ by taking me through the bespoke process.

Akshay and his wonderful colleague Michelle began by opening out a huge spread of fabric swatches before me, each one elegantly fixed into a brown paper folder. I could choose from regular cotton, silk, linen, Egyptian cotton and even silk cotton.
Akshay and his wonderful colleague Michelle began by opening out a huge spread of fabric swatches before me, each one elegantly fixed into a brown paper folder. I could choose from regular cotton, silk, linen, Egyptian cotton and even silk cotton.
There I was, sharing a laugh with Michelle, who quelled my confusions and helped me sort out my preferred fabrics with a nonchalant sleight of hand.
There I was, sharing a laugh with Michelle, who put my confusions to res and helped me sort out my preferred fabrics with a nonchalant sleight of hand.
I did manage to settle for a lovely blue cotton material, which I paired with a red micro-check collar, and a retro polka dot evening shirt in dark grey.
I did manage to settle for a lovely blue cotton material, which I paired with a red micro-check collar, and a retro polka dot evening shirt in dark grey.
Once I chose my fabric, Akshay began to ponder over my choice in this almost menacing fashion. I was quite certain he was judging my classic approach to style and lack of 'quirk', which is what he probably expected from me. Turns out, he was putting together a nice shirt for me, in his head, so that the results would be nothing short of perfect.
Once I chose my fabric, Akshay began to ponder over my choice in this almost menacing fashion. I was quite certain he was judging my classic approach to style and lack of ‘quirk’, which is what he probably expected from me. Turns out, he was putting together a nice shirt for me, in his head, so that the results would be nothing short of perfect.
PS… Ten points to his black and white, Chinese collar shirt, designed by himself, AND the retro Casio digital watch (so ’80s)
There I am, posing with a board full of button options. For my blue shirt I chose blue buttons with red thread through them, to match the colour
There I am, posing with a board full of button options. For my blue shirt, I chose blue buttons with red thread through them, to match the colour.

At one point, I was actually considering this striped pattern (boring) but was instantly told off for being too corporate when I wasn't required to be!
At one point, I was actually considering this striped pattern (boring) but was instantly told off for being too corporate when I wasn’t required to be!
And the measurements begin, with a trial shirt, closest to my size.
And the measurements begin, with a trial shirt, closest to my size.
Hope Akshay's left enough room for me to  breathe...
Hope Akshay’s left enough room for my growing tummy…
If I'm not going to show off my colourful watch straps, then what's the point? Let's adjust the cuffs accordingly.
If I’m not going to show off my colourful watch straps, then what’s the point? Let’s adjust the cuffs accordingly.
I may not have 21 inch biceps, but I still don't like loose baggy sleeves, my stylist remedies that instantly.
I may not have 21 inch biceps, but I still don’t like loose baggy sleeves, my stylist remedies that instantly.

That was where it ended… my size coordinates were instantly entered into their records — for future reference, all I’d need to do is decide my style and they’d have my measurements stored, in the hope that I haven’t put on or lost any weight. A few days later, this was at my doorstep. photo 2 (2)

This was my first creation. The blue shirt with the micro-checks in red. Don't miss the RG monogram on the inside of the collar.
This was my first creation. The blue shirt with the micro-checks in red. Don’t miss the RG monogram on the inside of the collar.
There is is, my lovely retro polka shirt in grey, with an interesting enhanced Chinese collar detail and French cuffs. It got me many compliments at the Moet & Chandon  party on Saturday night.
There is is, my lovely retro polka shirt in grey, with an interesting enhanced Chinese collar detail and French cuffs. It got me many compliments at the Moet & Chandon party on Saturday night.

Here’s my verdict: A great service of international standards and the choices on offer are beyond impressive. Moreover, with an extremely competitive price point, cotton shirts averaging Rs. 1800-2000 all inclusive, I’d much rather opt for this service than one of those unflattering, overpriced, high street brand shirts, which I end up having altered anyway. I also like the concept of a travelling tailor, which I think should work very well among Mumbai’s boys. And most importantly, the overall finish of the product, the packaging and the process, is top! I can safely put this in the rarefied list of  ‘my current favourite brands’. Ok then, I’ve be-spoken too much. If you want to enjoy this experience, check out bombayshirts.com As we always say on UrbanEye.in… Stay Stylish, guys!