We at UrbanEye.in are proud supporters of Indian fashion and vehemently endorse homegrown luxury. In our quest for excellence in the Indian fashion and luxury space, our sources led us to a discreet factory in Udaipur, where we discovered sheer tailoring magic. A bit of investigation and a few phone calls later, I soon found myself sitting in the Mumbai office of the Shroff family, owners of Camessi, a luxury bespoke shirt and trouser brand, that seems to have got India’s most discerning gentlemen talking. No, Camessi does not profess some half-baked notion of made-to-measure tailoring. These guys are the real McCoy — bespoke to the core, using the finest quality fabrics and proudly showcasing top-notch tailoring. We set out to get under the skin of this label, understand its tailoring philosophy and discover just what goes into making it ‘luxury’.
Discreet and understated, the Shroffs are no upstarts to the world of garments. They have been in the textile manufacturing industry for over five decades, following which they decided to set up a separate unit with a high-end offering for discerning customers. Thus, Camessi was born in 2006 with an aim to create India’s best bespoke shirt. The Camessi factory was set up on the outskirts of Udaipur, near the Shroffs’ existing mill. But that wasn’t all. Ameya Shroff, third-generation owner of the company, and the future of Camessi, tells me, “We recruited an all-women team and began to train them in the art of tailoring. These women are the daughters, wives and sisters of our existing millworkers and this initiative was first met with a bit of reluctance, but once the women were empowered and armed with a new skill, there was no looking back. Even today, our girls undergo a very long and thorough training process, which could last between 8 and 12 months, before they can actually lay their hands on a shirt. Today, over 100 ladies work tirelessly in the air-conditioned comfort of this factory, at producing some of India’s finest bespoke shirts and trousers.”
How did the Shroffs zero in on a design and tailoring philosophy for Camessi, I asked. Ameya tells me, “We wanted to develop this skill to produce good shirts. We picked out some of the best shirts in the world — Brioni, Fray, Kiton, Borelli, Stefano Ricci, Zegna, Ascot Chang — looked at aspects like collar construction, whether their seams were British or Italian, technical aspects as well as how to translate these fine fabrics into our products. Our primary objective is to uphold the tradition of shirt-construction.”
The result is an unapologetically high-end, hand-crafted shirt that is “proudly made in India, an engineered shirt made in the old-school way.”
As I talk to Ameya Shroff, in the company of his brother Rahul and their father Sanjiv, their unflinching passion for fine tailoring becomes increasingly evident. They fastidiously explain the intricacies of a quality shirt to me, “We want to show the world that there is a company in India, which is capable of making an extremely high-end shirt. The beauty of a shirt lies in the yarn and in the finish. We do not allow a shirt to pass our quality-control check even if there is a variation of 1 mm. Our commitment to quality is unfailing.”
What, then, makes a Camessi shirt so special? Many details might be almost invisible to the amateur’s eye, but these invisible details are appreciated by a discerning few, which is the true mark of a luxury brand. Ameya adds, “Our German machines are designed to produce 2,500 shirts per day but we produce 2,500 shirts per month. We work with low-profile Italian manufacturers who make small quantities of fabric, but of exceptional quality.” Small quantities and high quality make for a veritable niche!
Camessi benchmarks its shirts with Fray, the uber-luxe Bologne-based handmade shirtmaker. Which brings me to the most important question — What makes a Camessi shirt so exceptional? Rahul tells me, “Our patterns (checks, stripes prints) are matched from shoulder to sleeve. The single-needle tailoring technique ensures that the seems are almost invisible. Our shirts feature 23 stitches per inch, while our narrow French seams make the garment look flawless. Even the buttonholes are 120-stitched, finished entirely by hand.”
What would a bespoke shirt be without the individual’s ultimate mark — the monogram. Monogram notwithstanding, there is an unfailing eye for detail invested into every shirt. Camessi’s monograms are hand-done, with machines playing no role whatsoever. The sewing thread is imported from Germany, while the collar stays are imported from Italy. Every button is in Australian mother-of-pearl. Every single shirt is checked at 88 spots. Now that is some serious emphasis on detail.
In the luxury garment space, I’ve often learnt that invisible details hold as much weight as the outer details. Camessi proves me right. Ameya asserts, “the inner stitching is as important as the outer stitching. Our shirts are exactly the same when viewed inside-out and outside-in. As for our trousers, the inner linings and pockets are sourced from shirt fabric manufacturers. We do not use just about any fabric just because it is not visible.”
After my insightful interaction with the Shroffs, I met with Ajay, the brand’s bespoke specialist, who proceeded to measure me and schedule trials for a shirt and a pair of trousers for me. Ajay, with his impeccable manners and customer-service skills that could make an international luxury brand blush, measured me up, even nipped and tucked a trial pant that had been made for me. As Ajay talked me through the bespoke process and showed me swatches, I complemented him on his Patek Phillippe, which inadvertently added to the luxury element of the experience.
From the looks of it, Camessi occupies a discreet, understated space, out of the limelight, and is changing the luxury menswear space in India, one hand-stitch at a time.
Camessi shirts range from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 40,000 and trousers range from Rs. 13,500 to Rs. 46,000.
Experienced by Riaan George
Photography by Vishal Jolapara