Two brothers are bringing a touch of the UK’s famed tailoring strip Savile Row to Dubai, infusing a family legacy with a special flair for suit-making – from adding an umbrella placement to cigarette holders.
The history of bespoke tailoring is rich, spanning back over two centuries in the UK. “Bespoke” is derived from bespeak, or to speak for something. The world of bespoke tailoring, which is rumoured to have originated on the Row, is best described as making clothing to a buyer’s specifications.
You could say that needlework runs in the family for the Ishwars – four generations to be exact. However, the turning point for the brothers, Ashish Ishwar, 35, and Pawan, 31, was the opportunity to work in London’s breeding ground for some of the world’s best bespoke tailors.
This type of tailoring means that everything can be customised, according to Pawan. “It’s 80 per cent handcrafted and close to 70 hours of hand work for the first fitting,” he said. And it usually takes three to four fitting trials for a suit to be made.
The duo decided to open Knights & Lords six years ago to bring the art of bespoke tailoring from Savile to Jumeirah Beach Residence.
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“Bespoke tailors have preserved the tradition as it was practised back during the days of British military uniforms. Bespoke suits were a battle dress,” says Pawan. “It slowly evolved into a lounge suit that we wear today.”
But for the Ishwars, this type of stitch work signals precision and perfection. “The hands that measure are the hands that cut the suit and supervise from start to finish,” says Pawan.
The reason for this is so the image of the client is always fresh in the mind of the cutter during the making of the suit. “That’s what helps in having the suit completely in line with the body type of the person,” he says.
To give an idea, a client came in for a consultation, but the tailors noticed that he had to step outside frequently. This moved the average timing of such a meeting from 90 minutes to over two hours. When the brothers enquired why the client had to continuously step away, they found out he was a smoker. And his habit kicked up whenever he was faced with numerous choices for the making of his suit.
This resulted in the tailors adding a holder for five individual cigarettes inside his suit jacket. “This was constructed in a manner that we had elastic strips on the inside that even if he pulled just one out, the other four remained in place,” says Ashish. The customer ended up giving over his limited edition Zippo lighter to have a pocket made for it as well.
But most impressive was when the client returned three months later to order a couple of shirts. “His smoking habit was down from two packs a day to only five because he didn’t want his pockets bulging,” says Ashish.
This specialised level of service has resulted in a 10 to 12 per cent rate of growth year on year for the business. “This year we hope to take it forward to 15 per cent,” says Ashish.
“Cutters on Savile Row may be as highly prized as surgeons, but it is the customer’s requirement that always takes precedence,” according to one of the first Savile Row tailoring houses, Henry Poole.
Just like the time that Knights & Lords was asked to craft a parrot green blazer for a gentleman to wear in Vienna. Being rainy season in Austria, the client asked for a specific holder on the left side of the jacket to be made for his pocket umbrella. “All of the fitting trials had to be with the umbrella because it was made to accommodate,” says Ashish.
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