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Paul Jheeta: How the master tailor with a label on London’s Savile Row is tapping Indian market

The first person of Indian origin to have a label on London’s bespoke tailoring hub Savile Row is looking to get the measure of clients in India.

, ET Bureau|
Mar 29, 2015, 05.57 AM IST
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The first person of Indian origin to have a label on London’s bespoke tailoring hub Savile Row is looking to get the measure of clients in India.
The first person of Indian origin to have a label on London’s bespoke tailoring hub Savile Row is looking to get the measure of clients in India.
From a trainee air wing NCC cadet to a master tailor with a label on London’s Savile Row, the world’s oldest and most famous address for bespoke suits for men, Paul Jheeta has come a long way. The son of an Indian naval officer, junior Jheeta was set for a military career after graduating with a degree in accounts and economics. “But my passion for designing clothes got the upper hand and I left Mumbai in 1995 for London to join a course in fashion designing and tailoring,” Jheeta, who was in Delhi recently, told ET Magazine.

After graduating from the Central School of Fashion in London, Jheeta started working for well-known British designer Antony Price as design assistant. That was followed by stints with some of the best known names in men’s tailoring on Savile Row, including Terry Haste and Gordon Alsleben at H. Huntsman & Sons. The final prestigious assignment before he decided to take the plunge himself was as master tailor and craftsman for Chittleborough & Morgan at Nutters Ltd.

Jheeta went on to set up his own label at the famous address in 2004. “Some of my mentors encouraged me to start my own label. Considering that Savile Row represents the pinnacle of British tradition and heritage and no Indian name had ever been there before, it was a formidable task,” says Jheeta.

Now, as one of the few remaining tailoring shops specialising in bespoke suits on Savile Row, which has shrunk to just around 100 metres, Jheeta believes he is amongst a chosen few who have to keep the tradition alive. “The recognition that we get is because of the high quality of our products. The personalised service covers the entire range from selecting the fabric for the suit, cutting it and even sewing the buttonholes — I’m personally involved at all the stages,” says Jheeta whose clients include Hollywood director James Gray and prime minister of island nation Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit.

Back to the Roots

Jheeta believes the time is ripe to reconnect with his roots and for Savile Row to tap into the Indian market. “The Indian market is very big and so far luxury brands have only scratched the surface. Indian HNIs [high net worth individuals] are ready to graduate from mass-produced highstreet products to custom-made suits,” says Jheeta, who visits India at least four times a year to meet his customers and sometimes for fittings.

Every suit that he stitches requires at least two to three fittings and about three months to complete, which is hardly surprising, considering that they come with a minimum price tag of around £2,500 pounds (Rs 2.3 lakh).
 
While Jheeta has many customers in India mainly in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, the most famous name on his client list is undoubtedly Sachin Tendulkar, who owns at least a dozen Paul Jheeta labels; other celebrities include Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar and photographer Atul Kasbekar.

Style Statement

“The fact that Tendulkar has faith in my product is very humbling. What he wears is clearly an extension of his personality and style and I have to engage in very detailed consultations with him to understand what he wants every time. While the final product will have to be something that the owner will treasure and be proud of, I also have to ensure that he does not feel intimidated or uncomfortable when we are planning it,” says Jheeta, who often works over 10 hours a day and is in control of every aspect of the tailoring operations.

Besides catering to the Indian climate when selecting fabrics, Jheeta has also experimented with the Nehru suit in his repertoire of styles. “Many of my younger clientele from India get their first bespoke suit when they get married and the Nehru suit works very well for them since they often do not want to wear a dinner jacket which is too formal for the occasion,” says Jheeta.

His take on the now famous monogrammed bandhgala suit that prime minister Narendra Modi wore during his dinner with US president Barack Obama is “why didn’t I do it! I would have liked to have got the opportunity to dress the Indian PM.” He adds that Modi is making a statement with what he wears and that, according to the style guru from Savile Row, is quite common among global leaders.

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