How did you become bespoke tailors?
Our dad and granddad were tailors with their own company, Al Sharif, in Abu Dhabi. They set up more than 40 years ago and specialised in creating uniforms for the hospitality industry. The early outfits of the Jumeirah Group hotels were made by them.
Watching them at work right from being children and seeing fabric and canvas turned into these amazing clothes was fascinating to us. So after we both studied at university [Pawan did business management and Ashish economics] we moved to London to learn the art of tailoring in Savile Row.
We started off from scratch. But we worked hard to learn, spoke to the best tailors in the city, studied the work of legendary craftsmen like Frederick Scholte, and took tips on everything from cutting techniques to creating buttonholes. It was only after we’d immersed ourselves in this world for more than five years that we felt the time was right to come back to the UAE and open our own tailoring house.
We felt no one in the city was offering the kind of bespoke tailoring we could bring from Savile Row. Bespoke means the hands that measure you are also the hands that cut the fabric. That’s what we do. We take a client from his first consultation to the moment his suit is ready to wear. We have a team of 15 sewers but the entire cutting process is done by us. A great suit will take us more than 70 hours of handwork to create, and we never rush anything.
What skills are needed when you’re creating new suits every day?
First is the ability to understand the personality and lifestyle of our clients. This is so important because, believe it or not, the customers themselves rarely know what they are looking for in a suit. So, it’s our job to help them make the right decision according to their needs and wants, which will not just be something to wear, but an extension of their very personality. We ensure they pick the right fabric and get the best in terms of pocket styles, lapels, lining colour, buttons and buttonholes; everything, in short.
Then we start cutting the fabric, always keeping the image of the client in our mind and envisioning him in the suit we’re making. After the suit is cut, we supervise the sewing from start to finish to ensure all separate parts are put together in a way that will result is a suit that will prove to be that gentleman’s second skin.
Who are some of your most famous clients?
Among the CEOs, top executives, heads of state and royalty, we believe the most famous client we’ve had is King Oyo, who is a king in Uganda and one of the youngest reigning monarchs in the world. We did a suit fitting for him at the Burj Al Arab. He was charming.
What have been some of the more unusual requests you’ve had?
We made a red tartan two-piece for an Italian gentleman. We have also made suits with five-inch peak lapels, and there have been plenty of requests for special inside pockets to the exact measurements of the client’s iPad, cigar case or even a small umbrella for a gentleman from Vienna.
Why is dressing well so important?
A man should want to be the epitome of style. It has been proven that one of the best ways to achieve all your goals is to feel good about yourself and how you look. You can’t help but feel your best when you wear a bespoke suit.
The UAE is so hot in summer. Any tips to stay cool in a suit?
Select a lightweight fabric like Merino wool and keep it under 300g in weight. Instruct your tailor to make it with half lining or without lining to keep it breezy. Possibly try a Neapolitan jacket. Add to this a pair of chinos that complement the colour of your jacket and, if the opportunity presents itself, top it off with a Panama hat. Truly a combination that’s both seasonal and stylish.
One piece of universal advice to someone choosing a suit?
Don’t dress like who you are but who you want to be.
Which is the one suit you’ve seen a celebrity wearing and wished you’d designed?
The various looks of Colin Firth in Kingsman with his slim-fit large-peak lapel double-breasted suits left us awestruck. But the one that stands tall among even them was the dinner jacket paired with tartan trousers. He simply embodied all the characteristics of a true gentleman: confident and suave.