Though Savile Row showroom in London has an esteemed clientele from Whitney and Tischfamilies to Richard Gere, Nicolas Cage, Sachin Tendulkar, Amritraj Brothers, et al queuing up for their bespoke suits… the people behind the scene, who create these pieces, each costing over £1, 400 have an India connection. Mahesh and Suresh Ramakrishnan’s Whitcomb & Shaftesbury based at Mahalingapuram in Chennai, are the names behind Savile Row’s success story.
It was back in early 2000, when Suresh was with Goldman Sachs and Mahesh was working at a consultancy firm in New York, when their trips to suit-makers in the US to match the workplace standards inspired them to take interest in bespoke tailoring. Quitting their careers, they decided to pursue their passion for suits and build a small network of people at Savile Row.
When they were called to train Indian craftsmen hit by the tsunami under “Children of the World” program by Jean-Francois Lesage of a famous embroidery house in Paris and Vastrakala in Chennai, they cited a huge opportunity to train and rehabilitate them. They were assisted by Thomas Mahon a personal cutter for the Prince of Wales, working with Savile Row and together they built a brand of made-to-measure English cut suits in Europe and America by working with the artisan community in India. And for bespoke needs, the brother-duo opened Whitcomb & Shaftesbury on Savile Row. Further they also launched the ‘Rehabilitation of Destitute and Abused Women’ programme in Tada, under which they trained and employed women in Andhra Pradesh.
Though the suits made by them are only available at Savile Row, they plan to extend the reach worldwide through partnerships with established stores that will be able to offer made-to-measure services apart from launching a readymade line, which is also under construction.