Sunday, May 08, 2005

Of shirts...1

Shirt shopping is an interesting time. We have long moved away from the cut piece times when shirt shopping was about selecting a cut piece from the neighbhourhood cut piece center. If one wanted variety, we could go to the wholesale markets (Dadar or Manish Market in Bombay). If one wanted quality, we could buy mill cloth (Bombay Dyeing, for instance) and go to our tailor who would duly stitch our shirt for us.

The market for shirts has moved on from these outfits to a more premium area. With the advent of mechanical cutting (tailoring) machines, people now prefer the readymade shirts rather than the tailored versions. However, handcrafted (tailored) shirts and suits occupy the super premium end of the market as well, but thats for a later time.

The earliest to experiment with readymades was probably Zodiac, Charagh Din and Double Bull (this is from my memory, so, dont hold me for the details). Vivaldi and Park Avenue had limited success. Cambridge shirts were a rage in Bombay once upon a time until the Arrows, Louis Phillipes and Van Heusens arrived on the scene. When they arrived, many got to know what they were missing in the shirts. For instance (again, from personal experience) in a checked shirt, the pattern of the checks should match over the stitching of the pockets, on the shoulder, both sleeves and so on. Then again, from working in a shirting company for a short while, I noticed (was educated) that the fabric in (many) branded shirts did not lift (into hairs) after a few washes, buttons stayed on, collars and cuffs did not get frayed. Margins in the shirting business are high, about 100% on the retailer end and manufacturing end. No wonder everybody wants a brand for the premium they command. But then again, brands are not crafted in a single day.

For those who are interested, one of the things that makes a shirt premium is the yarn that goes into it. The higher the count of the yarn, the better it is. Therefore, 100s is better than 60s. 120s is better than hundreds. Then again, 2 ply is finer than single ply and hence preferred for dress shirts. Some brands (Arrow for one) carry the yarn count as information on their shirts. The next time you go to a shirt store, check it out and check the quality of the shirts alongwith this information. Its a difference that wont go unnoticed, the next time you shop.


Kaps said...

I think you can add Vivaldi (Bombay Dyeing), Park Avenue and Zodiac to the list of pioneers in the field of readymade shirts in india.

La folle narratrice said...
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rupali said...

i am currently working on the Branded shirt market in India, will be glad if anyone can provide some information related to it.