Shunning the mass-produced, one-size-fits-all options available commercially, Threads & Shirts makes shirts customised to the needs of its customers
“We live in a cookie-cutter world. Styles are pre-decided and everything is set, gone are the days of customisations,” rues 47-year-old financier Arjun Seth. For him, the charm of wearing that perfectly tailored shirt to work was never lost.
And even with brick-and-mortar shops mushrooming everywhere, finding the right size and fit is a tall order. And often, the devil is in the detail, going beyond fit and colour, to minute details like texture, spacing of buttons, and collar fit. But how many people can afford designers or expensive tailors to make their sartorial expectations a reality?
Looking at this gap in the male luxury clothing segment, 27-year-old Anisha Chaudhari, who was working in the field of finance and financial markets, decided to take her entrepreneurial plunge with Threads & Shirts.
A hardcore finance student, educated in the field of banking and insurance, Anisha's first job was in the fixed income/ derivative market segment. Whilst working in the finance world Anisha noticed her male colleagues either wearing ill-fitting shirts, or resorting to buying the mass-produced ones off the racks of the likes of Zara and M&S, thus running the risk of having a closet full of clothes identical to the next guy.
She started Threads & Shirts to change this scenario and to give the discerning male customer more options to choose from.
While Anisha had found her passion in fashion and design, she had to understand fabrics and the technical aspects of turning out a perfectly tailored shirt.
“I would personally visit the top mills in the country, sit with their representatives, learn and absorb as much information as I could. Even when it came to tailoring, I took it head on to ensure that I had shadowed enough tailors going about their day-to-day work, even if it were women’s clothing. This keen observation and a lot of cross-questioning gave me a much better understanding.”
A major challenge Anisha faced while setting up her business was finding the right talent to work with.
With custom-made shirts still being a novel concept, having a good social network went a long way. Her contacts chipped in and helped Anisha get in touch with some of the best people in the industry. Ankush Chaudhari, with 30 years of experience in real estate, came in as the main investor for Threads & Shirts.
Anisha soon found a tailor specially trained in the art of shirt-making. Irfan Bhai, who had started his apprenticeship in Kolkata, has been in the space for 12 years. Apart form Ankush and Irfan, the team comprises of 22-year-old Ameya Chaudhari, Design and Head stylist, 27-year-old Mayur, theGraphic Designer and Creative Head, 42-year-old Production Head Fakri and 31-year-old Marking head Vijay.
Speaking of the quality of the shirts, Anisha says, “Our handcrafted shirts speak volumes about not only a perfectly tailored piece of art but also the impeccable quality that goes into it.”
Fabrics are curated from the top five mills in India, thus ensuring quality. Mother of Pearl buttons, German fusing of cuff and brass collar and other such minute additions highlight the company's USP of paying attention to detail.
Threads & Shirts has an online presence and the shirts are priced anywhere between Rs 2,000 and 4,000. Mumbai-based Threads & Shirts claims to have made revenues to the tune of Rs 35 lakh last year.
The market for luxury and customised shirts is fast growing. The potential of India’s luxury market has attracted entrepreneurs from around the world to start up here. Growing at approximately $225 million per annum, it has contributed to the changing definition of luxury and how status is perceived.
More than brand power and the visual appeal of logos, the attention has shifted to bespoke clothing and shoes, which emphasise the individuality and personal taste of the wearer.
According to Vidya Nataraj, founder of bespoke garments company Tailorman, the $15-billion industry is not without risks as it is highly fragmented. India Retailing pegs the custom-made clothing segment at a more modest $8 billion, or 20 percent of the market share.
The other 80 percent belongs to the ready-to-wear category. However, even at mere 20 percent, the multi-billion dollar industry is poised to grow at 5.5 percent per annum and significantly disrupts the currents of the fashion industry in India.
This estimate has ensured a mushrooming of bespoke fashion entrepreneurs in the country, eager to contribute to the sense of luxury popular in the West. There also is the Bombay Shirt Company that is focussed specifically on customised shirts according to fit and requirements.
“The main thing that sets Threads & Shirts apart from all the competitors is our classic styling and unique prints, which not only appeal to our young and vibrant clientele but also experienced shirt connoisseurs,” adds Anisha.
The team is in the process of launching its new website with a state-of-the-art custom shirt technology, giving the customer a virtual touch-and-feel of a freshly tailored shirt. It is also planning to open up its second store in Mumbai by the end of the year to cater to a larger audience and meet the increasing demand.