Take note of our bespoke tailoring tips and you will never buy an ill-fitting suit ever again
Time Out Bahrain staff
With its brimming fabric souk and a tailor on every corner, Bahrain is a haven for those who like things made to measure – for a fraction of the cost of prêt-a-porter. But to really cut a swathe in a suit that stands up to the high-end labels, you need to know your Italian fabric from your Eastern European, and be on the button when it comes to selecting your tailor.
Stylish souk savvy businessman Vikram Jain has had 200 suits made-to-measure since moving to Bahrain from India via London five years ago, and shared the following tips.
‘There are a number of good textile outlets in the souk and you should shop around, but Sharafali is a fail-safe option with assorted fabrics from England, Italy, Eastern Europe and India in a variety of colours, textures and mixes. They also stock leftover fabrics from Prada and Hugo Boss (yes, original) at a discounted rate and excellent shirt linen (pure Italian cotton).
A bit more expensive is a tiny shop called Kumar’s that stocks a fine selection of merino and angora, plus premium Indian brands such as Raymond’s and Digjam, which are official suppliers to haute couture houses Ferragamo, Gaultier, Dior and Armani, among others.’
‘Polyester may be crease-resistant, but it tends to loosen and lose form quickly, so go for something with a high wool content for lightness, sharp creases and a good fall. Don’t believe the blah blahs about fabrics being pure merino or angora – even the expensive ones are at most 65 per cent wool and 35 per cent viscose/polyester.
Body-fitted suits should be 65 per cent wool composition; angora and merino are good, but bear in mind that merino breathes better than angora and is therefore best for Bahrain’s climate. By the way, you won’t find any fancy buttons for your suit in Manama Souk, no matter how hard you look. My advice is to buy those elsewhere.’
How much to buy
‘The average suit length (for men between 5ft 11in and 6ft 2in): 3.25m for fitted suits with short jackets and 3.5m for a regular comfort-fit suit. Jackets always take 1.7m to 2m, while for trousers you’ll need from 1.25m to 1.5m. Shirts should be about 2m. Additionally, if you’re going for silk lining, buy your own (I’d recommend asking Sharafali for this) and then have your talior strike off at least BD4 from his cost.’
What should you pay?
‘Whatever you do, bargain shamelessly at the fabric shops (inching up 500 fils at a time), because the American lads have spoilt them rotten. Ideally you should aim to knock about 30 per cent off the price. For tailoring, expect to pay the following (no more): shirts BD3; trousers BD4; suits BD25; coats BD20-22, including silk lining, but beware: the designer name printed on the lining doesn’t mean a thing – they’re generally fakes.’
‘Shetty is good, but works better if you know what you want and supervise him during measurements. He’s a dab hand at copying designs from various men’s magazines. Hilton is my favourite tailor in the souk, but his charges are steeper (exactly twice that of other tailors). The fabric shops will recommend tailors; some are good, but it’s touch and go, so get a few opinions.’
‘Never ever buy fabric from your tailor. He’ll show you swatches, you’ll say, “Fine, I’ll have a suit made out of this one” and leave. When you come back to fetch your suit, you’ll find everything is the same, but something’s not quite right: the texture isn’t as fine as you remember it being. Reason? He charged you for the expensive swatch he showed you, but used a cheaper East European fabric to make the suit.
The colour and pattern are nearly identical, but the component mix isn’t, nor is the weave. So play it safe and take your suit length to him.’
‘Park in the Regency car park in Central Manama, and enter the souk through the Bab Al Bahrain. Wend your way up away from the Bab until you hit the fabric shops. The souk is fully operational Sat-Thu 8.30am-12.30pm and 3.30pm-7.30pm. As the days get hotter, we recommend you hit it in the late afternoon and do your trawling after dark when fabrics shimmer in shops glowing yellow, and there’s a real buzz.’
The article is good but just focusing on 2 particular retailers, and 2 tailoring shops...there are few other more shops who sells good fabrics. and also there are some good gents tailors in market. u should check it out pal ( to. whoever wrote this article ) and about the tailors i have heard about Hilton and i do agree it has a big name in market the other one i never heard about it. believe me still they will not b up to the mark.
the second thing it just got into my eyes what u wrote is that it has mentioned never buy a fabrics from tailors cause as u mentioned what u choose before stitching will not be the same. i don't think shops will do like that and if your are aware of which shops are doing it pls. let the public in Bahrain know who are they so they don't get cheated. and if your not sure who is doing it don't mention it. or this is just a marketing technique for the above mentioned couple of shops. this is what it got into my mind ....
Before u post an article just go to market and get the feedback properly on these kind activities properly and post it not to just pass by 2 big shops and post an article.
Anyways thanx mate for sharing the info....
Shirin May 14, 2009 09:31 am
Thank you so very much! A superb article and has come right in time.. After one of the tailors ruined my very costly gown I has begun to accept, that there are no good tailors here in Bahrain.
Will surely check out the ones mentioned here. Kudos to the writer and the editor.