Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Story of My Shirt - A Custom Made Experience

My style of fashion has always been confined to readymades, picking up that jeans (predominantly a shade of blue) and a casual T-Shirt (most probably a plain colour) . The occasion would ideally be for a birthday, Pongal or for  Diwali. Occasionally I pick up a dress that's available during a sale in Amazon/Flipkart. Thanks to a "Everyday casual wear" policy at work, I have never really bothered to get a good collection of Formal shirts and pants.


My style, lately has however been shifting towards a more formal attire, thanks to some solid advice by my good friend.  I even managed to get a nice pair of formal shirts for my birthday and I haven't ever been more convinced. Power dressing indeed. So that basically took off as a tipping point to start leaning towards wearing a formal or atleast a semi-formal attire more often.

This was when I discovered a Customized premium Shirt Store called The Bombay Shirt Company through a friend. Since it was situated close to work in Adyar, I thought of giving them a try and see how a fully customized shirt might look like. The results were pretty fantastic.

 

What can you customize in a shirt?

Well if your guesses are just size and design, you might be pretty shocked at what Bombay Shirt Company can offer. The no of customizations is 20+ including Fabric, Weave, Pattern, Collar (Style , Contrast,Stiffness) , Buttons among others. Listed below is the step by step process of the shirt customization at the store.


The Customization Process 

As soon as I began , I was handed a iPad that asked me to choose an option for each customization offered. An executive beside me the different options and how I could go about choosing the ideal shirt for myself.



The customization are as follows :
  • Fabric

It all begins with a Fabric Selection . This includes Single Ply, Double Ply, Premium, Italian Fabrics, Japanese Fabrics among others. The single ply shirts are the cheaper options and starts from 1990 INR.



The composition of this fabric includes Cotton, Linen, Tencel, Egyptian Cotton and Denims.


  • Colour

Next you choose a colour. You can be spoilt for choices here, as they pretty much have multiple shades of every colour. So if you have a specific colour in mind, high chances are that you can spot the exact one here. 
  • Pattern

Colour is followed by Pattern selection. You can choose from a checked pattern, striped pattern, Desginer prints and of course finally the standard solids.
  • The Collar

Once you are done choosing the fabric, colour and pattern of the shirt you head on to the collar portion.  If you think this is a relatively easier option was , you are once again mistaken. Turns out there are 5 types of customizations to be done in the collar portion alone.


This includes
  1. Collar Style
Collar Style has the most options including Spread Eagle, Madmen, Prince Charlie, Club, Wing and many more. Spread Eagle is the standard collar that's available in most shirts, while the Evil Pandit Collar is the one Pandit Nehru wore and been quite a style statement among many.
You also get to choose among a few options for each of these collar parts below.

      2.Collar Contrast
      3.Collar Buttons
      4.Collar Stiffness
      5.Collar Piping
  • Cuff Style

Though not immediately noticeable at first glance, the cuff style also plays an important role in the overall look. The options include the standard Single Convertible,, Double Bond ( Just like a James Bond Suit).
  • Monogram 

My most favourite part of the customization was the monogram. You can get to have your initials (upto 3 letters) stitched on the cuff or the back collar.
  • Placket 

Placket is the portion that covers the portion of the buttons. You can either choose to make it as a no background or a regular double lining or even a slim pencil version.

Here's some other customizations that you can do :

My Experience & Review of Bombay Shirt Company

The overall customization roughly takes 30 mins - 1 hour depending on the time you take to choose a colour and design. The shirt I customized was a creamish yellow colour, single ply, a regular placket one, a monogram with HKM as initials, blue buttons, a slim fit on the arms and a few other customization.




With a tailor to assist on the sizing options, the actual fit was almost perfect, exactly to my preferences. The chosen colour was spot on(exactly as shown) and I loved the fabric thickness as well. The overall price was 2200 including taxes. The delivery time of the shirt was less than 7 days, and this is great,given its manufactured as a single piece entirely on the mentioned specifications.

Some of the blends and designs available is very unique and I could see some beautiful intricate designs that I haven't really observed in the usual fashion stores like Lifestyle/WestSide/Shoppers Stop etc.

On the whole, with a fair pricing range of 2000-5000 INR (given its a premium blend with 20+ options custom tailored shirt), this definitely would be my primary choice to pick up a shirt for any planned special occasion. In case the fit is not per your liking or slightly different, you get a free replacement or you can also get the shirt altered directly in the store, if its a minor issue.
The only downside is that the general promised time for a delivery is generally 14 days for the second time order and this may not work for you if you are in a big hurry.

You can do the whole shirt selection process online in the BombayShirts Website

(The above link also helps you to get 250rs off on your first purchase when you sign up)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Entrepreneurs & Startups - The Secret Economy Boosters

A recent conversation with my best friend, who's starting her new business, made me realize a very important thing. The message she conveyed, totally changed my thought process and made me realize some of the things I may have been  probably doing wrong all along. I'm quite sure, that you might be equally guilty of this action at some point in your life. What could possibly be such an incorrect action that you haven't realized so far? Read on...



Source : https://ecowarriorprincess.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Local-Matters-Why-I-Buy-Local-Eat-Local-Support-Local.jpeg

Before we get to the actual problem, let's get a sense of the ground situation here. In any given market, the attraction, trust & eagerness to buy newly a launched Branded product and Celebrity owned/endorsed products is always pretty high. We proudly share the purchase immediately in social media and even list outs its advantages,. Despite a steep retail price (compared to a domestic/in-house brand) we do not think twice before buying it either because i) we can afford it or ii) we want to look cool iii) you just love the brand so much or iv) you may actually "need" the specific product. Absolutely nothing wrong about any of the four points though, because who doesn't love to indulge in a bit of luxury.

But in addition to it, you can also do one small thing.

Encourage and Support a friend's Business !

This could be a relative, friend or even a FB acquaintance who has started their own business .  The first thing you can do to encourage them is by buying their product. This could be anything from a book, a handmade artifact, handmade soap / homemade skin solution or even visiting their cafe/restaurant. A purchase from the friends circle alone can make a significant difference in their confidence, morality and pushes them to work harder . This allows them an opportunity to bring down costs and get more quality products at the same price, while also enabling them to grow their business.


Source : https://stampington.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/20150826_SoapParty_019.jpg

Having been given free samples and products during initial launch phases by top brands, we expect the same from our friend's startups too. Even if its a small product worth say 100Rs, we expect them to give us for free. The bigger brands with deeper pockets can splurge on such activities to expand their market base, but on the contrary it can incur significant losses to small businesses.

Criticism Helps, but don't Bargain ! 

In the rare event that you dislike the product or if it causes any adverse effects, do let them know in private about it (than raising a hue & cry in FB directly about why something didn't work). Any serious entrepreneur would take that negative comment / criticism only as a feedback to make his products better than taking it in a wrong way. It actually helps him more to understand where he might be going wrong and places to improve.

However having said that, the amount of doubts, hesitation and questioning the price point is pretty undesirable. Despite knowing its being sold for very small margins, a lot of us end up bargaining/hassle with these startups and literally force them to sell at zero profit situation. An extra few bucks may not really affect us a lot. But that little extra multiplied by a higher volume can make a real difference to that business.


The Cost of Labour

When we enquire a product's price, all we calculate is its worth of ingredients along with a small margin. We then magically come to a conclusion that its "costly" or "average price". However what we don't take into account is the time taken to make the product, cost of labelling, packaging, expensive instruments needed to manufacture the same, electricity among other things.. More importantly, we forget that there's a "labour" component to this costing. It's very wrong to ignore labour cost or rather assume labour as 0 just because the person who made it herself sells it. The technical skill needed to make any product or even write a book should be rewarded and quite handsomely as well!

Why do we need to do it & why is this important?

Most people are confined to a desk job working from 9-6 for the rest of their lives. They never aspire to do something new or take up their favourite hobby as a profession. There are very few people around you, who actually have the guts and courage to take a risk, leave a stable/high paying job and start their own business. It could be a reseller business, it could be a soap making business or even a person who wants to take up blogging full time ( be it in Travel or fashion). Nevertheless, the motive is the same. Build something wonderful from scratch, become an entrepreneur and be a successful one at it.

Impact of startups/SME's on Economy

 The top brands may contribute a large to the economy & GDP by employing several thousand workers in each firm. But these startups and SME's also play a vital part to the economy. They create a healthy market environment, find unexplored niches and in some cases produce both nature and people friendly products. Every big company in the world including HP, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook etc started out from a garage or a dorm room. They now result in controlling 70-80% of the market share in their respective industries. Just Imagine contributing to a startup's success and watch it grow multifold in a few years time . This results in three things : More contribution to the economy, growth of new market spaces and of course creation of jobs.

Spread the Love

Supporting a new business is not just about buying their stuff. It could also be in the form of subscribing to one's social media page, sharing/liking their posts , leaving valuable comments and of course spread a word about their products to your network.

So next time , along with your usual list of products, additionally pick up that beautiful handmade soap your friend made, a book your friend wrote or a jewellery / saree /clothes your friend is reselling. It will make a whole lot of difference to them.

Featured : Products made/written by my friends 

From my end, any of my friends & readers who would like their product / book / service to be featured, let me know the same in your comments.. The post here will be updated with the relevant links below.

This post is a small dedication/tribute to my best friend, Deepika who's taking up her passion of making organic, handmade skincare solutions as a full fledged successful business. This includes beautiful handmade soaps, face & body pack/powder , herbal oils among other things. (Social media links to be updated soon).