Men

An INTERVIEW with Samrat Amarnani

L’Officiel Arabia meets Samrat Amarnani, Sartorial Director at Collars & Cuffs
Reading time 11 minutes
Samrat Amarnani, Sartorial Director at Collars & Cuffs

Collars & Cuffs is a Dubai-based concierge service for high-end bespoke menswear, well-known for dressing the successful man with both formal and leisure wear ranging from suits and blazers to shirts and chinos.

The Collars & Cuffs journey began in 1940 when a bespoke tailor had a vision that would reinvent men’s custom-made suits and formal wear. He set new standards of craftsmanship to build an ambitious new family tradition that would create a class of its own for generations to come.

The best thing is to give Mr Amarnani, Sartorial Director at Collars & Cuffs, the floor so that he can tell us about the power of bespoke tailoring and the story of Collars & Cuffs.

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Why did you launch a high-end tailoring brand?

SA: Though men’s style and fashion have always been my passion, the reason for launching Collars & Cuffs surpasses that. Textile and tailoring have been part of my family’s DNA for a long time, with my great-grandfather starting his own tailoring business in 1940. Before I actually thought of starting my own brand, I used to get my suits made from different local tailors. The end result was that I was either not satisfied with the level of service or the fashion advice that I was given, or there was an apparent problem with the fit of the garments. My discontentment with the services actually led me to think of having my own tailoring brand. I saw this dissatisfaction as an opportunity, especially since I knew the criteria to be a really good tailor. 

What makes a bespoke suit more special than a made-to-measure (MTM) suit? 

SA: Bespoke tailoring is unique and knows no limitations. It is actually imagination portrayed into a wearable piece of art that is crafted by a Master tailor, usually with over 25 years of experience. It is, therefore, a piece that is meticulous and exclusive. An MTM, on the other hand, is limited in its styling and fit accuracy as it modifies a pre-existing garment and size pattern which results in around 70% of the accuracy demanded by bespoke tailoring.

Does a bespoke suit look, in appearance, different from a made to measure one? 

SA: Yes, a bespoke suit looks and feels totally different, especially for those who are used to perfect fits and seek unique designs and styles in their suits. From the exterior of the suit, the primary way to see the difference would be in the fit and lack of a finishing touch. Many wrongly assume that if the button of the suit closes, the sleeve length is okay, and the shoulders look about right, then the suit is good to go. However, not everyone knows that there's a lot more that goes into making a perfect suit. If the same person wearing a made-to-measure suit would try on a well-tailored, bespoke suit he would be able to tell how the bespoke one further enhances and flatters the wearer. The beauty of bespoke is also that the suit is fully customized to the person’s individual taste, so you would notice the minor details that make his suit special and one-of-a-kind.

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Why is it important to have a custom-made suit?

SA: I have met so many men who opt for ready-to-wear suits and absolutely hate wearing them. Because of this, they find any reason or excuse to not wear a suit when it isn’t required. A well-fitted, bespoke garment, on the other hand, will never feel constricting nor uncomfortable. In fact, you will look forward to wearing them because they will make you look and feel your best at all times. A perfect suit drapes over the wearer’s body like a second skin and enhances the appearance like no other. 

What makes bespoke suits a good investment?

SA: A bespoke suit at Collars & Cuffs is made by hand with the finest natural fabric chosen specifically by the wearer. It is an investment in time and quality that results in a more pleasurable experience and greater longevity of the garment. Unlike most, our tailors don’t create garments made from synthetic fabrics, which are very harsh on the environment. In addition, ready-to-wear suits usually last fewer wears and tend to go out of style quicker. 

Walk us through Collars & Cuffs’ unique six-step experience.

SA: For us at Collars & Cuffs, just as important as perfecting the suit is perfecting our customer journey. Our six-step experience comprises of the following:

Step #1: MEET YOUR CONCIERGE

From the moment you enter Collars & Cuffs, your personal concierge will want to know everything there is to know about your tastes and preferences.

Step #2: YOUR DESIGN & FABRIC CHOICE

Limitless design options await you from a selection of over 5,000 fine Italian and English fabrics as well as style options that range from the type of collar to the number of pockets. What’s more, you have a say in the lining, the cut, and accompaniments that would define your ensemble. 

Step #3: IT’S COMING TOGETHER

One moment that excites us every time is when we actually see a customer’s bespoke suit taking form. At this stage, your suit concierge makes the most critical decisions in your garment’s shape and stitch, joining each hand-cut component together. 

Step #4: THE SHADOW TRIAL

Your concierge will offer his final suggestions on styling and make modifications as per your feedback before your bespoke suit is finished.

Step #5: SUITING UP – THE FINISHED SUIT

The finished bespoke suit will be delivered to you in a fine Collars & Cuffs suit bag. The lining, accessories, and custom shirt, with your monogrammed initials, will all wonderfully complement your concierge custom suit. Rarely does a finished suit require any alterations, but if you desire a tighter fit or a cuff tucked further, your concierge will make the modifications for you. 

Step #6: IT DOESN’T END HERE 

Our services don’t end upon delivery. To ensure the long life of your custom-made suit and its durability, we share with you important suit care guidelines. After all is done, we look forward to your next visit and ask you to share a few words with us about your experience.

Photo courtesy of Marzoni, available exclusively at Collars & Cuffs

What is the best fabric for summer suits?

SA: We have a large variety of summer fabrics as the UAE is a hot country and the weather remains warm for over eight months a year. There are plenty of options for this bright season as the fabrics come in various weights and blends. It is best to choose one based on where and when it will be worn most.

We usually recommend a classic lightweight wool for a more formal occasion, a blend of wool, silk or linen for a semi-formal look, and a vibrant linen or cotton blend for a casual outing. It also depends on the preference and requirement of the wearer. 

What is a turnaround time for 2 or 3-piece suit at Collars & Cuffs?

SA: The average turnaround time for a suit is three weeks. As we have a lot of overseas clients, who have short stays in Dubai, we also started offering an express service with quicker execution. However, the exact turnaround time for either service may vary slightly based on current production at the time of purchase. 

What is good to know when choosing a suit style for your body shape? 

SA: There is a science behind creating the perfect suit. A good tailor has the ability to create illusions of a more flattering body composition by recommending the best fabric color and pattern for your individual body shape and size. The right suit fabric paired with the perfect style and appropriate jacket and trouser length will create the ideal balance without making you appear too slim or heavy, or disproportionately too tall or short. Your bespoke suit is an investment in your appearance and I guarantee it will be your favorite purchase if it fits perfectly and makes you feel like a million dollars. It is about the boost of confidence that good clothing has the power to impart.

When adding the finishing touches, what is most important to pay attention to?

SA: A rule of thumb I like to follow when choosing finishing touches is picking the right color combinations. During the initial stage, one must pick the buttons, lining, and thread color to complement the suit fabric. Once the suit is ready, one must accessorize to further enhance the overall look by always making sure they go well together. Socks should match the trousers, shoes should match your belt, and your watch should match your cufflinks, to state a few.

Photo courtesy of Marzoni, available exclusively at Collars & Cuffs

Tell us about current trends. 

SA: From this year’s Pitti Uomo, I’ve noticed a surge in popularity of earth tone fabric colors such as military green, taupe, and khaki. Trendsetters are leaning towards more casual looks such as cuban-collared shirts, and loosely-fit pleated trousers made with more lightweight fabrics, such as linen blends. There is also an homage to retro styles such as wide-lapel jackets and high-waisted trousers being paired with vintage frames, suspenders, and tassel loafers.

Photo courtesy of Marzoni, available exclusively at Collars & Cuffs

What is your favorite trend of all time?

SA: Certainly the wider lapels on a jacket; a definite way to stand out from the crowd without essentially being loud. They add a lot of character to the wearer’s overall look.

What are the biggest challenges of starting a business?

SA: Entrepreneurial journeys are as enriching as they are challenging and interesting. The biggest challenge for me with Collars & Cuffs is having to wear multiple hats. I personally excel at the fashion and tailoring side of the business, but you initially have to do it all: accounting, HR, inventory management, and so many other minor tasks that come in the way of the fun side of business. That’s why it's so important to love what you do. It's what gets me through the mundane side of things and keeps me optimistic at all times. 

The best lesson you’ve learnt along the way?

SA: Through the journey of Collars & Cuffs, I’ve learnt that the key to success is what you make of your failures. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to make mistakes. A lot of them. However, every mistake is a lesson in disguise. You learn from them and march ahead.

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Samrat Amarnani, Sartorial Director at Collars & Cuffs

Which tips would you give to those who would like to follow in your footsteps? 

SA: A business is only as good as its team, so my number one tip would be to build a strong work family. We all share the same vision and passion for what we do and that is what has led Collars & Cuffs to success. 

Tell us about the importance of giving back to society and the world. How do you do it?

SA: I believe that every human being has a moral obligation to contribute to society in any way possible. The same applies to my business. At C&C we encourage customers to give us any garments they no longer use so they can be up-cycled and then given to those in need. A percentage of our profits also goes towards sponsoring the education of disadvantaged youth with an aim to better qualify them for employment opportunities, thus helping them create a better future for their community.

To be more sustainable as a brand, we specifically use ethically sourced fabrics, which are made from natural raw materials such as cotton, wool, horn and so on. As a retail business, we also make efforts to recycle and avoid the unnecessary use of plastic and paper. 

What’s next for Collars & Cuffs?

SA: I can not reveal much just yet, but we are currently working on an exciting new product range that we are sure our existing clients will really enjoy. We are hoping to launch this by the end of summer. 

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