Nepali Times
Tailored for Nepalis


Dasai is a time for Nepalis to get a new set of clothes. Thanks to rapid globalisation Nepali men are breaking through the fashion glass ceiling that has long dictated women have couture and men have clothes.

No offence, but the circa 1970s safari suit, the too-tight daura suruwal and that corporate uniform of pleated trousers and polyester shirts accesorised with a garish tie, gilt tie pin, fake Rolex and white tennis socks peeping out from above leather shoes just have to go.

It just takes a well-heeled courageous step to go from mundane to marvellous. Yes, even here in Kathmandu where Men in Black suits seem to be de riguer for weddings and 'casual' translates to khakis or jeans teamed with a white t-shirt printed with a billboard size logo featuring fake crocodiles.

Whilst most wallets cannot afford the real thing it's important to be able to tell a bad fake from a good one. Just like it is to find a good men's tailor who knows his inseam from his interlock.

The valley's Savile Row is definitely Putalisadak. Both sides of the street are lined with readymade and tailoring centres that cater exclusively for men. Most stock Indian and foreign fabric along with Indian 'masters' who cut the pattern and attend to fittings. Big plate glass windows reveal clean, polished interiors-not a frill or furbelow in sight-in fact everything seems to spell out this is a man's world. These are safe havens where they can mull over an Italian silk double-breasted affair like Al Pacino in Godfather, or the Achhkan suit that Shah Rukh Khan sported in his last blockbuster.

With 25 years of menswear experience behind them, Dormeuil set up shop here six years ago. Kathmandu customers have become a lot more knowledgeable says manager Anil Bajracharya, "In the old days, customers bought whatever we ordered. Today, they demand brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Hugo Boss, Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin.You name it, and we have the guaranteed originals." He is confident that his salesmen can help customers pick exactly what they want. Measuring tape draped for ready access around the neck, they help colour blind customers settle on a complimentary shade of fabric. After the design is finalised, the in-house tailors can have a suit ready in 24 hours. A good suit costs Rs 5,000 and up, but the Dasai discount helps matters. Splurge on a stylish tie with the difference.

Just across the street, The Raymond Shop stocks the hugely popular Indian range. This is exclusive Raymond territory and no other brand is let in the door, unless worn by a customer. Park Avenue, a readymade line in suits and trousers is available in the standard colours. For a more relaxed fit, they have Parx, trendy casual wear including t-shirts, jeans and cargo pants. But if made-to-order is what you want, manager Rameshwor Shrestha guarantees the best work in town using only Raymond's material-right down to the thread. For Dasai, gift vouchers ranging from Rs 100-1000 should prod more stubborn men into a new look.

Also in Putalisadak is Reid & Taylor, the new clothiers on the block. Just a year into operations, it already has a steady middle-aged clientele who want a quietly moneyed look at bargain prices. The Indian label caters to the image conscious working man.

Just off the main road and into Bagh Bazar is Shrestha Tailors. Located directly opposite the all-girls Padma Kanya Campus, it seems a strange place to open a men-only establishment but Hari Shankar says business has not been hampered. Over a period of six years he's seen more and more Nepali men ask for English and Italian material. "But that's just for the coats," he says. "For trousers they want Indian material." It keeps the cost down. When he began, Hari Shankhar remembers, all clothes were tailored. Then came the readymade rush, but now its back to the old ways. "Except it's a lot more expensive than readymade today," he says with a faint chuckle.

Far and away from the bustle, up on the second floor of Bishal Bazar in New Road is Glamour Tailors & Clothiers-a bastion of male tailormade clothes for the last 17 years. Shahid Alam is an institution; he has fitted suits for the Valley's most prestigious names. Alam has the good taste to refrain from name dropping, although there are rumours of royal patronage. His son Safraj Alam modestly says there haven't been any complaints. Glamour also stocks a variety of readymade Indian and European shirts. This is the year of the long straight-point collar and tapered trousers that break clean at the shoes. And pleats are as pass? as safari suits.

Faux pas
. White socks with formal shoes? Not unless you're going as Michael Jackson to a costume party.
. Wear a printed tie with a printed shirt only if the look is bohemian chic.
. There's only so much a three-piece suit can disguise.
. Explore your feminine side. Real men do wear pink.
. Invest in nice shoes. Women always notice.
. Jewellery: less is more.
. Perfume is to be used sparingly.
. Never, but never, pair suspenders with a belt.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)