Friday, November 05, 2004

ADVENTURES IN CLOTH - Raja Fashions

My visit today to Raja Fashions was part of the inspiration for this blog. I heard about Raja through word of mouth, and through the valuable AskAndyAboutClothes and StyleForum. It appeared as if the members' experience with Raja was limited. The press clippings from his site were promising, so I decided to play guinea pig.

I made an appointment just a day in advance and they were happy to accommodate me at their hotel. They were taking orders at the Marriott Hotel in Kensington. I wasn't certain I would like being fitted in a hotel, but the tailors were very friendly and helpful, and put me quickly at ease. They had three tailors (including Raja himself) and a steady stream of customers throughout my visit.

One of the things that impressed me most was the manner in which Amer, the man helping me, guided me to decisions rather than being confrontational or demanding. I knew that I was interested in a few garments, but needed some advice. Rather than letting me pick and be disappointed when the final product came through, or steering me strongly, he dropped morsels of knowledge in my path to lead me to a smart decision.

My wardrobe is not extensive. I work in the print media world and, even in London, it is a decidely low in formality when it comes to attire. Suits are worn, but rarely with ties, and suit jackets are far too frequently paired with jeans. Bad idea. I would consider myself more of a classic style man. If I'm going to be spending money on clothes, I want it to be good, wise money, and I want the garment to last, rather than some of the moment polyester from the mall (or the high street).

Because of all of this, it made sense for me to build my wardrobe through jackets and trousers, a less-formal, but still classic approach to dressing well. Amer showed me some fantastic tweeds, as requested. There was a medium houndstooth with orange windowpane detail (trust me, it was fantastic), endless herringbones, plaids, solid colors (as solid as a tweed can be) and on and on.

I was particularly taken by a houndstooth, but Amer advised that with my pale skin and dark brown hair, it was too busy. I trust the man, and I can see why he is correct. That left me with a light brown, faint herringbone, a multipurpose fabric that will look good with jeans and various trousers. The lining will be a rich burgundy. The styling/cut is "Brooks Brothers" three button-his term, I thought it was called a classic three-where the top button rolls with the lapel. Notched lapels (button hole on the left). Slanted pockets and ticket pocket. Side vents. English silhouette.

As for the trousers, a flannel seemed in order. The greys were a bit too lifeless (and easy to find elsewhere), so I went with a charcoal brown. That left me a third of the way there...

I need another summer weight suit. Not as necessary in London, but I'll be in New York next summer, and, well, it gets hot. Amer quickly pulled a navy blue with lighter blue windowpane, which is classy, but just unusual enough to be noticeable. The lining, in bizarre English style, will be a bright blue. I wanted something different here, as all my suits are growing to be similar, so I went with a semi-peaked lapel, two button, with everything else the same as above.

I have big hips. There, I've said it. They're huge, and stick out in an odd way on my otherwise thin frame (5'11' 145 lbs). They make pleats a necessity. Also, turnups help to balance, so I am having those done on both trousers. Throw in a watch pocket, buttons for braces, and you're all set.

I'm also in need of shirts. There seem to be a lot of options out there, which I hope to get to in future guinea pig projects, but I wanted to try Raja's shirtmaking, and Amer was offering me a good package deal. I won't say how much, but I'm very pleased at the cost. I selected material for six shirts, all 100% cotton: two sea island white, one sea island blue, one sea island beige/brown, one italian blue stripe red edging, and one white pinstripe.

Collars will be medium spread, no pockets, french cuffs, monogram on the bottom left.

Needless to say, I'm helping the wardrobe along, but not the bank balance. Amer said they'll deliver the first suit and shirt in 3-4 weeks, allowing me to make requests for changes on the following garments. News to follow in due course, including pictures.

3 Comments:

At November 5, 2004 at 3:32 PM, Blogger Jose Anes said...

Congratulations on your new blog, and on your new clothing selection.

I love to learn how to make informed decisions about clothing, and will stop by the blog from time to time.

I wish I could find a tailor like the one you mentioned close by.

 
At November 5, 2004 at 4:05 PM, Blogger Chorse said...

Thanks! This company makes trips around the UK, the US, and Europe, so it's possible they'll be coming to somewhere near you. Their tour info is on the website: http://www.raja-fashions.com/all.html. Though it looks like they're taking a break around the end of the year, my tailor mentioned they'd be back later in the year.

 
At November 11, 2004 at 7:03 AM, Blogger chocoball said...

Congratulations on the purchases and great blog. I live in Hong Kong, but I have not used Raja before. Remember to post some pics and comments about the fit and the fabrics on styleforum. :)

 

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