Black tie in Delhi

September 22nd, 20098:31 pm @

It may not have been the Vaish I was looking for, but they did a fine job

I threw a lot of things into my backpack when I left Australia for India. Oddly, a dinner jacket was not on the packing list along with the dental floss and iPod. So when an invitation for a charity ball said “black tie” I was in a bit of a fix – the one and only suit I’d brought with me was certainly not going to cut the mustard at an event featuring the cream of Delhi’s diplomatic crop. There was one caveat, which said that “national dress” was also appropriate. I stopped to think what “Australian national dress” might mean and was left with images of a beer-stained rugby jersey, shorts and flip flops. If the suit wasn’t going to cut it, that outfit would get me arrested.

I needed a tuxedo.

If this wasn’t India I’d simply present myself front and centre at a menswear store and hire an outfit for the night. This, however, is India so I was left with the problem of finding a thoroughly Western outfit in a thoroughly Indian city.

After a few inquiries it became clear that the only option available was to have the thing made, which would actually be cheaper than buying one back home, with the added advantage that no-one else would have done any unspeakable things in the trousers. Despite this, I was still left with the dilemma of finding an Indian tailor who was comfortable making a tuxedo.

Further enquiries turned up one name – Vaish. Ex-Savile row, decades of experience, quality service. He was the go-to man when you wanted a suit, and he did tuxedoes. Vaish was also surprisingly easy to find, despite my rather vague directions: Connaught Place, next to the cinema.

Inside was a modest store that looked like any other Indian tailor across the country, bolts of material, a few long tables and a bunch of blokes milling about. Luckily when it comes to a tuxedo your options as far as material (wool) and colour are pretty limited. Friends had advised – rather strongly – against a cream jacket a la Connery so I was left with the Henry Ford option, any colour so long as it was black.

After a quick but comprehensive measuring I was on my way, with an appointment card for a fitting in a few days. Happy that my sartorial situation was in hand I headed home, albeit with a nagging doubt that all was not quite right. Stories I’d head about Vaish didn’t match with my own experience. There was no long involved process of material selection, nor was any tea offered. There were very few Italian wools on offer and there was definitely no certificates on the wall from Savile Row. I dismissed the worries out of hand.

“Come on,” I said to myself, “how many tailors named Vaish can there be next to the cinema at Connaught Place?”

Two, as it turns out.

It’s not uncommon in many parts of the world for someone to set up shop near a successful outlet and use a similar name. Open a successful restaurant called “Double Happy Lucky” in Hong Kong and pretty soon the street is knee-deep in restaurants named along similar lines, all hoping to cash in on clueless tourists clutching their guidebooks.

In my case I’d gone to D. Vaish next to the Regal cinema, not Vaish next to the PVR cinema. A call a few days later to the original Vaish confirmed my suspicions – Mr Vaish himself told me that they were in no way affiliated with the place I had gone to and he hoped I hadn’t placed an order. He suggested I try to cancel and he would do his best to make good anything I’d lost.

It was a very generous offer but I declined as it was unfair to the original tailor and, anyway, from the first fitting I had they seemed to be doing a pretty decent job with the tuxedo. If I wasn’t unhappy with their work, I could hardly complain that I hadn’t done my research better.

So there you go, if you’re looking for the original Vaish he’s off Connaught Place next to the PVR cinema. D. Vaish is on Connaught Place next to the Regal cinema.

It’s so far so good with the suit, although the final fitting and surviving the ball will be the true test – of the suit and myself.

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