The suit is a power play of virtue, style and confidence. But what gives it that powerful stature? Fine materials, and impeccable design and tailoring. SS Homme’s latest collaboration with Italian brand Carlo Barbera is taking luxury suiting to a new marvel in India
By: Nikita Vivek Pawar
Posted on: June 13, 2019
“Let’s suit up!” is the only phrase that comes to mind whenever I hear or talk about suiting. The standard set by Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother or the entire cast of Suits is class apart. A suited man not only looks like he means business, but he means business in style. With international luxury brands entering the Indian market, the country is booming with choices. Having said that, there are certain niche sectors that have not been explored to their optimum capacity. Men’s formal wear is one such sector.
According to KPMG, the men’s formal apparel market in India was estimated at INR 44,500 crore in 2015 and is expected to see a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10% between 2015 and 2025. Apart from brands like Raymond, Louis Philippe, Arrow and Blackberry, the market is deficient of designers having expertise in formal clothing. Sarah and Sandeep Gonsalves founded their brand SS Homme in 2012 to fill the void of bespoke luxury suiting, men’s formal wear and groomwear. “The brand is an amalgamation of contemporary tailoring and design, with geometry and minimalism as the key. We offer a mix of Indian and western styles for discerning gentlemen and contemporary grooms,” said Sandeep Gonsalves, co-founder of SS Homme.
The Need of The Hour
On a global level, the women’s apparel percentage is way more than the men’s share. The 43% of market share that this sector has is further divided into men and boys, and formal and informal, thus making the formal men’s apparel share to approximately 6%. Unlike the west, suiting, especially in India, is an unexplored territory. “I believe that there is, and will always be, a need for formal menswear. Sure it is not more day-to-day now but with the increased amount of social activity, we do see men visiting the studio to get garments crafted for special occasions and events. Streetwear can gain popularity and does work well most of the time but timeless handcrafted garments will always be in demand,” said Mr. Gonsalves.
With the revenue in the suits segments amounting to US$ 1,417 million in 2017, the market sees an 11.5% hike in annual growth. This leads us to believe that there would be a good change in the scenario in India as well. While we have immense talents and expertise, the fabric that is used also plays an equivalent role in the making of an exceptional suit. SS Homme has been home to some of the world’s best and leading fabric manufacturers like Ermenegildo Zegna, Scabal, Dormeuil and more. Sarah and Sandeep realised the gap of the industry and invested their blood, sweat and tears to makes SS Homme what it is today. And a lot of ingeniuity.
“Sarah and I founded SS HOMME in 2012 to offer a new age approach to bespoke tailoring, and distinctive designs for contemporary grooms in India. We did so after dedicating months in England and Italy researching the best possible way to conduct bespoke consultations for patrons,” said Mr. Gonsalves. Connoisseurs of bespoke tailoring and suiting, their clientele includes Akash Ambani, topliners of the entertainment industry like Varun Dhawan, Vicky Kaushal, and Ayushmann Khurana, and cricketer Krunal Pandya.
With time and dynamic changes in the fashion industry, the construction of suits changed by losing the heavy shoulder padding, going towards lighter and more fitted silhouettes. The lapel size decreased, and the waist is more defined. SS Homme dives into the intricate detailing of making a suit made-to-order for every individual that walks into the atelier.
“Our design aesthetic is primarily minimal with geometry as key and it is our love of symmetry and uniformity which sets us apart from the rest. Additionally, the fact that we are not just a suiting brand is actually the USP of the brand. There are brands that specialize in bespoke tailoring and there are brands that are known for their design aesthetic. We believe that we have found the right balance between the two and we work constantly to evolve our designs as well as the overall experience,” Mr. Gonsalves explained.
Collaboration with Carlo Barbera
Attention to detail is what differentiates good and luxurious clothing. And so, SS Homme joined hands with a brand that holds profound knowledge and expertise in fabrics that are used to create these suits – Carlo Barbera.
Carlo Barbera is a luxury Italian fabric manufacturing company. Originated from the town of Biella, Italy in 1949, the mill was taken over by Kiton in 2010. The brand is known as one of the world’s most luxurious fabrics and materials making companies and is trusted to be one among the finest qualities. Fun fact - the yarn, after dyeing, is rested for six months before weaving, so that it regains the lost humidity, in order to obtain the best results. The collaboration between the brands also marks the formal entry of Carlo Barbera in the Indian market. “The brands decided to collaborate mutually when it was decided that Carlo Barbera was being launched in India. The potential for a collaboration between a homegrown bespoke design label and a global ultra high-end fabric brand cannot be overlooked.” said Mr Gonsalves.
The association was a mutual coalition exploring the multifariousness possible in the men’s formal wear. Producing a collection of 25 ensembles which can be easily transformed into a day to night outfit, it is a cohesive and refined compilation of the variety and versatility each piece offers. The development of the collection was also challenging, considering the plethora of options Carlo Barbera had. “From the time we decided to collaborate, it took Sarah and I three months to design and produce the collection. Getting the pattern on pattern designs and the functional detailing right takes some time and we wanted to ensure each look is perfectly designed and handcrafted,” explained Mr Gonsalves.
The collection uses Carlo Barbera’s finest range of pure worsted wools and superior Wool-Silk-Linen blends produced in Biella, Italy. The styles included are two-piece suits, three-piece suits, blazers and overcoats. Along with that, accessories designed include silk ties with hand-embroidered motifs in intricate patterns and gradients to tone-on-tone colour shades. Prints and patterns are the colour play of the collection while the traditional prints like Prince of Wales Plaid, Glen-Checks, Windowpane Checks and Pinstripe are also included.
The colour palette ranges from strapping corporate blues and greys to summer-inspired shades of green, mauve and sea blue. The suits are perfected with horsehair canvassing that makes the garment crease-resistant and resilient. Each garment incorporates anti-cling Bemberg lining made from natural fibres that enhances breathability and comfort while being 100% biodegradable. As art shouldn’t be restricted, this one of a kind 22-style collection will be available indefinitely at the SS HOMME.
While only selective patterns and prints are considered formal enough for a corporate workplace, all the designs in the collection seem to be wearable across the spectrum. It is never easy to create a collection so heavy on prints and patterns. As every unique venture will have numerous challenges and hindrances, Mr Gonsalves told us about the difficulties they faced during the process, “The pattern on pattern design for each style was the most challenging bit since there are various beautiful patterns offered by Carlo Barbera. We worked with several different permutations, and after spending the right time on each look, we were able to achieve exactly what we had set out to achieve.”
After a powerful and artistically driven collaboration with one of the most prestigious global brands, what comes next would be an important decision for the brand. The luxury menswear atelier seems to be all set to try a different spectrum. “We will soon start working on our Winter Festive 2019 collection comprising of contemporary Indian looks for grooms,” divulged Mr Gonsalves.
The immaculate geometry of structure, the richness of the fabric used and the finesse required makes the foundation of power suiting. Let the experts handle it.