Custom suits to counter the recession

Mohan’s, whose clients include Jeter and Giuliani, donates four-figure suits to the needy.

By Niharika Mookerjee

NEW YORK: Mohan’s Custom Tailoring, a star entrepreneurship with a celebrity studded clientele of the likes of Yankees captain Derek Jeter and the former mayor of New York City, Rudy Guiliani, is assisting young men affected by Hurricane Sandy to get back on their feet.

Former NBA star Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier with Mohan Ramchandani, owner of Mohan’s Custom Tailoring.
Former NBA star Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier with Mohan Ramchandani, owner of Mohan’s Custom Tailoring.

Through the Hope Program, the company is donating 15 suits worth $1,000 each to individuals whose lives have been blighted by the super storm. As the young men navigate the difficult job market, a new suit could symbolize a renewal of confidence and assurance, and help them secure a desirable position.

The Hope Program provides a second chance to New Yorkers who have been incarcerated, distressed with a drug and alcohol problem, or unemployed due to a sickness in the family and are seeking ways to rebuild their lives.

“Everybody feels good in a new suit,” said Mohan Ramchandani, owner of Mohan’s Custom Tailoring, whose flagship store is located at 42nd Street in Manhattan, in an interview to The American Bazaar.

Donations to the Hope program began last year when expensive suits, ordered and paid for by their clients, were not picked up by them later.

“I had all these designer suits lying at the store with no one to wear. Through contact with the program, these suits were made available to the people who could not afford them. It certainly made a difference in their lives,” said Ramchandani. In the past, the Salvation Army has also benefited from his generous donations in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by the hurricane.

His own life has been touched by the American Dream, Ramchandani says. In return, he wants to send a message to all small businesses that they too can follow his precedent to shine a light in the lives of the impoverished. The will towards philanthropy proceeds from a heart-felt intention of giving back to the community from where his classic story of success emerged.

Born in Ahmedabad, India, to a family in the textile business, Ramchandani marshaled the complexities of his trade in Hong Kong, before moving to the United States in 1972, where he first set up his showroom at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel. Initially, his clients included Wall Street bankers and businessmen. Soon after, his fashion line surged after patronage from celebrity customer Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks. This stroke of good fortune brought in an endless wave of stellar basketball and baseball players into the store with legendary names such as Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Manute Bol, Jose Reyes, Bernie Williams to name only a few, and the former mayors of New York, Ed Koch and Giuliani.

In the fastidious world of fashion of sartorial whims, Ramchandani keeps ahead of the trends by customizing to every need of his client. He recalls making a jacket for Frazier that looked like cow’s skin. “I make all his suits, each one unique and exclusive, as he wears red, yellow and purple suits with matching shoes and hats,” he said.

The spirit of innovation has, likewise, helped sharpen the competitive edge as he endeavors to incorporate creative designs to keep abreast of the changes in technology and gadgets.

“For example, I had a customer who wanted a suit that would carry the weight of his iPad, and to that end, I created a special pocket in the jacket lining with extra pockets on the outside to balance out the weight of his technology,” said Ramchandani. The iPhone, too, has its own pocket.

With styles changing every decade or two, Ramchandani noted that in the 1970’s, the suits were of a classic style, which later evolved to the double-breasted jacket with pleated trousers in the 1980’s. “After that, the Italian style with broad shouldered jacket without vents at the back came in. Now the current look is for a tapered fit for both the jacket and the trousers, with no pleats or cuffs,” he commented.

The store in Manhattan has a vast and impressive selection of fabrics and colors, which are constructed into suits in the company’s Hong Kong factory after meticulous measurements are taken. The fabrics are all imported from Italian and English mills with people coming from all over the world to the store to get their suits made. Despite the success of his entrepreneurship and impressive clientele, Ramchandani retains an unaffected and homely demeanor.

 

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