In this issue of this magazine we have had the privilege to write about two Bangalore shopping institutions. The older of the two—90 years old this year—is a tony store MG Road – P N Rao. They are haberdashers; makers of the bespoke suit.
The bespoke (made to order, in plain English) is increasingly a luxury. In the time of off-the-rack suits available at most department stores, the bespoke suit maker must always bring his A-game to the store. And for the past 90 years, close on a century, this Bangalorean tradition has been doing just that.
P N Rao was first established to cater to the wardrobe needs of the British.
Today, they remain a household name in the city for men’s formal wear.
With three stores in Bangalore and one in Chennai, they will soon open stores in Hyderabad and Pune. In Bangalore itself, their goal is to open one store per year.
The flagship store in the city is located on MG Road. “Being in the heart of the city, this store draws in a large NRI and international crowd,” Amit Nath, Head of Marketing and Brand Communications told us. “Whereas the outlet in Jayanagar sees more local Bangaloreans who like to shop. Their buying patterns are based on religious almanac,” he added.
P N Rao does offers its customers the option of both readymade and tailor made suits. “Readymade is for the customer in a hurry, time is critical for them. Bu tailor made is made to measure and the fit is perfect,” Nath explained. “Earlier it was about showing off the brand you wore, now it is about customisation,” said Nath.
But whether a customer chooses custom or ready-made depends on the need of the hour. “We do alter ready-to-wear suits to give our customers the perfect fit,” said Nath.
As any suit-savvy man will tell you, it is the fabric that makes the suit. And P N Rao sources its fabrics from the most reputable intrenational brands like Ermenegildo Zegna, Dormeuil, Scabal and Raymond’s. With Scabal, the finish is diamond crafted. Literally. The threads in the fabric have been polished with diamond dust.
Customers at P N Rao will not merely meet suit salesmen. They meet advisers, who will go over their requirements with them, advise them on the latest fashions; in short, make sure that you don’t order broad lapels in a time when narrow ones are the rage.
For this reason, the P N Rao sales staff are called “Customer Friend Associates”.
“We are all about convenience,” he went on to explain, “everything from the valet to the store’s temperature settings, lighting and music is chosen to create ‘suvidha’ for the customer.”
Another feature of their bespoke service is the TOC – Tailor On Call. Customers can fix an appointment with the store’s tailor either online or through the phone to meet with the tailor in the comfort of their own home, at a time best suited to them. The tailor not only comes by to take measurements, but also showcases the store. “We call it Store to Door service,” said Nath. The TOC takes ten days to stitch and deliver the suit.
Other than suits, P N Rao’s collection also includes Indo-western outfits like jodhpuris that Nath said is trending now because of the wedding season.
Eventually, the brand is looking to introduce online shopping.
If 90 years have taught this store anything, it is to be adaptable.
For example, we asked them if all their suits are black or charcoal grey?
Nath smiled. “We even have fluorescent colours in our collection,” he replied.
“We evolve. We are part of the revolution,” he concluded.