Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, London, makes hand-made bespoke suits and shirts using traditional tailoring techniques. Its co-founder Mahesh Ramakrishnan was recently on a panel that was about social entrepreneurship, where he recounted the tale of how his company could make a difference to tsunami victims in Tamil Nadu by teaching them coat-making.
“Our coats are fully handmade with floating canvases. All chests are hand felled and lapels and collars are hand padded. Edge tapes, hems and linings are completely felled by hand. Buttonholes are sewn with silk thread by hand. Trousers are made entirely by hand with hand-sewn curtained waistbands,” informs the company site. On its Facebook page, you will find plenty of informative posts; and there is also Sachin stopping by the showroom!When launching Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, did Mahesh and his brother Suresh think of ‘social entrepreneurship’? A fancy phrase, Mahesh shrugs off, during a brief interaction with YourStory. “When we started off, it was about
making an impact in people’s lives, as well as doing something which we are proud of. And we wanted to make sure that people who are doing it are also proud of what they do.”
To strive for excellence, people have to be proud about what they are doing, reasons Mahesh. “They have to feel they are making an impact. So when you give them an outlet – which, in our case, was that they were making suits for Hollywood stars, or for heads of state – they feel very proud. We tell them that someone very important has worn something that they make.”
Mahesh talks about sharing customer letters with the workers, and thus creating a system of craftsmen who are proud of what they do. “We give them the tools; we give them the way to express themselves.”