While in Kashmir, a friend took us to meet his tailor in Srinagar. Gulzar (pictured center) is a very proper remnant of the British colonial era, swearing occassionally when called for, and making suits for all matter of diplomats, foreign aid workers and travellers. Like most encounters with local people, the sales pitch came out immediately, and I was determined not to be sold to. But then Gulzar dropped this bomb...
"God made you a man, let a tailor make you a gentleman"
I was sold.
The only thing Gulzar had a chance of making for me though was a coat. A warm, smart looking coat. That's when every issue of GQ magazine from the last however many years came out and as I described a warm collar, double breasted, English back, really sharp, he narrowed the options from the catwalks of Europe down to one. With a few special requests, he claimed to know what I wanted.
The tape measure came out and then the various bolts of fabric, mixing matching, umming and arghing. Three bearded and goggle tanned men stood around and choose colors and cuts to suit each other while we were each measured up for our respective new garments. In the end I went with the red, scorched Kashmiri-wool. Something a little bolder than black or charcoal. It felt like a gamble at the time, was it going to be too much, but anything worn with confidence can be pulled off.
And the final product? Sharp. Really sharp. For a fraction of what something similar off the shelf would have cost back home, I got a tailor made coat that will last me a long time. Probably longer than I will fit it or fit it cool.
Now I am super keen to take my new coat out for a spin, but spring had come to Kashmir by early March and since I am in Australia where it is boardshort weather I have no hope. Damn! Maybe I can get it out later in the Australian autumn before I head back to summer in Canada.
But until I can, I can't say whether or not I graduated to "gentleman" status, but if I don't it won't be the tailors fault. It's a beautiful jacket.