When Ashok Ramchandani came to Dubai in 1976, his first job in the emirate was to work alongside his uncle who inducted him into the world of bespoke tailoring. Two years later, Ashok joined his father who had set up a trading business that dealt in electronics and textiles. Given his background in bespoke tailoring and his subsequent venture into the textile business, by 1981, Ashok decided to open his own bespoke tailoring company called Kachins.
A 600-square foot facility in Bur Dubai was staffed with only seven employees and focused on menswear. Nearly four decades on, that business has scaled considerably. Joining Ashok, are his sons Ravi and Anil who is the director of business development for the company. Between them, Kachins has now grown to include six showrooms across the UAE including the flagship store in Bur Dubai, and stores in Dubai Marina, Business Bay, Jumeirah and Abu Dhabi. Explaining the decision not to venture into malls, Ravi says, “Malls are very different from our concept. We want to be a standalone store. In a mall, people shop off the rack. They go in, they pick up things and they leave. We need multiple fittings and people have to come back to us. So it is more convenient to have a high-street location.”
The number of employees at Kachins has risen to nearly 140 which includes its master tailors and even a dedicated quality control and research department. The main tailoring manufacture is still located in Bur Dubai. “Our products today include fully bespoke suits and shirts, exclusive fabrics sourced from Italy, Switzerland and England, ready-to-wear ethnic collections, ceremonial wear and accessories too,” says Anil. At the core of the business, Kachins focuses on fabrics. Some of those on offer include Scabal, Holland & Sherry, Zegna and Thomas Mason. “We exclusively represent a few of the finest internationally-renowned fabric makers. Wools, linens, seersuckers are a few of the fabrics that we have available.
“The fabric used for a particular piece of clothing depends on its purpose. For example, is the suit intended to be a business suit to a casual summer jacket or does the customer want a beautiful ceremonial tuxedo? For the winter wardrobe, we also have cashmere and vicuna fabrics,” says Ashok.
The wide range of fabrics allows Kachins to tailor suits at varying price points that could range from a Dhs1,800 jacket to a Dhs50,000 bespoke jacket using vicuna fabrics.
While the master tailors at Kachins will make home and office visits across the UAE, the second-generation of the business are driving the brand’s international expansion, alongside a newfangled social media and e-commerce push. “We have recently started our visiting tailor services in cities internationally. We are very soon going online into e-commerce where our bespoke services are going to be available across the globe with just a click of a button,” says Anil.
Ashok has seen menswear in Dubai evolve over the last four decades. He says that customers today, unlike those in the early years of the business, favour contrasting jackets and trousers, bolder colours and are also more adventurous when it comes to accessorizing. For the sartorially conscious, though not completely clued-in customer, Kachins offers consultation services too. “Even if you have no idea about what you want, our experts will sit down and understand your preferences and advise you.”