There is always a good reason to get dressed to impress here in Abu Dhabi. Whether you are out for a slap-up meal at a top restaurant helmed by a celebrity chef, courting a big-business client, attending an important family gathering or glitzy bash, or off to the races as the ultra-glamourous F1 roadshow roars back into town, it is great to be cut to strut.
Luckily for us, the UAE is home to a host of top-of-the-line tailors who are made to measure your every need. So, style-conscious gents and glamorous girls look no further, for the hot fashion spots to make sure you always look the part, whatever the occasion.
Style profile: International tailor Michael Andrews
From the Big Apple to the UAE’s capital, globe-trotting tailor Michael Andrews remains a cut above the competition.
The driving force behind Michael Andrews Bespoke, which boasts exclusive clientele ranging from award-winning actors, musicians and world-class athletes to Fortune 500 CEOs, is seen as the height of fashion in New York. But that hasn’t stopped enterprising Andrews sharing his sartorial skills in Abu Dhabi for the last two years.
The capital is one of just three cities in the world, along with Washington DC and Dubai, in which Andrews and his top team make their bespoke services available outside of their New York base on a quarterly basis. Michael Andrew Bespoke has just completed a two-day stint offering its high-calibre services at The St. Regis Bar Library, inside the luxurious St. Regis Abu Dhabi hotel and are set for a December return.
We caught up with garment guru Andrews himself to get some top tips on how to stay sharp on the UAE heat.
Q: Why did you decide to branch out to Abu Dhabi?
A: “We have been coming to Abu Dhabi since November 2015. We had a number of clients in New York who work for Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). They had been asking us to come to the UAE for several years. Once we agreed to come, our first day in the UAE was our biggest sales day in the company’s history. It was immediately obvious this would be a great market to serve and we are delighted to partner with the St. Regis Abu Dhabi.”
Q: How different is the UAE market from New York’s?
A: “The styles are very similar between the two markets since our clients in the UAE frequently travel internationally and are familiar with current fashion trends.
“The most notable difference is that our Emirati clients wear their suits less frequently than our clients in New York because they generally only wear them when travelling abroad. As such, they tend to choose more luxurious cloth but order fewer suits overall. Our expat clients are very similar to our New York clients -- they tend to wear suits every day so they focus on the performance and durability of the cloth they select.”
Q: What’s the advantage of a tailored or bespoke suit over one off the rack?
A: “The benefits of a bespoke suit are considerable. The most important is obviously the fit. Nothing looks and feels better than a garment that is truly made just for you. Second is the selection of fabrics. We have over 20,000 fabrics to choose from so you are certain to find something unique and special. Third is the ability to customise your suit. You can pick your linings, buttons, lapel style, collars, cuffs, etc. The options are limited only by one’s imagination. With off-the-rack, you are limited by what the store has to sell.”
Q: What are the differences between bespoke and made-to-measure outfits?
A: “Made-to-measure uses existing stock size patterns that have been modified for a limited number of adjustments like sleeve length and waist size. It is also restricted in the styling details that can be selected. In contrast, bespoke is about doing everything that is needed to ensure the ideal fit for a client and giving the client exactly what he (or she) wants. The best analogy is that made to measure is like ordering off a menu in a restaurant. Bespoke is having your own private chef to cook whatever you want.”
Q: How important is the fabric you use?
A: “It is one of the “Four C’s” of bespoke: Cut, Cloth, Craftsmanship and Client. Cloth is the foundation upon which the garment is built, and the characteristics of the cloth often determine the tailoring approach used. For example, a summer-weight hopsack should be crafted using a lightly structured Neapolitan style of tailoring, while a beefy 12 ounce English worsted or a rigid mohair cloth calls for more canvassing and structure.”
Q: Are there particular styles of suits that work better for certain occasions – ie, a wedding or a big job interview?
A: “The first rule of public speaking is to know your audience and the same holds true for fashion and tailoring. The occasion should dictate the style of one’s dress. A wedding or interview generally demands a classic, formal look – stick with dark solid colours. Unless, of course, it’s a beach wedding or you are interviewing at a high-tech start-up. Then you should opt for something a bit more casual and relaxed.
Q. Have you seen an increase in demand for your services as men, in particular, become more style conscious?
A: “Menswear is at an interesting crossroads right now. On the one hand, men are more style conscious than ever, which is a great thing. On the other hand, there has been a steady march toward the ‘casualisation’ of clothing. In too many cases, jeans and hoodies are passing as appropriate office attire. As bespoke tailors, our job is to help our clients look their best in all situations.
This is why we offer exquisite sport coats, trousers, shirts, raincoats, etc. for the guy who doesn’t wear a suit every day. We are launching bespoke jeans and suede jackets this winter to further help our clients dress well in less formal occasions. Of course, the best thing we offer is our honest and helpful styling advice. We are personal stylists as much as we are tailors.”
Michael Andrews Bespoke, www.michaelandrews.com.
Abu Dhabi’s Top Trendsetters
Ascots and Chapels
This classic English brand has been the perfect fit for the dapper gent since 1871 – and is now on top of the trends worldwide. The bespoke tailor has two branches in Abu Dhabi, at The Galleria and at Al Raha Mall, and such is its global reach you can even order a garment in the emirate and pick it up at the Mayfair branch in London if you are a bit of a jet-setter. Getting the fully bespoke suit that is perfect for you involves four appointments; first choosing the right fabric and fit based on your size and posture, plus three more fittings which will see your suit hand-cut to your measurements before being hand-stitched in a studio. The whole process takes 80 to 100 hours of work from the team of tailors, so determined are they to be a cut above the rest.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-6pm. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 676 1001); Also at Al Raha Mall, Channel Street (02 556 1767).
Allure Fine Tailoring and Fabrics
Previously known as Abu Dhabi New Tailors, before being rebranded as part of their own makeover in 2013, Allure Tailoring has been ensuring the emirate’s men look their best since 1981. The talented team aim to bring the latest techniques and trends from Milan and London to Abu Dhabi. A big part of their success is carefully selecting the finest fabrics from all over the planet to use in their designs, making use of the very best silks and wools. After all, a suit can only be as good as what is put into it.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri 2pm-10pm. Al Hashemi Building, Muroor Road (02 634 4990).
Al Qusoor Group
Looking to dress to impress? Well, this place pretty much has the market sewn up.
Al Qusoor Group has built up a reputation as the UAE’s leading custom women’s fashion tailor stretching back nearly 40 years – growing their workforce from five to more than 200 in that time. The company, which now has nine branches in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, was initially set up to serve the Emirati community, and the distinctive Arabian flair and elegance is still prominent in its colourful designs, but now beautiful garments are crafted to suit all nationalities. Wherever you hail from, you can be guaranteed top service here. The fashion gurus specialise in gowns and party dresses, made using traditional sewing and stitching techniques, with most garments being hand-stitched by them.
Open Sat-Thu 9.30am-1.30pm and 4.30pm-10.30pm, Fri 5pm-9pm. Various locations, including: Airport Road (02 445 2120).
Scallywags & Rogue Tailors
Abu Dhabi may be bursting at the seams with fine tailors, but these guys will (quite literally) go the extra mile for their customers. If you are in need of a flashy new suit, but can’t get away from the work, they will come to you. As part of their travelling service, the expert team will come to your office or home and begin choosing the materials and measuring up.
You will also be guided through fabric selections before it is time for your very own bespoke garment to be cut. After your suit is partially completed, there will be a fitting (or two) to make final adjustments necessary. Once the process is completed, a delivery date can be agreed.
Open Sat 11am-6pm, Sun-Thu 9am-7pm. Delma Street Building, Al Damouj Street (02 448 0535).
The Custom Shop
This Al Waha Mall venue describes itself as a one-stop shop for every sartorial need. Catering for both men and women, they really go to great lengths to ensure a top result. The forward-thinking firm blend traditional tailoring methods with hi-tech techniques. Customer measurements are digitized and a 3D image of their precise measurements is created to ensure a perfect fit every time. After an order is made, highly-skilled tailors use lasers to cut each piece straight from the cloth in true bespoke fashion. The process takes three to four weeks to allow for each handmade piece to precisely fit each individual customer, ensuring you’ll have some very unique threads for your next shindig or business meeting.
Open Sun-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10pm-11pm. Al Wahda Mall, Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 666 7147).
Not too happy with your own wardrobe? Then make your way to Madinat Zayed Mall store The Wardrobe for a personal bespoke tailoring experience. So what is it that sets this place apart? Well, it has its own hand-picked, in-house tailors allowing for full control of every aspect of the process. The Wardrobe also believes the little things can make a big difference. The tailors offer high-quality mother of pearl buttons as standard on shirts and also provide the best possible buttons for their suits. Services on offer include bespoke tailoring, monogrammed ties and cufflinks. The classic British personal tailoring service enables suits, jackets, trousers, waistcoats and eveningwear to be made to an individual’s exact specifications.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-1.30pm and 4.30pm-10pm, Fri 5pm-10pm. Madinat Zayed Mall, Muroor Road, Madinat Zayed (02 635 3223).