Made to mea­sure

From fash­ion to food, we’re all now tai­lor-mak­ing our lives. Judy Co­gan finds out why, in Dubai, one size never fits all

Friday - - Fashion -

A s this week­end kicks off the month-long style cir­cus that is the global Fash­ionWeek cal­en­dar, a sub­tle sar­to­rial rev­o­lu­tion is tak­ing place. In­stead of clam­our­ing for the loud­est lux­ury la­bels, those in the know are choos­ing a more dis­cern­ing way of sourc­ing qual­ity – by go­ing be­spoke. Pres­ti­gious names are mak­ing way for the per­sonal touch, with celebri­ties lead­ing the way.

Whether it’s Cameron Diaz in a tai­lor-made, eco-friendly gown at the Met Ball, Kim Kar­dashian show­ing off her Her­mès Birkin pock­et­book with a spe­cially com­mis­sioned paint­ing by artist Ge­orge Condo, or Kate Mid­dle­ton in her blue made-to-mea­sure polka-dot Jenny Pack­ham dress af­ter giv­ing birth last year, choos­ing cus­tomised has be­come the new non-de­sign must do. And Dubai’s le­gion of high-fly­ers are fol­low­ing suit, get­ting mea­sured up by a new breed of dress­mak­ers, tai­lors and shoe­mak­ers.

The word ‘be­spoke’ is tra­di­tion­ally as­so­ci­ated with men’s suits, but now is prov­ing big busi­ness in women’s fash­ion too. No longer con­tent with High Street Haute (where cheap but chic once ruled) or straight-off the-de­signer-peg, fash­ion­istas have been look­ing for some­thing new.

And plenty of men are also get­ting in on the act. Men’s spend­ing on lux­ury items ac­counts for 40 per cent of global sales – a fig­ure that’s grown al­most twice as fast as women’s spend­ing since 2011. On the back of hit TV shows such as Mad

Men, and as the world turns its at­ten­tion to the UAE in the run-up to the Dubai Expo, look­ing the part has be­come more im­por­tant than ever for the UAE’s suited and booted. So it’s no won­der the be­spoke suit in­dus­try in Dubai is now said to be worth $50 mil­lion (Dh185 mil­lion) a year.

Al­though the tra­di­tional back-street be­spoke suit ex­pe­ri­ence has been around for years in the many ex­cel­lent out­lets in Satwa or Bur Dubai (try Deepa’s, Whis­tle and Flute, Lobo, Kachin or Rinco’s), Dubai’s made-to-mea­sure mar­ket is quickly be­com­ing world class.

Some of Sav­ile Row’s finest – in­clud­ing As­cots and Chapels (in DIFC, Dubai Ma­rina Mall and Souk Al Ba­har), and Leonard Logs­dail near Shaikh Zayed Road (sup­pos­edly Robert De Niro’s go-to man when he’s in town) – have flocked to the emi­rate. Mean­while, web­sites like

knot­stan­ of­fer a made-tomea­sure ser­vice without the need for you to even leave your home.

And it’s the in­ter­net that means cloth­ing is now only a frac­tion of the story on the be­spoke band­wagon. So­cial net­work­ing sites are dense with de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on peo­ple’s likes and dis­likes, blogs mean that ev­ery or­di­nary per­son can be el­e­vated to the level of broad­cast­ing critic, while glob­al­i­sa­tion means that our high streets are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ho­mogenised in a way that the style-savvy are now shrink­ing away from.

As con­sumers have be­come more di­verse and de­mand­ing, big brands have be­gun to of­fer be­spoke ser­vices on an al­most un­lim­ited scale. The ‘one size fits all’ ap­proach just doesn’t cut it any more.

Burger King has been let­ting us have it our way in the UAE for years; we can de­sign our own train­ers via NikeiD; and last year Coca-Cola in­vested $100 mil­lion into Freestyle – vend­ing ma­chines that al­low us to slap our names on drinks bot­tles. You

Peo­ple are de­mand­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent, and they’re pre­pared to spend on a gift of qual­ity

can get pretty much any­thing, from cars to fur­ni­ture, with the per­sonal touch nowa­days.

Even di­ets are get­ting the madeto-mea­sure treat­ment, as health­care com­pany Be­spoke Well­ness (be­spokewell­ of­fers per­son­alised health and well-be­ing ser­vices from its base at Jumeirah Beach Ho­tel. “At ev­ery stage in life our phys­i­cal needs change and so we should adapt our ap­proach to health as we evolve,” says founder An­drew Picken.

You start with a nutri­tion and/ or physio con­sul­ta­tion (Dh400 to Dh550 each), which delves straight to the core of your health glitches and tack­les them much more ef­fi­ciently than off-the-shelf prod­ucts.

The su­per-healthy can even in­cor­po­rate their fit­ness regime into a hol­i­day. Fu­sion Fit­ness (healthand­fit­ al­lows guests to choose from a se­lec­tion of per­son­alised ac­tiv­i­ties and treat­ments – from yoga to TRX and kick-box­ing – to create their per­fect pro­gramme. So you’re not pay­ing for things you don’t want to do and you get a tai­lor-made ex­pe­ri­ence.

On a naugh­tier note, Cup ‘N’ Cakes – found at Carpe Diem la Cafette restau­rant in Mall Jumeirah – of­fers de­li­cious be­spoke cup­cakes to suit all sorts of oc­ca­sions. The founder Ni­cole Mrad started the busi­ness from her kitchen ta­ble and ad­mits that while be­spoke cakes are noth­ing new, the cus­tomer’s de­sired re­sults are be­com­ing more spe­cific and of­ten a lot more bonkers than when she started four years ago.

“From preg­nant ladies or­gan­is­ing a baby shower, to adults cel­e­brat­ing birthdays and new-job celebrations – ev­ery­one nowa­days wants to make their oc­ca­sion spe­cial,” says Ni­cole. “I’ve had re­quests for some re­ally strange things.”

Speak­ing of strange, one of the more bizarre be­spoke busi­nesses now thriv­ing is Silken Favours, which al­lows you to im­mor­talise your pet in a cush­ion (silken­ Send them a pic­ture of your pet and they’ll create a silk cush­ion out of it and send it to you any­where in the world.

“The idea came about as I wanted to create gifts that made peo­ple cry with hap­pi­ness,” says Vicki Mur­doch, founder of Silken Favours. “Peo­ple are de­mand­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent and in­di­vid­ual, and they’re pre­pared to spend on a gift of qual­ity that can be cher­ished for­ever. And a be­spoke prod­uct tells a story about you, re­flect­ing your per­son­al­ity.”

It’s the quirkier of­fer­ings that are of­ten the most in­ter­est­ing – and per­sonal. For ex­am­ple, On­line com­pany U Star Nov­els (us­tarnov­ has taken ad­van­tage of the grow­ing trend for cus­tomised

prod­ucts by tak­ing a se­ries of ro­mance nov­els and clas­sic lit­er­a­ture and of­fer­ing to per­son­alise them to in­clude you within the story.

You sim­ply an­swer a num­ber of per­sonal ques­tions; pet names, eye colour, favourite food, mu­sic, per­fume etc then se­lect one of 15 nov­els to star in. And you can do so with friends or even your favourite celebrity – yes fi­nally your happy end­ing in the arms of Brad Pitt can be re­alised.

And now you prob­a­bly want a pair of your very own unique head­phones, don’t you? No prob­lem.

As well as mak­ing them for record­ing artists world­wide, ACS sup­plies the For­mula One pit lane and any­one else who cares about qual­ity with cus­tom-made head­phones – al­low­ing you to doc­tor the sound qual­ity to your own hear­ing and de­sign the ex­te­rior.

And while you’re lis­ten­ing to your own be­spoke ear­phones, you might want to chill out in the sun without a care in the world. If that sounds like your kind of thing, the Akaryn Sa­mui Ho­tel in Thai­land ( is the place to go.

It has de­vel­oped a Sunbed Su­per­vi­sor who per­son­ally preps your skin for the sun, care­fully times your sun ex­po­sure, ad­justs your shade level and reap­plies prod­uct af­ter swim­ming and sim­ply as needed. The su­per­vi­sor will even come out at reg­u­lar, timed in­ter­vals and tell you when to turn over! The ho­tel of­fers 28 dif­fer­ent kinds of sun­screen, which can be specif­i­cally adapted to what your skin needs.

So, now there is no chance you will come back from your hol­i­day look­ing like a lob­ster. Or miss your pet while you are away. Or lack a hol­i­day read for that mat­ter – and you can carry your brand-you head­phones in the pocket of your per­fectly fit­ting tai­lor­made suit. Would you have it any other way? No, nei­ther would we!

Cameron Diaz at the Met Ball in a be­spoke Stella McCart­ney or­ganic, ecofriendly gown

Kate Mid­dle­ton glows in a be­spoke

polka-dot dress

Cus­tom cakes are noth­ing new, but they’re as pop­u­lar as ever

Silken Favours

founder Vicki Mur­doch shows off her be­spoke silk an­i­mal


Be­spoke fit­ness is big busi­ness

Cus­tom-made ear­phones are used in For­mula One

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