Silhouette Tailoring is attempting to revive the bespoke from its little shop in Riverdale.
While the practice may be slightly dated, Nasir Naebkhil is doing all he can to give the art a fresh new go. With a nod to the past through an old Singer table displayed in the window, Nasir is hoping he can appeal to younger clientele who can surely learn to appreciate the aesthetic benefits of made-to-measure.
My limited patience and general nonchalance to daily dress renders me a typical off-the-rack-type shopper, but Nasir makes a good sell for why custom clothing, especially for special occasions, can be a viable option. And it's not as expensive as you might think.
"It depends, but I can make most pants for $130 to $200, and shirts for about the same; $120 to $180," Nasir says. "Especially if you bring me the fabric that you choose, you can get exactly what you want, made perfectly to fit you."
He shows me one of his customer's requests; a pair of grey tweed drop-crotch trousers. The crotch looks like it would practically land at the knee, but I guess the runway-inspired customer is always right, huh?
Nasir tells me he got his artistic start at a young age as one of seven children with several creative, entrepreneurial-types to look up to. He was born in Kabul, later moved to Islamabad with his family, and then settled in Toronto about 12 years ago. Having studied design before moving to Canada, he resolved to launch his own business after finding the right neighbourhood. He looked at Yonge and Eglinton and High Park, but decided that Riverdale, especially, was in need of a skilled tailor.
"There's a dry cleaner across the street," he points out. "But they don't really do alterations." Indeed, most of the tailors around the city offer alterations simply as part and parcel of their dry cleaning business, and few specialize in custom creation. Or women's clothing, Nasir adds.
He's particularly fond of designing for women, and even offers a select few items ready to go off a small rack by the front of the store. He shows off a very Mad Men-esque cherry red cocktail dress ($95), and a cute sateen skirt with a front-affixed bow for $45. "I've already had a few requests for this one," he says, as he returns the skirt to the rack. "Women seem to like it."
The only thing that Nasir doesn't do at the moment is custom suits, largely because he's a one-man operation and the project can get quite expensive. "I try to keep my prices standard," he says. "Hems for $12, that sort of thing." The cost for a custom dress or garment obviously depends on a variety of factors, and it's best to meet with Nasir for a consultation.
But proof of his creative prowess requires just a glimpse of his stylishly designed shop, and you can check on his seams via a quick inspection of the garments he has on offer. If you ask Silhouette, it seems bespoke is headed for its second wind.
Photos by Mauricio Calero