Friday, 9 September 2016

The Wedding Posts: Getting the Groom’s outfit

As my wedding anniversary fast approaches (two years next week, if you can believe it!) I’ve been remembering my wedding preps all over again (thank god that’s all over), and remembered a few posts I meant to write around the wedding time and never got around to.

I don’t normally post much about men’s outfits primarily because I don’t know much about them, and also because I haven't needed to buy many Pakistani/Indian style men’s outfits in the past, so I’ve stayed away from the topic. I also have noticed that while there is plenty of information out there for women to order their bridals, there is a lot less for the men's side of things - so here are my experiences. (And also, this ended up being a longer post than I thought, so be warned!)

I thought I’d post this one first out of the 'wedding posts' because with Eid coming up, I’ve been pestering my husband to make time to shop for his clothes and not leave it last minute – not for the first time! So inevitably this brought to mind the headache that came with buying my husband’s wedding outfit, which seemed to be more drama than mine. Unlike my outfit, which I spent about 2-3 months designing with the designer I used, and the step-by-step involvement I had with my outfit, my husband managed to leave his outfit nearly to the last minute, mostly because he assumed that he'd be able to go to a shop quickly and fine something to wear!

Little did we know that when it comes to men’s wedding outfits and groomswear, it can be just as much headache as the bridals!

To be fair, my husband didn’t leave his outfit TOO late - he started looking around just under 2 months before the wedding, which I thought was a reasonable time since a lot of shops ask for 6-8 weeks for anything to get made.

What we wanted:
A simple, not too fussy sherwani jacket with straight trousers and a plain shirt. My husband didn’t want any extras (turban, scarf, sword!) because he wanted something comfortable and flattering, and was mainly focused on having something which was made from a good quality fabric. He also knew my bridal outfit would be dressy (and sparkly!) so wanted something to complement this, but wanted something simple to suit his tastes as well. We both wanted a black outfit rather than a cream or white, and looked online for ideas - below are the closest two images we wanted to go with when looking for the wedding outfit.

 Left: Ziggi's Studio, Right:

Our budget: Not very high, again because he wanted something simple he was willing to pay about £300ish for the suit. Personally I don't believe a men's outfit should cost too much if there isn't much work on it and if it is simple - the designs above had some embellishment but we didn't even want too much of this either.

Places we went to: Mainly east London - Ilford Lane, Green Street, some online vendors. We spent about two weeks shopping around and making email and Whatsapp enquries before we settles on something.

Our Shopping Trips and Online Queries:
I wanted to share some of our experiences with some of the well-known shops in the high street - sadly enough, we actually had some bad experiences with a lot of shops. It was a pity to see that some shops and designers we wanted to go with gave us a bad service as well.
This isn't to bash any shops or designers, but share my experiences - and perhaps a warning for anyone shopping for men's outfits!

Ziggi’s Studio
This was our primary choice, as the outfit we wanted was the black sherwani above and which my husband loved. We weren't able to visit the store immediate because it is in Birmingham and we both work full time so it would be difficult to make time to visit, so we decided to contact the designers via Whatsapp. Firstly I spoke to Ziggi himself and said that we couldn't visit the store yet, and showed the design we wanted. He explained that this was an older design, but something could be done if we didn't go with the exact same material. Once we said we were fine with this, we were then passed onto another person (I was told this was Ziggi's brother), who sent some pictures of fabrics. After this, communication dried up and I wasn't able to get much clear information at all, and was mostly told that I would need to visit the store to see outfits and make an order. The outfit itself was quoted about £500 to me, which was higher then our budget, but again, it was not made clear whether we could negotiate to make a cheaper outfit. Ultimately I was very disappointed with the information I was given, and the fact that it did not feel like I could get much information before making an order. After being sent a few pictures I didn't get much reply at all, and was frustrated at the fact that we weren't given the service we could have been.

RDC London
This is a local store, which does some pretty decent men's wedding wear and semi-formal outfits. My husband and I went to the store and spoke to the designer of the store, showing the designs we wanted, and also browsed the store's collection. We were advised to make an appointment to look at the bridals, and then told that we had 'left it too late' -  the store would need at least six months to custom-make something we wanted. When we said that we didn't think it would take too long as we wanted something quite simple, the designs we was pretty simple, the designer first quoted us £650 for it (which was more than the original designer outfit would cost!) and then stated that he didn't think he would be able to make it for us. Because it was the middle of Ramadan, he explained he wanted to focus on the upcoming Eid collections and 'didn't have time' to focus on our wedding outfit. Needless to say, we left the store after this, feeling very annoyed.

Cuckoo Fashion
This was a store in Green Street which had an amazing, colourful colourful collection, with some very elaborate pieces and some really nice pieces. Fairly above our budget but the shop did say that they were willing to work with our budget. Our only problem was that my husband wasn't able to try anything on - everything in the store was either a size Small or XS (he is neither) and there was nothing in his size. When we asked for bigger sherwanis to try on, the shop stated we would have to order something in his size, but we were unwilling to take the risk and buy something without trying it on first.

Geeta Arts
This was the other place which was in our top choices for men's bridals - the designs are chic, very well made and very flattering. My husband has bought semi-formal kameezes for Eid from here before so we knew that we'd be happy with the pieces from here, which also helped. It was slightly pricey, but we were able to design an outfit with the vendors that was exactly what we wanted. The shop told us they would have to order fabric sample for us to pick before we ordered, and gave us a final quote of around £350, which was higher than we wanted but we agreed to pay it. When we came back the following week to place the order, and after we looked at fabrics, we were about to pay the deposit when we were told the actual price was £750 - a different amount to what we were initially told. When we queried this, the shop denied telling us it was £350 and suggested we were perhaps confused or had spoken to the wrong person. My husband got a little annoyed at this and decided not to order in the end, as he thought the design was too pricey for something so simple.

Junaid Jamshed
This is a Pakistani label which did not have a local store at the time (there's a pretty good one in east London now!) so we had to make queries online. My husband hadn't worn this label before but my sisters and I have ordered from here for my dad for family weddings. The men's wedding outfits were simple but very elegant, and not too pricey. In the end we didn't order because my husband wanted something more contemporary, but my sister did order a jacket with a kameez suit for my dad for my wedding, which was a little pricey but came pretty quickly. One of the things we all really liked about this brand is the excellent quality - of design and the fabric - and the fact that it would be hard to find something like this any local shops.

Poshak Mahal
We liked this store because it had very reasonably-priced outfits for men, although the stores we went to did not have men's wedding outfit and was very limited. Having said that, I'm a fan of this brand because of the wearable pieces and decent prices.

Bombay Looks
This was another store which had reasonably priced outfits but a very limited range of men's outfits. The style also felt a little old-fashioned, with mainly kurta-pyjama pieces which wasn't what we wanted.

This was a store in Green Street which had a good range of outfits but again, there wasn't much that we liked. It wasn't that we were picky, but more that the outfits felt too garish and didn't fit with what we wanted.

There were a lot of shops around East London that we visited, which had the same sorts of styles and pieces, although I can't remember them all! I will say that since my shopping trips, the shops have expanded a lot and there seems to be more available for men, so don't be put off!

What we ended up with:
Desi Dulha
We were pretty lucky to find a shop in Green Street, East London that had pretty cheap outfits and were able to do it quickly enough. They had plenty of sizes, colours and designs and were willing to negotiated prices yet still design a custom-made piece for us. We placed an order for a brocade jacket sherwani with velvet and bead-work on the front, collar and sleeves, for just £250ish with matching trousers, and also were given a free inner kameez and shoes to match! The outfit was ordered for us to collect in 4 weeks (which was lucky for us) and we loved what we ended up with. You can see the design below:

I like to think that even though this was only a couple of years ago, the range and availability for menswear has improved and definitely become easier for men. I also think that social media has really helped with visibility – showing new styles, different vendors and shops

I’ve definitely learned from our shopping expeditions and searches for men’s outfit. It was disappointing to see that not all shops gave us the service we wanted, and that some shops were even unwilling to work with us. I can understand if a shop is unable to meet your needs but there were a few vendors who were a little discourteous which I didn’t appreciate, as it's not professional.

One of the alternatives we toyed with was the idea of just getting an English three-piece-suit after we realised how difficult it would be to find a decent sherwani, but we weren’t too keen on this idea as we wanted a very traditional, Pakistani look for both of us. Also we knew the boys in our families were all wearing suits (some with bow ties!) and we wanted the groom to stand out from this. We also found that price-wise, getting a 3 piece suit would probably cost the same so wouldn’t make a difference in that respect.

Ladies and gents, I would advise anyone looking for a men’s wedding outfit to do some research and definitely call around, but don't give up or be put off! Vendors should be able to work around your budget, or at least adjust outfits to suit - and don't let them tell you that you've left it too late! I have had friends who had weddings organised as short-notice as a month or so, and have managed to work with ready-made pieces with alterations.

I'm hoping this post will help a few of my readers for their shopping preps - let me know about your experiences too!

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