Meet Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, the buzzy bespoke tailoring house making suits that give back

Whitcomb & Shaftesbury

The British firm combines several Savile Row stalwarts with an Indian workshop that helps families in need

If you’re into your clothes, you might well know the name Whitcomb & Shaftesbury. As far as London-based bespoke tailors go, the house has gained an impressive reputation for quality in recent years, with rave reviews from the likes of Permanent Style. What you may not know, though, is that while the name sounds traditional, Whitcomb & Shaftesbury has built its reputation for quality by doing things differently.

The brand is the brainchild of two brothers, Suresh and Mahesh Ramakrishnan, who both enjoyed long and successful corporate careers in New York City before they decided to open a tailor shop. “For years, we had our suits made,” explains Suresh, “and we both felt that you could find good product, but it was a struggle to find good advice. We felt that lack of advice offered us a huge gap in the market.”

So, the duo determined that they’d fulfill the role of giving clients good, honest guidance, before recruiting a team of Savile Row trained cutters and tailors, including John McCabe and Bob Bigg, highly experienced stalwarts of the Row with close to 120 years combined experience. Whitcomb also recruited a third, younger cutter, Sian Walton, formerly of Thom Sweeney, Alexander McQueen and Kilgour. Between them, this trio can bring to bear a huge range of different skills. McCabe and Bigg are masters of old English styling, whereas Walton cuts a comfortable, contemporary jacket with “drape with shape,” loosely inspired by her training (under McCabe) at Kilgour.

Whitcomb & Shaftesbury
From left, Suresh Ramakrishnan, John McCabe, Bob Bigg and Mahesh Ramakrishnan

Whitcomb & Shaftesbury is based on George Street in Mayfair, just a few paces from Savile Row, and offers two bespoke services: its Savile Row Bespoke service, which is made in the conventional fashion in on-site workrooms, and Classic Bespoke, which is cut in London and made in the brand’s workshop in Chennai, India. Before you raise an eyebrow, keep in mind that some of the best bespoke garments in the world come out of India, and having ordered a Classic Bespoke overcoat, suit and smoking jacket myself, I’m very happy to vouch for its impressive quality. About a year into running the business, purely as a “made in London” bespoke tailor, the Ramakrishnans decided to support a charity programme called Children of the World in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, which devastated large parts of India. “The programme helped to rehabilitate families who’d had been affected by the tsunami, giving them new ways to earn a living,” Suresh explains. “Programmes were set up in a number of different vocations, from metalwork to embroidery. We decided to offer a hand-tailoring scheme, so John [McCabe] flew out to India and began to train local craftspeople to a Savile Row standard.”

Whitcomb & Shaftesbury
The author in his corduroy suit and Donegal overcoat commissioned from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury