Chester Bernard is probably Pakistan's most well known name for men's shirts, and in this exclusive interview with fashioncentral Faraz Salehjee, the CEO of Chester Bernard, talks about designing shirts and setting new trends in men's wear in Pakistan.
1. When did you start Chester Bernard? Why the name Chester Bernard - what does it mean?
Ans: Chester Bernard started in 2005; the rest is a closely guarded secret.
2. What inspired you to start a line of men's clothing?
Ans: It’s something that I know well. It comes to me naturally-
3. Your shirts are brightly colored and beautifully finished: do you feel men in Pakistan are eager to try out new colors and patterns or are they generally hesitant?
Ans: The new Pakistani man is always eager to try out the latest international fashion; he is aware of the latest design philosophies around the world and knows of at least a dozen international men’s brands as to what they have on their shelves every year. Those days are over where Pakistani men were living in the dark ages. One can safely say that Pakistani men are open to the concept of trying out new designs!
4. You also do customized, made-to-order shirts: what do you feel is more important for men when it comes to a good shirt, fit or style?
Ans: You can not have style without a great fit. These two are genetically integrated. A good fit is what makes the design come alive. Once the fit is appropriate, it makes the product stylish.
5. You began Chester Bernard from a small workshop in Karachi but now you are running two flagship outlets in different cities and planning to launch a third one. Did you think Chester Bernard would become so big when you started out?
Ans: Not at all- We did not start with a business model; It was an idea based in passion, where we just wanted to create something extraordinary in design. The market has dictated that we expand.
6. Is it as difficult to please men as it is to please women?
Ans: Much more difficult- men are more precise, much more quality orientated. They usually have a purpose as to what are their requirements for buying the garment; is it for office, is it for parties , is it wrinkle free , how long will it last . Will the girl think im brad pitt if I have this shirt on. The list is endless. Only when there check list is complete will the shirt leave a rack!
7. Chester Bernard has recently expanded to designing ties and cufflinks: what brought about this expansion?
Ans: We introduced ties and cufflinks a while ago. It was just a natural development of the brand. Due to a lack of quality ties and cufflinks in the market, this was a natural choice for us to take. Our ties and cufflinks are rare and sought after by the discerning customers in Pakistan.
8. Tell us about the new outlet you are opening up in Faislabad: what inspired you to choose this city? Do you feel Faisalabad is becoming a new center for fashion?
Ans: Our clients were flying in from Faisalabad to Karachi to get their shirts made, they invited us to come over – and we obliged. We look forward to this market and yes, this is becoming a new center for fashion. For example, Sitara Mall has all the top brands which exist in both Karachi and Lahore. I can see this market growing.
9. What's next on your agenda: do you plan to open up more outlets?
Ans: Yes! Of course!
10. We love your concept shirt shots: whose idea was those?
Ans: It was and idea shared by myself and Taimur Khan. We wanted to focus more on the product than anything else, as this is what we are known for!
1. What colors are in for causal men's shirts for Spring Summer 2012.
Ans: Men are going to be harboring brighter colors than ever before. We are calling it the year of the peacock.
2. How would you advise a man to dress up for his first date?
Ans: Well, that’s a very tricky question! We always believe that men should wear who they are, and what they want to express about themselves. It helps men feel more comfortable and communication improves and females can get a better idea of who the man is. We do however encourage men to wear colors which brings out the hues of their complexion.
3. How would you advise a man to dress up for his Valima if the bride is wearing a pale pink gharara?
Ans: We would recommend him to wear a midnight blue suit, mother of pear finish white shirt, and a tie and pocket square in silk, which either matches the gharara or the color of the work on the borders. The tie is a focal point and shows that thought has been given by the groom towards matching himself with his bride. ( Don’t forget the valima pictures last for ever ; and if you show complacency your wife will make sure you don’t last for long.)
4. What looks best with a black Calvin Klein suit and a crisp white shirt?
Ans: Your good looks and a smile! Always works!
5. What shoes should one wear with a brown suit?
Ans: A mix between a Tan and a Dark brown. ( Please don’t wear banana boat shaped shoes ! )