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When a floor tile becomes a shirt

As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations, Bharat Floorings & Tiles has collaborated with Bombay Shirt Company for a collection of shirts with iconic tile motifs

From the Bharat Floorings & Tiles x Bombay Shirt Company collection
From the Bharat Floorings & Tiles x Bombay Shirt Company collection

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What do Mumbai landmarks such as the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, Eros and Regal Cinemas, Mumbai Central Station and Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue have in common? All the heritage structures are adorned with cement tiles made by Bharat Floorings & Tiles (BFT).

And it’s not just heritage structures, you will see BFT’s designs in popular eateries such as the Social chain and The Bombay Canteen. 

As part of their 100th-anniversary celebrations, over the past few weeks, BFT has been conducting various activities, including talks, workshops and a chic collaboration with Bombay Shirt Company (BSC) featuring a capsule collection of 10 men’s shirts.

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Firdaus Variava, the vice-chairperson of the family-run company, says, “I have always wanted to see BFT patterns and designs translated on to fabrics to create apparel or a range of lifestyle products, as I believed it would look wonderful. Akshay (Narvekar, founder of BSC) and I have been each other's customers for a long time and we have had this idea of working together for a while. There are a lot of synergies in our design sensibilities and the ethos of each of our brands.”

Good design lasts forever, believes Narvekar. Talking about the limited collection, he says that one of the patterns used is from a tile made back in the 1930s, and it still looks relevant. All was not easy though, as there were certain patterns that the team loved but they didn’t work on a shirt. “It was tough to choose from the many iconic patterns. If you’ve been out and about in Mumbai enough times, chances are you’ve seen tiles from BFT at least once. They have a rich heritage, having decorated some of the most iconic buildings in Mumbai in their century-long history. We chose patterns that resonated with us mutually,” says Narvekar.  

The shirts can be picked with a pre-set customisation option, ensuring that specific fits really bring out the beauty of the motifs. “The Bandhgala collar that we have offered as a pre-set customisation on one of our shirts in the collection is a collar that would go well with all the shirts in the collection. We have a couple of short-sleeved shirts in the collection as well, which have a Cuban collar that gives out a fun holiday vibe,” says Narvekar.

While going to a local tailor is a pretty common, even affordable common practice in India, the last few years have seen the emergence of new-age custom tailoring companies with a hip Internet presence. “India has always had a rich tailoring heritage, all we have done is make the process seamless and personalised by combining it with our technology. We believe that clothes should be made for individuals and not for large masses of people together. If more companies are helping people feel better dressed and as a result, more confident, we’re happy about that,” says Narvekar about the resurgence of bespoke tailoring. He has also seen a change in customer choices (motivating them to try such collaborations) as people are broadening their horizons by wearing more colourful printed shirts and silk shirts than before.

To find your right fit, Narvekar says, “An ideally fitted shirt should not droop on your shoulders, the length of your sleeve should never go further than your wrist and it should fit you well around your waist.”

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