The man behind the legendary Kolkata bespoke tailoring store, JS Mohamedally
Hassan Sheikh Esmailbhai is a third generation owner of JS Mohamedally; his forefathers migrate from Gujarat to start a wholesale retail business during the World War 1 era.
Princes have shopped in JS Mohamedally. And while that seems like an exaggeration, it's simply a matter of misplaced punctuation. "Salim Durrani, the cricketer nicknamed "Prince" used to be a regular here," remembers Hassan Sheikh Esmailbhai, third generation owner of JS Mohamedally, an iconic men's wear store in the corner of Dalhousie Square.
With more than 2,000 regular customers, JS Mohamedally has become iconic for its bespoke tailoring. A suit here, can cost anywhere between Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000. The store was setup in 1909 by Esmailbhai's forefathers who migrated to the city from Gujarat to start a wholesale and retail business during the World War I era in Armenian Street.
They moved into the current premises at Tower House, Chowringhee, in 1938. This location has been witness to nearly every major political rally in the city. "Didi's Martyr's Day's Rally that took place on July 21 last year had to be declared a holiday for us by default," he says.
Though his family had already established business in the city, Esmailbhai moved to Kolkata from Gujarat only in 1974. "I was a 19-year-old when I was asked to learn the ropes of the business through rigorous training. My son has undergone a similar induction. That's the only way you can pay attention to maintaining quality," he says.
Quality and customer satisfaction are Esmailbhai's priority at the store. "We get hundreds of people in a day, more during festivities like Ramzan and Pujas. We can't pay individual attention to celebrities anymore. What we can do is ensure that each and every product we sell is value for money," he says.
He settled in this city and soon made it his home. "I like going for my morning walks along the Maidan after my 3 a.m. prayers. It's very pleasant at dawn," he says. A member of the Cricket Association of Bengal, he's an avid sports fan as well. He still prefers the glory days of the gentleman's game.
"I don't watch the Indian Premier League. I do go for test matches or one day's at Eden Gardens," he says. Like most Kolkatans he is also a fan of the 'Prince of Kolkata', Sourav Ganguly. And perhaps the most telling evidence of his Kolkata spirit can be seen through his stand on the 'East Bengal versus Mohunbagan' debate. "I support East Bengal," smiles the 61-year-old.