Menswear in recent times has primarily been dictated by the on-goings of the Italian fashion scene. Yet, when it comes to picking suits and fabrics for suits, the English gentleman has always defined style and elegance.

By Mubashra Siddiqui (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Sun 5 Jun 2005, 11:48 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:20 PM

Giving a new meaning to innovation and excellence to men's formal attire is the premium English brand, Hield, now available in the UAE through Saks Fifth Avenue. Although quintessentially English, interestingly enough, the company is owned and run by an Arab family — the Chamsi-Pashas.

"Hield was initially founded in 1922 by brothers David and Hugh. Around the early seventies, however, it was publicly traded and that's when my family bought the company. We have always had a strong association with the brand and were the dominant traders of Hield fabrics in the Middle East," said Talal Chamsi-Pasha, in-charge of retail and marketing at Hield, who was recently in Dubai for a special Hield premiere at the Saks store.

The Chamsi-Pasha family's history with textile trade goes back to over two hundred years. The name Pasha automatically suggests Ottoman roots, and the Chamsi-Pasha family proudly acknowledge their dynastic background.

"Originally from Istanbul, our family has been in Syria since the early twentieth century. In the 1940's and 50's, however, seeing the changes taking place in the Lebanese market, its opening and expansion, the family decided to move to Lebanon. However, once the Civil War started, we acquired Hield and moved out to the UK, where we have been settled since," explained Chamsi-Pasha.

He added, "Acquiring Hield pushed us into a whole different ball game. Historically, the family had always been involved with wholesale - the buying and selling of fabrics. But, now, with Hield, manufacturing had come to the forefront."

Although true, the Chamsi-Pashas handled the acquisition beautifully. They expanded the Hield line to include fabrics for car and home furnishing and also introduced a ready-to-wear range. Hield has provided fabrics for the seats that grace the Queen of England's Bentley and Sean Penn also wore their clothing in the recently released movie - The Interpreter. In the UAE, their fabrics are also used to make the uniforms for many organizations including that of police in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Hield's ready-to-wear collection which includes suits, sports coats, dress shirts, neckties, knitwear, leather goods, and even foot wear is primarily distinguished by its emphasis on English-made English style.

"What we have always attempted to do is create a homogenous line of products that is synonymous with quality while maintaining the English-ness of the brand. While personally the family may not be originally British, the brand's identity definitely is and that we have always wanted to keep intact," stated Chamsi-Pasha.

The traditional English suit has a slim suit with a dramatically tapered waist and an over-accentuated chest and it is typically made of heavy cloth. Hield has updated the classic silhouette and rendered it in lightweight super wool fabrics with horsehair linings. At the forefront are Hield's two models — a full three-button with side vents and a two-button athletics-fit - that also maintain the traditional contoured silhouette though with a slightly relaxed waist for comfort. Hield has also reined in the typically broad English shoulder and yet it still remains what is referred to as a 'man's shoulder.'

Many of the employees at Hield are also British. "A lot of our employees have worked with us for a long time. Before them, other members of their families have worked with us," said Chamsi-Pasha. Recounting an incident of such unwavering loyalty in Lebanon, he said, "We have been away from Lebanon for a long time, yet I enjoy going back. And whenever I do, I don't roam the city with a driver. I personally like to take the old Lebanese taxis.

"I remember once when I took a taxi and got into a conversation with the driver, he started talking about the past. He recalled how at one point, taxi drivers had become very rich in Lebanon and mentioned how he used to wear quality suits. The brand he claimed to have most loved was Hield and he also told me how sad it was that he was unable to find it any longer. I was simply amazed. Just for that kind of loyalty, I asked him to give me his card and sent him a suit."

An advantage that Hield has when it comes to its ready-to-wear range, according to Chamsi-Pasha, is the company's long history as a cloth supplier to some of the most well known names in men's fashion including Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani Burberry, and Paul Smith among many others.

This interaction with the world's top designers initially gave the company wide access to a variety of creative sources for developing its own look. "Further, we are able to provide our collection at a much cheaper price. Since, we use our own fabric we are able to cut down costs by almost thirty per cent," added Chamsi-Pasha. Suits by Hield start at about Dh6,000.

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