PORT RICHMOND — In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a new custom-made suit may seem like a poor substitute for the bare necessities.
But a Manhattan tailor believes that looking good can help in a crisis.
Mohan’s Custom Tailors in Midtown brought 50 custom-made suits to the Salvation Army on Forest Avenue in Staten Island, fitting residents affected by the devastating storm with the new threads free of charge.
“When you wear something that good, you feel good automatically,” said Roma Ramchandani, the store owner's daughter. “These people need a boost and it’s the least we can do.”
The suits, custom designed and fit to order, usually sell for between $500 and $1,500.
The duds Mohan's donated Thursday were among those that were unclaimed by former customers, either because they couldn't pay the bill or weren't satisfied with the product.
Mohan Ramchandani, the company's president, said he got the idea to donate the suits as he watched reports about the devastation on Staten Island, and heard interviews with people describing how they'd lost everything, including their clothes.
“Water was up to the ceiling,” said a 50-year-old Dongan Hills resident who gave his name only as Richard. “I lost everything. You name it, it was lost.”
He's been living at the Bayley Seton Hospital shelter since Sandy hit, and was missing his collection of 12 suits. He said he was happy to finally be able to get out of jeans and back into a suit.
“When I’m dressed I feel a lot better,” he said. “So this is a start at trying to feel better after my loss.”
Roma Ramchandani said they know custom-made suits may not be the first thing on people’s minds as they struggle to recover from Sandy. But for some people, she said, dressing better for the holidays or having a suit for a job interview might make a big difference.
“It might not be the first thought,” she said. “But there are many people who have lost their clothes and really expensive suits. These don’t come cheap, so this is the least we can do to help out and do our part.”
Mohan Ramchandani said his clientele generally includes executives, lawyers and public figures. But Ramchandani, who came to America from India in 1972, said it was a good feeling to give suits to people who truly need them.
“It makes me happy that I am doing something for them,” he said. “When I came to this country I didn’t have anything. So it’s my time to give.”
He said he expects to continue to donate his stock of unclaimed suits.
“We’re going to keep on doing this program until my suits are [gone],” he said. “I feel certainly very happy that I can do something for the people.”