I knew featuring Andamen on Definitely Curry was only a matter of time. This is because the decidedly modern-Indian menswear brand was an early starter in the homegrown space and one of the few which validated my observation that our notion of Made in India is starting to change. That we are designing better, with a much stronger focus on distinctiveness and quality, is something I talked about at length in my story about why indie and homegrown brands are on the rise. It sounds a little embarrassing now, but I was pretty sure at the time (ca. 2017) that Andamen and Nicobar were sister brands.
So I got the Terra Nova shirt from Andamen for a detailed review and to understand the brand better.
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Andamen started out as shirt makers in late 2015 and that remains the category which defines them even today. While the catalogue has grown significantly, there are few things consistent across their shirt collection – excellent fabrics, pleasing colours and a range of designs addressing most wearing situations. Between their checks, stripes, shades and motifs, they’ve got a diverse selection of formal, casual and evening shirts. If you want a shirt that doesn’t cut corners and is finished to a very high standard, right up there with the best of them, Andamen is definitely worth a look. And when they say modern-Indian, they mean it. The designs and detailing are evidently modern, punctuated with deft Indian touches, without falling into the ethnic trap.
In my opinion, the more casual end of the shirt spectrum is Andamen’s strong suit. The brand makes most of the room this category allows for differentiation, experimentation and a wider colour palette. This is also why I chose the earthy, checked Terra Nova as my initiation into the brand. It’s versatile, muted and different. What I enjoyed most about wearing the shirt were its fabric quality, subtle sheen and herringbone weave texture. I’m a fan.
- High quality of fabric is apparent, judging from the lustre, finish and feel in hand
- Choice and execution of colours is top-notch
- Diverse selection of styles – there’s something for every mood
- Considered designs with subtle detailing and embellishments
- Obsessive about customer satisfaction – 60 day return policy with a pre-labelled return envelope accompanying your purchase; prompt and responsive on Whatsapp
- ₹3,899 is the cost of entry for their shirts (While this is higher than what would you see at other menswear brands, there is also a delta in quality)
- If one looks at the catalogue macroscopically, it seems to be geared more towards slim fits and body types
- Beige-brown and grey-blue checks in herringbone weave
- Visible stitching in golden brown thread for mild contrast
- Dark brown buttons with a rustic touch
- Button down collar
- 100% cotton, in a 40s cotton and 40s melange count
- Casual Regular fit
I received the shirt from Andamen in a sturdy, rectangular shirt box. On opening the box, I undid another paper panel, the two ends of which were held together with a sticker that said Made in India and had Andamen’s elephant logo. This unpacking or unboxing process was a good first interface with the brand and told me they take product experience and quality seriously.
On getting to the neatly folded shirt inside, there were two things which immediately caught my eye. One, how well the texture of the fabric complemented the colours, and two, the label. Beneath ‘Andamen’, it says “crafted by fanatic freaks”. Besides the high promise made, it invited me to look even closer at the label and more details started to emerge. From the accented red triangles to the way the swimming elephant logo is detailed through stitches, you can see a lot of thought going into the little things that otherwise go unnoticed.
– The shirt
The shirt itself was as I had expected – soft colours and good finish with a smooth hand-feel. A detail that made more of an impression in the flesh than pictures is the slightly contrasting golden-brown stitching. It’s a very subdued kind of pop, but it really works to liven the shirt up a little bit. What I hadn’t expected was a pre-labelled, pre-paid return envelope, should it come to that (they offer a no-questions-asked 60 day returns for unused products). I’ve not seen this with any other local, indie brand yet and it gives them a lot of extra customer-service points. Many of you would have experienced reverse logistics to be an issue if not buying from a large e-commerce platform, and here’s a cure.
You may find a different shirt from Andamen’s selection to your liking, not necessarily the Terra Nova. But what I observed and discussed will help you appreciate the brand’s approach towards design, quality and construction.
Living with Andamen’s Terra Nova shirt
The Terra Nova, like many of Andamen’s shirts, is offered in two fits – Casual Slim and Casual Regular. I picked the Casual Regular (which wears like a smart or relaxed fit) because I’m not big on slim fits. It’s a very personal choice, but most things ‘skinny’ aren’t really my cup of tea. I chose Medium, after taking a detailed look at their size chart and comparing it with my custom measurements. While it indicates a 16.5 US size (which is generally big for me), I found it fitting more like a 16. In general, too, I feel Andamen pictures their patrons to be favouring more slim-fitted clothes. So I would recommend taking a closer look at their size chart prior to ordering.
One thing I’m more picky about than anything else is the shade / tone of colour used on any product. Getting colours ‘right’ isn’t as easy as it sounds, and I’m happy to say that Andamen passes with flying colours here (excuse my unintentional pun). The way the browns and greys come together on the Terra Nova is great and this is further helped by the herringbone weave, which gives it some depth. Whenever anything is attempted to be made earthy, it needs texture, otherwise it ends up looking flat and boring. This is why the choice of herringbone totally works, and yet again goes to show the little aspects that are considered in each Andamen design.
I generally pair the Terra Nova with light coloured chinos or dark jeans and the colour neutrality lends it a lot of versatility. The length of the shirt is such that wearing it tucked out is no problem, which is the more likely use case. But the shirt works really well for evenings too, when I’ve worn it tucked in with black trousers. It didn’t feel out of place in any scenario.
The fabric used isn’t high count, but the shirt has a very nice sheen (something seen across Andamen’s range), which imparts a premium look and feel. This is also possibly why a shirt with such subdued colours still managed to get noticed and complimented when I wore it around. It continues to look great after a few washes, with the sheen intact.
Andamen says they rarely replenish stock of a particular design – once it’s gone, it’s gone. The Terra Nova is an exception to this and recently came back to the catalogue. I think the combination of colours make it quite appealing and different, resulting in its apparent popularity.
What the shirt says about Andamen as a brand
Apart from my time spent with the Terra Nova, I’ve seen Andamen’s collections at a few pop-up events around town. From these experiences, I can say that the attention to detail, premium fabrics and satisfying colour palette extends to their other offerings as well. I don’t believe Andamen attempts to be a brand that is very polarising, but their products are not short of character by any stretch. This is a hard balance to pull off and I like how Andamen goes about it.
Case in point – Andamen have a collarless shirt called the ‘White Rajan Popover’. It exemplifies the brand in some sense – brilliant white Giza cotton, half placket, fabric buttons. Between the Terra Nova and Rajan Popover, you can see the breadth of styles in Andamen’s collection, which showcase Indian inspiration and modern design in a very high quality package.
The brand also works on new fabric innovations, with the aim to better suit our Indian conditions and provide a more comfortable wearing experience. For example, they recently came up with the ‘Air Weave’, made with Giza cotton, but substantially lighter than most formal shirts. Similarly, they only work with Supima cotton for their tees, woven with breathability and drape in mind. All of this reflects Andamen’s focus on material quality and desire to be cutting-edge.
Then there are smaller things like the watches they pair shirts with in photographs on their website. This may appear insignificant (though it can’t go unnoticed for a watch enthusiast like me), but these are aspects that truly demonstrate a brand’s attention to detail.
– The founders’ back story
Andamen is based in Gurgaon and helmed by founders Satvika and Siddharth Suri, who are also married to each other. The idea for a premium, world-class India menswear brand with an Indian soul was conceptualised while they were working in the USA. Siddharth was with Amazon in Seattle after completing his MBA at Wharton, but the couple left that life behind and moved back to India, to realise their vision.
I’ve followed the brand since early 2017 and can see that the founders have a very clear idea of what Andamen is and isn’t. The idea of modern Indian luxury is close to their heart and it shows. What they have done really admirably is strike the right balance between Indian inspiration, modern design and classic styling in everything they create at Andamen. The Indian influence on their collections is apparent, but not forced or overdone.
Price for the Terra Nova is ₹ 4,390 and can be seen on Andamen’s site here.
Andamen’s shirts start at ₹3,890 and can be purchased online at Andamen.com (the entire shirt collection can be checked out here on their website – their range of colours, designs and interesting styles are truly worth taking a look at). Prices are a little higher than other established menswear brands, but I also find the materials and finish to be more premium in quality.
This year, they have also added tees, polos and chinos to their collection, which extend the outlook on fabric, details and shades that we see on the brand’s shirts.
Andamen ship all their orders in reusable packaging (a canvas tote, dopp kit or sturdy shirt box, depending on the order), which is quite a neat touch.
There are times and occasions when we want our shirt to make an impression of obvious quality with premium touches. This is where Andamen doesn’t let you down. Their winning formula is a mix of fine fabrics, soft colours and not-so-usual styles, that speak a refined design language.
If you haven’t bought anything from them yet, I would recommend starting with something casual. That’s where I really feel Andamen stands out and shines. Good design is about restraint and the brand seems to understand that well. Andamen’s shirts have a relaxed subtlety to them which makes them easy on the eyes and a solid addition to any contemporary wardrobe.
What do you think of Andamen’s range of casual and office shirts for men? Does the brand speak to you? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this story interesting or useful, please spread the indie brand goodness by sharing it!