Outward appearance often holds inward significance. Narinder Singh Sabharwal’s story is no different, as his impressive style holds the utmost meaning to him personally - and even globally! Diving into Sabharwal’s background, he immigrated from Delhi to Canada in 1995. He had left amidst the completion of his studies at Delhi University, where he was pursuing a Bachelor’s of Commerce. When he reached Canada, Sabharwal switched gears and obtained a diploma in the electronics field.
He initially started out trying his hand at a couple of jobs, but faced rampant racism, often tied with promotion-related issues; Sabharwal was a turbaned Sikh. After having to deal with such problems twice in a short period of time, Sabharwal decided that he won’t be applying for another job. Rather, his interest shifted to growing his family business, which was spearheaded by his father at the time. In 2000, he started his own company and eventually bought his father’s company as well. After buying out his father’s business partner, the two companies merged into one and A Class Fabrication was born. An organization that started in Sabharwal’s garage, today operates under the banner of A Class Fabrication Co Ltd. and has upsized warehouses several times given its notable growth.
That isn’t to say that success came without hurdles and personal challenges. Shook by the racist outlook of those in the workforce, Sabharwal initially did change his appearance. Carrying a haircut and clean-shaven look, Sabharwal attempted to fit in, but remembers feeling ashamed every time he looked in the mirror, “Nobody was expecting this from me. My family, relatives, and friends were all shocked. I also presented religious programming on the radio, which is another reason why people around me were surprised by my actions. After a few years, I myself realized that I had taken the wrong step and returned back to my roots, keeping my true beliefs and value system intact.” Having worked in the South Asian media industry as a radio jockey and television show host, Sabharwal credits his turban and Sikh appearance as the propellent behind him getting such opportunities.
As Sabharwal got back into living the life most authentic to him, he began exploring the fashion realm, expanding what style means as a turbaned Sikh. Coming from the very happening city of Delhi, Sabharwal grew up around a lot of cultural influences. After all, Delhi is a prominent clothing hub and a leading textiles market in Asia. That said, Sabharwal’s most significant inspiration, by far, has been his father. Although he worked, his father was always suited and booted when he’d go out - that too, never without a tie. Slowly, Sabharwal began integrating a similar style into his own clothing choices. He’d sketch and draw designs, completely out of interest. Now, everything Sabharwal wears (aside from casual outfits) comes from Delhi. Sabharwal designs his outfits, and his trailer customizes every piece to his liking. Sabharwal shares, “I’m often asked if I’m scared to wear the clothes I design, but I always say that I want to experiment because I know that it will be appreciated. When people see my clothing, they want to know where I got my outfits from. Some even ask for my tailor’s number!”
In addition to his business acumen and dressing sense, Sabharwal gained another important style statement from his father: a well-groomed, fashionable, and sturdily-curled mustache. A descendant of the Majha region of Punjab, where men are often known for their majestic mustaches, Sabharwal claims that he just had to emphasize the mustache in his appearance. This very mustache has opened new doors for the gentleman.
One day, while working in downtown Vancouver with his brother, Sabharwal spotted a caucasian man who had a mustache that resembled his own. Sabharwal proceeded to compliment him, which sparked a conversation. Upon further discussion, Sabharwal realized that the man was an actor, who ended up inviting Sabharwal to join the Vancouver Facial Hair Club and take part in an upcoming facial hair competition. Sabharwal relayed the encounter to his supportive and appreciative wife, who was eager for the competition and encouraged Sabharwal to take his shot. The competition took place in Vancouver’s downtown in a club; this would be Sabharwal’s first-time stepping foot in such an environment.
Sabharwal recalls, “I saw people and thought to myself that they seem pretty hardcore. I was a bit nervous. But as soon as I walked in, someone came up to me and said that he is going to lose this year, after looking at my mustache. Within 10 minutes of my wife and I finding a table, all these people started coming up to us. They were super excited that another community was joining the competition! That definitely gave me the boost I needed and taught me to never judge a book by its cover.”
Once the competition started, Sabharwal excelled. At the end, there was to be a tie breaker between Sabharwal and another contestant, who was a makeup artist for The Walking Dead. As they walked the ramp together, the loudness and cheering undoubtedly fell to the favor of Sabharwal. That year, he placed first. The next year, he won first place again. Since then, Sabharwal has won many competitions: First Place in the 2018 Facial Hair Competition, Vancouver (Canada); Second Place in the 2019 Facial Hair Competition, Vancouver (Canada); Third Place in the 2019 Rose City Beard & Mustache Competition, Portland (USA); Third Place in the 2019 Beard and Mustache Competition, Spokane (USA); Third Place in the 2019 National Beard and Mustache Championships, Chicago (USA). He is currently looking forward to competing in the 2023 World Beard and Mustache Championship, which is to be held in New Zealand.
To keep his facial hair on point, Sabharwal washes his mustache and beard every morning and every night to ensure cleanliness. He details, “In the mornings, with the help of my hair spray and hair dryer, I style my mustache, which can take about 2 to 3 minutes. If I’m styling my beard as well, then it can take about 10 to 15 minutes. Every night before going to bed, I wash my mustache and beard to remove the hair spray, and massage it with oil. Washing your beard at night is essential, otherwise hair strands will begin to break and fall out. Putting oil on keeps in the moisture, which protects your beard and keeps it soft.”
Aside from his mustache pursuits, Sabharwal is a motorbiker, having been part of the Sikh Motorcycle Club and currently freelancing. He also shows deep interest in photography, both as photographer and as subject, modeling from time to time as a hobby. Owning a horse of his own, the multifaceted man also enjoys horse riding with his 19-year-old son, who himself has competed in and won many competitions in the sport. Sabharwal is, in addition, a lover of antique weaponry, which he collects and creates; he owns 15 different swords and shields, some of which are up to 400 years old.
Creating a healthy balance between a prosperous business and a flourishing personal life, Sabharwal shares that he makes it a point to not run after money. For him, it is all about contentment and satisfaction. Evidently, Sabharwal is creating new benchmarks of accomplishments and achievements outside of traditional paths, alongside spreading community pride across the seven seas. A Singh with style, Sabharwal’s personality, much like his mustache, is unique and stands strong!
Photos courtesy of Narinder Singh Sabharwal