There is hard science to explain Indian men's soft and big stomachs, and the paunch fit shirt is here to help them hide that belly.

According to scientists, the Myostatin gene predisposes Indian men to abdominal obesity. Around 11 per cent of the Indian population is overweight or obese. According to Abhishek Lulla, co-founder and CEO of the Mumbai-based clothing shop, The Stiff Collar, their paunch-fit shirts are made to address precisely this genetic predisposition.

The paunch-fit shirt is designed with more cloth around the stomach region, and has a longer tail so that it fits neatly over the shoulder and chest, and billows out to accommodate the paunch. The long tail allows wearers to tuck it in without the shirt tightening around the belly.

Here's a picture:

Lulla said that the shirt wasn't exactly a blockbuster with their loyal clientele, but sales were picking up with even medium-sized customers asking for the special cut.

"They say they are skinny but have big paunches, and ask us to design a paunch-fit shirt for them," he said, adding that the firm was now planning to provide the cut for smaller sizes.

The paunch-fit's precursors are found in clothing lines by big brands such as Ralph Lauren, with its Big Oxford line of shirts to cater to middle-aged Caucasian with beer bellies.

The Big Oxford, introduced nearly twenty years ago, has a 20 percent larger torso than normal shirts at the abdominal region, but does not have touches such as the paunch-fit's longer tail.

The Nordstrom, another upscale fashion retailer, offers shirts sized 'Extra Trim Fit' to accommodate bigger stomachs.

But Mahesh Ramakrisnan, owner of the Indian arm of Whitcomb and Shaftesbury, insisted that only a bespoke shirt made by an expert tailor could really flatter anyone's body.

Whitcomb and Shaftesbury is a venerable tailoring brand based in Saville Row, London, which counts the English nobility as part of its clientele. It also counts actor Richard Gere, former tennis player Vijay Amritraj, among others, as its clients.

Ramakrishnan said there were three types of garments -- ready-to-wear, made-to-measure and bespoke clothing. Ready-to-wear shirts are the kind you find in clothing shops.

Made-to-measure are garments that your tailor designs to fit your measurements. But the bespoke garment is a sophisticated thing -- it takes into account the measurements and the postures of the client, so that "a military man and an accountant of the same size won't get the same shirt."

Even a bespoke garment wouldn't necessarily flatter a client's body unless it were made by a highly skilled tailor -- the kind who use tricks with their cutting to draw the eyes away from the less attractive parts of the client's figure.

Ramakrishnan is skeptical about the paunch fit, but The Stiff Collar is optimistic.

"Some customers who don't believe the shirt will work buy larger sizes and then exchange them later for the paunch fit, which works out fine," said Lulla.

For those whose budget excludes them from the tailors who serve blue blood, the paunch-fit might be a good option, indeed.