A lady armed with an array of shopping bags, stormed out of a tailor shop, fuming and muttering angrily under her breath. What was the matter?
“The tailor has refused to take my orders!” she snapped in reply, “I have been a regular customer here for a few years now and still he won’t take my order. What am I and my daughters supposed to wear for Eid?”
Why would a tailor refuse to take orders from a regular customer, that too lucrative orders by the look of her bursting shopping bags!
Inside Banani Tailors, amid the prattle of customers, the snipping of scissors and the general hustle and bustle, the master tailor Subrata looked hassled and harassed. “How can I take orders, even from my most regular customer? We have taken so many orders that our workers are already working round the clock! It is only the beginning of Ramadan, but we are saturated!”
He explained, “Even if I wanted to consider my customers’ urgency and I took the orders, I wouldn’t be able to deliver them on time. That would be even worse. At least now they can go to another tailor who can deliver on time.”
Aren’t they afraid of losing business? “We have more business than we can handle,” says his colleague, cutting a kameez pattern on the next counter. “We are good at our work. Our customers always come back to us and we always try to accommodate their demands to the best of our ability.”
Given the fact that the shops are stocked with stylish readymade clothes of the latest fashion, why are tailors in such demand? Says a shopper, “We prefer to buy unstitched suits and have them tailored for a perfect fit. Even if we do buy anything readymade, we still have to go to the tailors for alternations.”
Asma Ahmed, a customer handing over her fabrics to her tailor in Annanya Market in Baridhara DOHS, says, “Eid is still a long way off, but I have rushed with my clothes to the tailor now so that he can make it in time. Before it was not such a problem. We would have one outfit or two at the most for Eid. Now each girl has many outfits - saris, long dresses, kameezes….”
Her tailor smiled and nodded, “Yes, Eid was always a busy time for us, but nowadays it is busier than ever. The designs are more complicated too. But we manage.”
“It is business time madam. No time to talk,” with clear annoyance the boy of a local tailoring house in Shantinagar bazaar area said on Saturday.
Still two weeks to go for Eid-ul-Fitr and already the tailoring houses have stopped taking new orders.
Even the smallest one in the locality is bombarded with orders.
Alamgir of Shapla Tailors and Clothing in Shantinagar area of the capital, said most of their customers are low income women of the locality.
“Being a residential area, every family has a house maid. There are many garment workers living in the area as well. Local tailoring shops are cheaper than those in the shopping malls. So they all come here,” he said.
Opposing Alamgir’s words, another boy Arif said, not only maids and RMG workers many ‘hi-fi’ (he meant well off) families come to their shop as their cutting and fitting of dresses are better than many pricy shops.
Lubna Fashion is a tiny tailoring shop in Shantibagh area.
The master tailor of the shop Habibullah, while cutting a shalwar, put his scissor aside and said they had many orders for sari blouses.
“Any tailoring house in Mouchak market or any shopping mall makes a blouse for Tk 800 to 1200. Our maximum price is TK 400. So many customers come here.”
Tailoring shops at Mouchak Market have started working overnight. Tailors and master tailors of Lovely Ladies Tailors, Surjo Konna Tailors, and Sonia Master Tailor, said they had more orders for customised shalwar kameez suits.
“We had loads of orders of shalwar kameez suits with lace-work and appliqué. Young girls prefer A-line pants and pencil pants with beads on the seam, rather than simple palazzo or shalwars,” said the master of Tina Tailors of Mouchak market.
According to the tailors, there is high demand for sherwani-cut kameezes and double layer kameezes with lace-work. There is demand for high-necks too.
A customer Tuli at the Lovely Tailors counter said, “I want a customised shalwar suit that Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor wore on a magazine cover. Where on earth do I find that in readymade collections?”
Tailors said they often had to handle tantrums of their clients. Some want the exact suits of Bollywood actresses showing a snap of that particular design.
“Is it possible for a master to refuse his clients?” said the master of Surjo Konna Tailors.
Since all the local and shopping mall tailoring houses stopped taking orders, sales of unstitched shalwar kameez suits have slowed down a bit.
A salesperson in Vogue by Prince said many of their customers are looking for readymade suits as they fear no tailor will take new orders now.
Juthi with her mother was buying an unstitched shalwar kameez set at the capital’s Eastern Plus shopping complex.
She said, she has bought a readymade dress from Le Reve.
“The best suit collections are generally available for Eid, so ammu and I came to see if there is anything new. Even if the tailors refuse to take orders. We will make them after Eid,” Juthi said.
Dealing with the customers is tough enough, how do the tailors deal with their workers? Mobarak of All Style Tailors in Banani laughs, “Yes, we have to really persuade them to take on the extra load. We pay overtime and provide them with Iftar too. In fact, as Eid nears, we even give them Sehri. The customers may complain that we charge a lot, but we have so much overhead costs too.”
“We give out our last delivery even early on Eid morning,” says Subrata. And then comes the lull. “Yes, we keep closed for a week or even 10 days after Eid.” A well deserved break!