Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 48, Tuesday, May 11, 2004




The short story 'The Emperors New Clothes' illustrates a part of the tailor that has been there for hundreds of years. In the story, the clever tailor fools the Emperor into wearing nothing in front of a laughing crowd for a bag of gold, and it is said in some folklore that most tailors are very clever people who keep a good idea of occurrences around the area. The same can be seen in Dhaka, where some of the tailors get to know more about the happenings mainly through their customers. It is said that like barbers, tailors know the 'talk of the town'.

men's tailoring

There have been great innovations in the last hundred years in fashion and the art of tailoring itself. Sewing machines now do the work better than what could be done by hand; new fabric

Technology has produced more comfortable cloths; fashions have adapted to more leisurely, climate-controlled lifestyles. Bell-bottoms for men are out, replaced with slacks and khakis. However, tailoring is still, and likely to remain so, an art. The tailor still believes in making personalised clothing, statements of fashion for the individual, as he always has done.

Men's tailoring in Dhaka is an industry that has been ever present for decades; there are numerous tailoring shops around the city, starting from neighbourhood tailors with great traditions to larger commercialised ventures such as Ferdous and Fit-Elegance. Although the trend of ready-made, cheaply produced clothes have depreciated the true value of tailoring, there are still individuals around the city enjoying the 'measured to fit' feeling.

"Once I started making my clothes through the tailor, I surprisingly forgot the whole idea of readymade clothes," says Siraji Hossain, a young office going individual. He also adds "Tailoring gives me that distinct individual look, something that is always appreciated by people in and around the workplace." It is this attitude that most of the working men look for in this competitive era. The whole 'executive look' is something that has a good grasp over modern day fashion trends, and that's where tailoring comes in. 'Measured to fit' is the phrase used by most tailors to explain their jobs; they produce personalised clothing, something that adds to the sense of individualism.

Another aspect that attracts customers to tailors is the scarcity of sizes available in readymade products. At the end of the day, most readymade-customers need to come back to the tailor to re-size their product. This is something that is carried out by scores of men, customising their newly bought products. "I wear waist size thirty-three pants, and this is something that is rare in the market, so I have no option but to go to the tailor, although it may be a bit hard on the wallet sometimes," says another individual. "But I always enjoy wearing clothes that are distinctively made just to suit me," he adds.

Although there is good competition in the tailoring trade, it is sad to see that most of the outlets use catalogues from abroad and don't really design clothes themselves. "Catalogues coming from European countries and India dominate the local market," says Rana, a tailor plying his trade in the city. However, this is mainly because the demand for such products are spiralling. Customers now come to the tailoring stores, search through the catalogues, choosing fashion trends and demanding carbon copies of the products, something that the tailor has to cope up with. Even some of the designs of our traditional Panjabi's are based on Indian designs, and only organisations such as Aarong and Nipun are designing new products.

Fit Elegance located in the Rangs Anam plaza in Dhanmondi and in the Tejgaon-Gulshan link road, is one tailoring outlet that really sets the standards. Although they are new to the business compared to other leading tailoring shops, they really do set high standards. The concept of the store comes with the hope to capture an international market by excelling in Bangladesh first. They also have ready-made garments in addition to their tailoring facilities. At Fit Elegance one can choose material from the shop itself, or just let them tailor material bought beforehand. Customer service is at the top of their agendas, so one can expect a nice friendly time at the tailors. However, the prices are a bit tough on the wallet with just tailoring prices for trousers at Tk.300, suits at Tk.3000 and safari at Tk.1500. They have seasonal additions to their designs and customers have a variety to choose from. In the future, they plan to improve their machinery for better stitching and also plan to make Fit Elegance an international brand, something that may take some time.

Ferdous, with one of its branches in Panthapath, is one of the more old and well-renowned tailoring shops in the city. Ferdous, established in 1980, has been a favourite for customers for quite some time. The rates here are cheaper than at Fit Elegance and the quality is also good. The best part is that they offer urgent delivery in twenty-four hours for customers at no extra price. Prices for only tailoring, of trousers are at Tk.250, suits at Tk.2550 and shirt at Tk.120. They also make sherwanis. Prices of materials varies depending on quality.

"If you know anyone who's getting married, send him to Bashiruddin Tailors for the best of the best," says people around the New Market area. This small shop, run for three generations is one place, which is renowned for its sherwanis. People from different walks of life, starting from Ministers to office goers all come here for their panjabi's and 'Mujib Coats'. Entering the shop shows how busy they are, with overflowing orders at certain seasons. However, they have consistently maintained quality for years, this is one aspect that brings the customers back. The tailors enjoy their work here, spiced up by conversations with distinguished figures as said by a tailor working in Bashiruddin for almost thirty years. Prices are reasonable and quality is great, but there isn't much variety of designs; the products are mostly based on traditional designs with Indian influences.

Craftsmen such as tailors have indeed managed to survive in this age of the mass-produced and quickly thrown away, even to prosper. They have sustained the garment revolution and are still in mass demand. In this age of the shoddy and the quick, the vulgar and the mass consumed, tailors can still be counted onto uniqueness and quality. It is the hallmark of their tradition and everything that they have stood for.

By Mishel Ali Khan

Bare necessities of men's life

Smart dressers don't blindly follow trends. Instead, they tend to purchase the aspect of the particular trend that appeals to them and then incorporate it into their existing wardrobe. They'll usually purchase several trendy pieces every season and then match them with more classic threads. If you don't already do this, then this season is the perfect time to start.

So get moving here are some trendy fashion essentials you should look out for this summer.

Damaged goods
From Diesel, the low-cut, medium rise jeans offer a boot cut and feature a double-belt loop, straight fly stitching, Diesel design converging pocket concept, and a knife-pleat front finish. The style is called "Zathan" and the colour is "Used."

Get them while you are on a trip outside the country, but while you are here, denims at Fit Elegance is worth a try and you always have good old Bongo Bazaar. In fact you'll be pleased to see that most of those brand shops like Diesel and such actually also stock their shelves with goodies from our dear little, crowded Bongo Bazaar. Now isn't that nice?

Trucker's paradise
Like 'em or not, trucker hats will be around for yet another season.

Colourful polo
A short-sleeve polo neck T-shirt is a must-have in any man's spring-summer wardrobe. However, this season, you might want to take it up a notch with colours, so look for pink, orange, mauve, green, and even fluorescent lime. This season is all about bold, flashy colours, like orange, fuchsia, and mauve polo T-shirts. Just make sure they are 100percent pima cotton and feature a two-button placket and clean edges at the sleeves, neck and hem.

You've got the casual, but now check out the dressy must-have for spring 2004.

Bold striped dress shirt
Flashy colours are also all the rage in the more formal landscape. A bright, multi-hued striped shirt, 100percent cotton, with a spread collar, cross-stitched mother of pearl buttons, adjustable-button cuffs, is very in.

Get one by sweating it out a bit in all the men's clothes stores, you are bound to get one of your choice otherwise go to the stores in Bango Bandhu Avenue, get your piece from a yard and tailor make it.

Bold striped suit
Bold multi-etched striped suit offers a fresh new spin on your business wardrobe. But keep in mind that it's not versatile, so make sure you have all your basic suits before you choose to buy one just like it. This season, look for two-button suits with peak lapels and flat-front trousers, in light shades of grey, brown and blue.

Get yours tailor made at Fit Elegance, Ferdous, but its only our recommendation, the best option would be your personal tailor

Can you pull it off?
Loafers offer a classy look with a risqué twist. However, as said it depends on whether you can make it look good on you. Beige and black both the colours are hot this season.

Get a pair at Westecs, Gulshan, they have a smart collection.

That's it for now, but don't get too comfortable because your summer wardrobe will need some revamping soon enough.

Until next time, keep on styling'.

-LS Desk

Tales of tailors

JAMIL Uddin has been working as a men's tailor for around three decades now. Working both home and abroad, he finally has the funds necessary to open up his own small tailoring outlet. After a period of extended hardships, this master tailor can finally 'cut cloth from his own stock' and really push forward financially.

Like Jamil, there are quite a few tailors in the city who have been looking for a respite from the local market, with a view to financial backing in the form of overseas employment. "Finding a job in the Middle East region or any other foreign country seems to pay well and also adds to the status of the tailor himself,' says Md. Anwar Hossain, another tailor working the city's Elephant Road area. Anwar himself is one of the scores of individuals who are looking for a way out of the country. Leaving their families behind is one the luxuries that have to be sacrificed in order to find a stand in the competitive tailoring market.

With the booming readymade garments industry, the tailoring trade has faced many obstacles in its own road forward during the last few decades. Earning a name for oneself is something that has become increasingly difficult in this market, complains some of the tailors. "Tailoring has become a competitive trade," adds Jamil Uddin, and also says that there are many options for customers to choose from, starting from neighbourhood tailors to accomplished ones.

However, there are exceptions in the tailoring industry. Master Sentu, working at the renowned Bashiruddin Tailors at New Market for more than thirty-five years, claims to have no desire to carry his skills abroad despite the lucrative finances involved. Sentu had learnt his skills from Abdus Salam, the proprietor of Bashiruddin tailors, and ever since has been practising it. Starting as a helper and a pupil of the trade, he quietly smiles when asked whether he wanted this career line or not when he started off at the age of 25. "I never even thought about becoming a tailor, but I gradually started liking it," he says. Sentu moved from Bikrampur at first, when his brother brought him to Bashiruddin. Till date he has worked at the small shop located in a corner of New Market. Now a master tailor, he adds "I've never regretted taking up this profession. I just opted for it at first as I was unemployed, but there's more to it than cutting and sewing cloth all day. This is something that I've learnt gradually over the years."

The short story 'The Emperors New Clothes' illustrates a part of the tailor that has been there for hundreds of years. In the story, the clever tailor fools the Emperor into wearing nothing in front of a laughing crowd for a bag of gold, and it is said in some folklore that most tailors are very clever people who keep a good idea of occurrences around the area. The same can be seen in Dhaka, where some of the tailors get to know more about the happenings mainly through their customers. It is said that like barbers, tailors know the 'talk of the town'.

Although there may be financial constraints for some of the tailors in the city, it is definitely nice to see the passion they all share for their profession. Almost all the tailors interviewed came up with broad smiles when asked whether or not they enjoyed their profession. This definitely expresses the amount of passion they have for what they do. "It's always nice to see a smile on the face of our customers at the end of the day," adds Sentu.

By Mishel Ali Khan



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