Trendy, low-cost readymade apparel pose a big challenge

Readymade apparel outlets have proved to be a bane for tailors in Tiruchi.

Tailors, both in the urban and rural areas and who used work round-the-clock for several days before Deepavali, have to be now content with limited orders. Low-cost, trendy readymade outfits available across the counter are weaning away their regular customers.

Today’s fast-paced life does not allow people the luxury of visiting a tailor and get a dress stitched.

“Power cuts, rising cost, and competition from readymade outlets have sounded a death-knell to several gents’ tailors,” says L. Razak who owns Super Tailors on Salai Road.

A. Shajudeen of Casino Tailors says fewer people turn up at his shop these days. “A few regular customers do come, but not as many as in the past,” he says.

“Business has drastically reduced. More and more men are opting for readymade garments rather than getting them stitched. Some give the material to us and place orders but after we finish stitching, they don’t bother to collect them and they lay in our shop. It is waste of time and resources for us,” says Mr. Razak with a tinge of sadness.

Cost is a major factor for this changing trend, say tailors. “For men, material for a pair of trousers costs Rs. 350 and stitching charge is Rs. 350. A pair of readymade trousers can be purchased for Rs. 350 itself. So why will they buy material and then get it stitched?” asks N. Babu of Ariyamangalam, who has been a tailor for 30 years.

He says business this festive season, which usually reaches it peak, has been dull. “During normal days, we lead a hand-to-mouth existence with very little business,” he adds.

While men’s tailors are bearing the brunt of the ‘readymade’ trend, ladies’ tailors, on the contrary, are thriving.

“When a woman buys dress, one out of three purchases will definitely be a dress material because she can design it as per her wish. This freedom makes women still opt for dress material,” says M. Sathya Rani of Ramya Ladies Tailors at Woraiyur.

“While readymade apparel outlets pose a challenge for us, we manage by making some adjustments. We are cordial with our customers and quickly rectify mistakes to retain them. We do alterations for readymade clothes when the fit is not right. Similarly, we also take up handmade embroidery like aari work,” she says.

But how do men’s tailors survive?

Mr. Babu says many tailors have joined big outlets where they have better working hours as well as pay. “Owners who used to sit and manage the tailoring shops are now stitching it themselves to save on labour cost,” he says.

Mr. Razak has chosen to diversify. “We recently began accepting stitching work for women as well. This helps us cope and increases the number of customers as well,” he smiles.