Old leather shops on Vepery High Road prove they are made to last. YUIMI VASHUM reports

“My shop is like a studio for me, this is where new designs are born, and old ones are preserved,” says Abdullah (name changed), manager of a 25-year-old leather shop in Periamet.

A stretch, lined with leather shops, on Vepery High Road in Periamet is very easy to miss unless you are given to exploration. Being the oldest and the only area in Chennai that deals with tanned and semi-tanned leather on a large scale, you expect the place to be reeking of a thick smell of leather. But it is free of any strong smell.

With the city being invaded by big branded fancy apparel companies, this age-old leather lane is expected to go out of existence.

But Afroze Ahamed says, “This place will never run out of business, for we are the originals when it comes to leather”.

A sales man from Lee Grien Store says, “We get around two hundred customers daily and our business is finally booming”.

The shopkeepers know each other by their first names and chat over a cup of chai like old friends.

But when a customer shows up, they shrug off their friendliness and get competitive, rushing to meet him.

“Our biggest competitors are the other leather shops here; we couldn’t care less about the rest.

People who know good leather know it is only to be found here,” says S. Amjad of the Belt World store.

At a time when old businesses cannot be expected to withstand the currents of change, it is amazing that the leather show rooms on the Vepery High Road have survived to this day.

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