Sweets, gold jewellery, crackers are all definitely part of the ‘Festival of Lights.' But it is never complete without new clothes. And for those who do not prefer readymades, it is the tailor, who turns the wheels of the sewing machine all day, completes the festivities. This community has never lost out to readymades or fashion designers. As a result, the tailors barely get rest till the Deepavali eve.
Readymades do not offer any competition to the tailors. “Though the garments are available in plenty, one cannot expect the perfect cut in them,” says Karpagam, a Government official. “Once you approach a tailor with your material, till it is transformed into a finished product, there might be endless visits to the shop. But it is worth it,” she adds.
“If we are given the material and the right measurements well ahead, we will definitely be able to deliver on time and save time and energy of the customer,” says R. Rajan, Rite Fit Tailors, Mylapore. He is sore that this year he got his orders only a fortnight before Deepavali. He opines that people started thinking about the festival only after Ayudha Pooja. So neither could he employ more people nor could he meet the demand of customers with the present strength.
Shanthi, who runs a boutique in Triplicane says, “Unless we appoint extra staff we will be squeezing the existing ones. Already by the time a blouse takes shape too many people — cutting master, girls for hemming and button stitching and ironing — is involved. Unless we plan ahead, it is impossible to execute an effective team work. Also, as there is a demand for designer ones, it takes a long time to finish just a single blouse.” While Shanthi's customers have given her borders and embroidery to go with her lining blouses, Rajan has simply declined to take up designer wear. “I can finish just three or four in a day if I need to work on the blouses, so I have taken up orders only for ordinary blouses or simple lining ones.”
Anu Shankar, a homemaker, has gone in for traditional paavadai blouse wear for her daughter making it simple for her tailor Sudha. “This year I see young mothers preferring traditional wear for their children,” opines Sudha. Working women who have given her churidhar materials have gone in for short sleeves and yolk designs for neck.
If you think readymade clothes are preferred by women alone, think again. Men too prefer it. Shirts and pants are available with innumerable brands, but for some like Uday, they do not fit. Slightly on the heavier side, Mr. Uday, always heads to G.N. Rao at Luz Corner. “We never fail to fulfil our customer's expectations. Pleatless or pleated pants, it always fit perfectly on them. We start a month or two before the festival and wind up two days before Deepavali,” says Mr. Rao. He always takes up limited orders and does not believe in stretching his limits for the sake of money.
Jasmine Tailors at R.A. Puram, sees a 50 per cent surge in business. His men do overtime during festival. Although he stitches formals and casuals, wedding wear is his speciality. He has an embroidery unit to embellish the wedding suits.
So what makes tailors popular in a city swamped with flamboyant readymade shops? It is the attitude of not saying ‘no' to their customers, how much so ever tight the deadlines are. Also as they take into account, the stance, gait and personality of the customer, they work wonders on the clothing and the mind of the customer. So dresses are more than mere clothing. They not only signify style and dignity but also one's personality.