As readymades rule, emporiums hang by a thread

Fading colours:Some of the emporiums sell up to 300 different shades of threads —Photo: Deepa H. Ramakrishnan

Fading colours:Some of the emporiums sell up to 300 different shades of threads —Photo: Deepa H. Ramakrishnan  

There used to be a time when tailoring and embroidery were taught in school. Children used to know to make different stitches and if a shirt button came off, they would put it back in a minute. Over four decades ago, the famed thread emporiums opened up to cater to the demands of tailors and those learning their cross stitches and knots.

D. Pandian of Vani Thread Emporium on L. B. Road Adyar started his business in 1979, selling threads for trousers and blouses, buttons, needles and embroidery frames.

“I used to work with a cloth merchant in Mandaveli and they used to sell these items as a side business. On realising the demand for such items, I started my shop in Adyar. And though it was difficult in the beginning and I faced a loss in the middle somewhere, over time, I had my own customers in tailors, most of whom I still retain” he explains.

However, the demand for tailoring needs did not last for long as people turned towards readymade garments. “My shop is a one-man show and so I open at 1.30 p.m. and work till 11 p.m. My daughters are into other professions and this shop will remain only till I can work,” explains Mr. Pandian, who also does a bit of tailoring to survive. “I employ a few tailors. They are entirely dependent on me,” he adds.

While many shops have closed down, the few remaining thread emporiums now survive thanks to diversifying into other fields.

For instance Adyar Thread Emporium that was opened by S.M. Abdul Wahab and is now run by his son A.S. Hameed in Gokul Arcade also sells art and craft-related items for children and women.

“Though we cater to tailors, we have been selling these items for 20 years now. When the requirement for tailors came down, we diversified into such products If we are to pay our taxes and rent, we have to change according to the trend,” explains Mr. Hameed.

Fancy items are helping thread emporiums that sell over 100 products related to tailoring. From just 30 colours in the beginning, these shops sell over 300 different shades of thread now.

Once hubs of thriving business, these shops that sell various kinds of thread have been forced to adapt

Recommended for you