Listing a quick ‘Diwali: Then and Now’ in the middle of our second special issue for the festival, we couldn’t help but notice the substantially longer ‘Then’ side. Once upon a time, there were multiple firecracker stalls (which we sorely miss in the capital), never-ending sweet making sessions at home, not to mention tailor fittings, which had to begin at least two months in advance if one hoped to have new clothes ready by Diwali. So, this year we decided to track down a few tailor-masters and check out their Diwali fervour.
Born to be Bloused
If there is one place in the capital that every bride-to-be, her friend and her mom want to get their sari blouses stitched from, it is Eves’ in Greater Kailash Market Part Two. Housed in a lane between a crop of me-toos and namesakes, this old establishment has a workshop and showroom. While haggling for early deadlines is common for all tailor-made clothes, if you try and place your order too close to Diwali, Eves’ will simply say no. "We sometimes get around a 100 orders a day but we rarely take beyond 30-40, especially during the festive season," the head tailor, Javed informs us. Also, do remember, though the average deadline for a sari-blouse is 10 days, it can easily stretch to weeks if you are not careful about placing your order on time. So give your Diwali clothes early!
Sewing every possible blouse style from a back-bow to rainbow, beaded to heart shaped, backless, net, plain and corseted, the shop claims to give you any design you wish. "We don’t follow trends, we believe in creating our own. When it comes to blouses, what we create tdoay enters the main market only two-three years later," says Vineet Gogia, the head designer, who claims to have no formal training but only a keen interest and passion for designing the best, most different blouses.
"The average cost of a blouse is between `600-2,000 depending on the intricacy of the work required. But the costliest blouse I have ever created was for my wife. It had real zircon crystals and would have sold for `20,000 in the market," he says.
Suit Up, only when stylish
Even as sari blouses top the list of stitched clothing in an Indian wardrobe, salwar suits are not far behind. Many women still prefer a tailor-made suit over a designer creation. There are so many styles flooding the market, especially as the wedding and festive season begins, you could get very confused. But you can be sure that the best pulse readers of new trends are tailors.
Shaivi Apparels, located not far from Eves, claim to be experts at designer suits, dresses and gowns. "An anarkali suit would cost you anywhere between `1,500-2,000. It’s the same for a churidaar in the latest style. But if you go for a suit with wide palazzo pants and add embroidery, then the costs rise," says Jattin Sethi, the owner, from behind a pile of the latest national and international fashion magazines. He claims they can copy any design you give them. "This is a blouse we are constructing for a doctor client. Look at these buttons she sent us," he says, showing us shiny brown crystals which match those on Shilpa Shetty’s photo on his computer screen.
Business this season, he says, is quite good. "We get about 15-20 customers each day and take about a week to deliver. We even send deliveries as far as the US and UK for some of our regular clients." Between the voluminous folds of salwar kameezes, there are also shiny gowns with bustiers, sequinned shorts and a very Chanel-esque jacket. Two ladies who have come to place their measurements try to look nonchalant as we approach them. "We generally go to boutiques or designers only but since we were around we thought let’s try this," says one.
All Figured Out
But not everyone is reaping the benefits of flexible festive season wallets. Pavitra Agency, an exclusive Raymond’s Shop located in what used to be the hub of bespoke tailoring in Delhi, Shankar Market, is empty. "It’s the political trouble mixed with our bad economy. People are not spending too much money. It could be the young generation too, which doesn’t want to invest their time in getting clothes made personally. Even though custom tailoring has made a comeback over readymade clothing in the past few years, this year looks grim," says the head salesman Vinod Sharma.
Stocking men’s wear fabrics for shirts, trousers and coats, the shop is a dull grey and muted dark blue against the harsh tubelight. While the average cost of getting a shirt stitched is `750-800, trousers go up to `1,500-2,000 and tuxedos range from `15,000-20,000. Vinod believes that off-the-rack clothes only suit those with perfect bodies. "Readymade clothes don’t accommodate a bulging stomach or an extra large waist. Most people who are unable to find their sizes have to turn to tailors for clothes that fit well," he says.
God Lies In The Details
However, size isn’t the only criteria for the rise in the popularity of custom made tailoring, style is a factor too. As Aarif Khan of Mehfooz Tailors from Shankar Market says, "People who need clothes to simply cover themselves opt for readymade stuff but those who have a sense of style, cut and fit, always choose fine tailoring." And Avinash Punjabi of Golden Boutique in Colaba, Mumbai, agrees. "A lot of people now understand the importance of good tailoring and personal details. Be it the red thread stitching on the lining of a suit or the deliberately short left sleeve to expose the expensive watch, nobody wants to settle for anything less than unique."
"I am not comfortable buying readymade clothes"
Shruti Sharma, 32, television journalist
Waiting for something to reach the market is hardly her style. Once Shruti comes across something she likes, she wants to get it stitched immediately. A big fan of good cuts, she doesn’t find the idea of readymade garments very attractive. "I have been getting clothes stitched for quite a few years and I go to tailors who know my exact measurements. So it only takes a short visit of a few minutes duration and I get a perfectly fitted piece in return," she says.
Shruti has a network of tailors who stitch her clothes. Even if one of them is unable to give her an outfit on time, she knows she has someone else to turn to. "I have known all of them for a long time and if there is something I need urgently, I usually get it on time. And at a much cheaper price than any readymade garment of the same quality," says she.
Pink salwaar kameez
Shruti bought the silk fabric at Rs 450 per metre and paid Rs 700 for tailoring.
Purchased the chiffon, mukaish embroidered dupatta separately for Rs 1000
Saved over Rs 1500 by getting the finished
Product for Rs 2600 (similar readymade salwar kameezes would probably cost Rs 4500)
“It’s because of the joy of choosing the fabric and getting a custom-fit that I get my clothes tailored”
Pawan Hora, 29, PR Consultant
This small town boy mostly lived the ‘stitched clothes way of life’ till he joined Delhi University and discovered the big, retail web. “Even though I started wearing more readymade brands in college, I couldn’t give up on handmade tailoring. So, I got my first kurta stitched while in JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru Univsersity) and never stopped thereafter,” he says.
“My friends often ask about my tailor trips and wonder how I find the patience and time. You can walk to the mall anytime and pick a readymade item of clothing. But it’s the joy of choosing your own fabric and style and having it fit just the way you want that makes it all worthwhile,” he adds.
Pawan got them stitched by a tailor in Delhi’s GK market
Bought the fabric for Rs 500 per metre
Got them designed similar to the front pocketed, scout shirts he wore as a kid
Paid Rs 1500 for each and saved around
Rs 1000 when compared to the market price
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and switch from readymades to a darzi’s creation, here a few tips to keep in mind
On your first visit, demand to see his/her previous constructions. Examine the quality of the stitching, the cuts and the fit.
If you have something in mind, show a close copy of the design in a magazine or a newspaper to the tailor. See whether he can replicate it and get valuable advice on what fabric would best suit the design.
It wouldn’t hurt to leave one of your best fitting pieces with the tailor for an exact fit.
If you are getting some heavy duty stitching done, like a suit, then ensure you visit the tailor for multiple fittings to have it fall exactly as you want.
Get involved in the process and pay attention to small details instead of leaving it all to the tailor. Pick your own buttons, accessories, brooches, lace and gota as these will determine the ‘chicness’ of your outfit.
Insist on quality thread and lining fabric if you need it, as anything else will not only ruin the look but might also drain colour, spoiling the rest of the outfit.
Don’t shy away from getting the outfit redone if it has not been constructed to your satisfaction. Even if it requires several alterations, ensure the fit is just right, otherwise the entire project would have been pointless.
From HT Brunch, October 23
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