September 20, 2006

Shine Garments rip

During my last term in college, some of us were looking for a “chill” course and came across “international trade”, presumably full of international gyan! Unfortunately, the course was a tough cookie and remains a mystery but for one comment; “free trade benefits societies as a whole but not all individuals”.

Shine Garments was our village tailor shop (Shine being his son and my class mate) which our family frequented. Over the years, the shop grew from owner-operated to employ 5-6 people! During festivals, he would be working overtime but always found time to deliver mine on time even delaying my brother’s work (which enraged my bro). Once, I overheard him telling my dad that he refused an offer from “Gulf” as business was far too profitable to close down.

Then slowly things started to unravel. I noticed the change in my brother first; infuriated by delays and being “fashionable” he switched to “ready made”. I remained loyal for a while but soon began to like the convenience as well. The tailor noticed my absence and once caught hold of me and remonstrated and a chastened me went back to “tailor made”.

Nowadays, on trips to Kerala, I often go by his shop but never enters, partly out of embarrassment and partly because I have no reason to. But he was one of those fixtures on which you hang memories of a pleasant childhood. However, I did notice that the shop was looking less prosperous with fewer freshly stitched shirts on display. On a recent trip, I noticed that the shop had disappeared. I asked around, fearing death, and was relieved to hear that shop had been shifted to another location. Next day, I found the much smaller new shop and went up to chat with him (relieved he was alive but guilty for thinking he was not!) and asked about Shine. The answer was painful!

“Ready made” garments destroyed his business so badly that he had to fire all his employees. Hence, Shine decided to go to “Gulf” as construction labor. He still runs what is left, being too old to try his luck in “Gulf”. The main portion of his income now comes from “alteration” of “ready made” clothes but he also works 2 days a week as an in-house tailor in a garment shop.

After chatting for a while, I left and on the way back decided to get a pair of trousers stitched. But that didn’t seem enough; I represented a group which gained massively from the new economy while he represented the group of which my professor spoke; the ones who lost for the changes that benefited society as a whole!


PS: I never managed to get those 2 trousers pieces stitched; I was too lazy and instead purchased a few “ready made” back in Mumbai…unfortunately I don’t even feel guilty!


Jiby said...

anish, u wont believe this...i actually was planning to write about this phenomenon sometime soon...there was this provision store owner at our junction who was growing more and more prosperous...i remember there were some hanger-ons who wud even call him mothalaali...and i used to be in awe of the way he handled his customer relations...but soon a supermarket came by, then another, then came margin-free stores and the poor guy just cudnt compete with these people. i heard from my mother that he is suffering from depression and rarely visits his shop these days coz all those customers who were like his friends b4 ceased to visit.

i wonder what his and other such storeowners condition will become when wal-mart opens here! i guess there are so many million people like the ones u and i mentioned who didnt realize the changes happening in the world around them.

superb post...if only u wud be back to regular blogging!

Anonymous said...

I second what Jiby said, you must write more often. You are one of the few good writers in blogosphere :)

Well... we gals are yet to cash in on the ready made craze. We are too fussy and the tailor is as part of our life as splitends. We all our favorite tailors and it is an intimate relationship ;) No man has touched a gal the way a tailor has without getting slapped. But then that is because we want every curve accentuated and you can't do that with readymade regulaton sizes can you? :p Which is why Ladies Tailors will never go out of business :))

p.s. I know someone who is thinking of a profession switch! ;)

Anonymous said...

Thought you would write when you heard about Steve Irwin's untimely death.

Anyway, This post is worth the wait. Good one. Have always wondered why these ShopKeepers and tailors don't move with the tide, why they compromise.. May be coz they dont want to risk what they have.

- Roopa

Matter of Choice said...

thankx guys for the comments!!

@ Jiby: True, change always does that but that is no reason to stop the change it self. Individual stories are painful but the change makes economic sense. I last stitched a trouser about a decade back for 150 in my village (it was already costing 250 in town by then). What would have happened to the stitching cost today had most of the people not moved for "ready made"?

@ silverine: have to disagree. Whenever i travelled abroad i have seen women wearing dresses which accentuates curves far more than done by Indian women here(and i dont mean showing skin..talking abt regular office/street wear here). But then i guess it is also because of a self-confidence seldom seen here!
ps: had no clue what was meant by splitends :)

@ roopa: well it is going to be difficult to "move on" when u are 60+ and the only job that u have been doing for the last 50 years suddenly disappears!!.
ps: btwn are u a roopa who works in CTS?

Bombay Dosti said...

great to have you back!!!
Frankly never thought in this perspective... its a cycle, without the ready made shop, the young man in the family was left without a job and with no skill - and just the useless pride of being educated.

Anonymous said...

Well, i wasnt talking about this particular case. I have seen youngsters do that.

p.s. I am not that Roopa. Just a casual browser.

- Roopa

Anonymous said...

hmm..agree with u...but I guess the tailor was never into ladies tailoring . then he d have become a mighty entrpreneur by now...
Coz we like our salwars stiched to perfection and in the styles we need....ready made offers very few boutiques are thriving in my place. In fact the shop I visit is run by an ex- bank employee who had a successful career earlier ...

Praveen said...

hey great post, anish, and you can write very well and hopefully you will write more often.

I guess its amazing our association with some shops and establishments since early days and the curiosity to know what happened to them eventually, this is something described very well in this post of yours.

Anonymous said...

Nice post!
Ya this is another one of globalizations changes that can be dubbed under the heading "while we were sleeping"

The next wave of these changes is already happening with the Pantaloons and Reliance's jumping into the retail arena. Soon the remaining mom and pop stores will be history.
I guess as long as schools have uniforms tailors wont go out of business!

Deepthi said...

Firstly, ur post brought things into perspective for me, although i had read enough about natives losing their jobs and businesses.

And seriuosly, u ought to write more. (Chanced upon ur bog after reading a comment on silverin's blog.)

sandone1390 said...

Nowadays, the ready made garments destroyed the business badly to fire all the employees. In this post,shine takes an excellent idea to go to Gulf as construction labor. The main portion of income now comes to raises rapidly for alteration of ready made clothes and also shine works 2 days in a week as an in-house tailor in a garment shop. This post is very interesting to read for most of the garments shop tailor.

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