Tailor or Designer Woes?

KLAt one time or the other we’ve all had tailors. They delivered and made us happy, even though happiness is relative, let’s say we were adequately satisfied. When I say ‘we’ I speak for the womenfolk, although I’m certain there are stylish men out there concerned with clothes and how it reflects them. However, I choose not to speak for them but hope they will share some of their experiences in the comment section and share how it relates to them on this topic.

Like I raised earlier, when it comes to clothes, the latest trend and essentially looking good, women take it extremely seriously. Part of this involves sewing clothes when necessary and this involves finding the right person to make them. It’s easier to buy readymade clothes I know, but when you want to play with fabrics and other things it’s better to make that outfit and be the envy of friend and foe alike. Finding the ‘right’ tailor (or designer if you will) to do this is the rub.

A while back getting the tailor that will not only understand what you want, translate it into the finished product, whilst doing a good job was an entire production. Paying the deposit and agreeing on the collection date was the easiest part. The hardest part was actually collecting the finished clothes as agreed. I don’t know how many people actually got theirs on the actual day promised, it was usually one excuse after the other. Some always added a week or two to the agreed date to ensure it would be ready…despite this extension there was still no guarantee.

This shifting timeline was very inconvenient especially since the shop was always quite a distance. Have you noticed how apparently ‘good tailors’ were never in the same vicinity but in far flung areas like Shomolu, Iyana-Ipaja, Agege, Iju? Like I said these were great distances relative to where the customer lived. So to forestall disappointments, despite the travelling it entailed an extension was required.

This also meant that if you needed the outfit for an event in two weeks, it was better to give it months ahead to ensure it would be ready. Another aspect of this love hate relationship is the fact that a ‘good tailor’ was usually discovered. This could be by way of an outfit you saw on someone and asked for details or you went a looking since your current one had messed up one too many times. Word of mouth and the experience of those wearing said clothes was (and is still important today) crucial in whether you were going to switch allegiance.

Sometimes the switch might not go as well as you wanted and you return to the former dressmaker, in this situation the devil you know being better than the one you don’t. Frustration, exasperation and satisfaction are common emotions between a lady and her tailor or designer. The latter being a new breed that has evolved to deliver better service and fill a gap the previous could not. The difference is not only to be found in training but in attitude and service delivery as well. This is not in all cases since some designers leave a lot to be desired and some tailors beat the so called elite by a wide margin.

Designers come in different categories and comprise some that attended higher institutions and are graduate;, as a result the tailor title simple does not fit. Others attended specialised schools in dressmaking, from the renowned local institutions to the internationally acclaimed. There’s another category that may not have any formal training but believe that the accumulated experience over the years has earned them the appellation. It’s quite common for the ‘designer’ to have ‘tailors’ working for them.

I’ve had my fair share of suffering from ‘designer’ and ‘tailor’ alike. On one occasion despite the agreed terms I got no feedback for about three months. I was quite busy at that time and obviously did not need the outfit. Eventually I discovered her shop and its contents were lost to fire and she claimed she did not know how to get the word to me. To put it mildly, I was shocked and very surprised at this revelation, thankfully no life was lost and the fabric could always be replaced. Shortly afterwards, this designer got a job and left the trade.

In another incident, half the agreed amount was paid and for two months all my calls, texts, mail and other overtures were ignored. I had to get creative and send emissaries (is it only female designers that use this tactic?), eventually we met but the clothes are still under construction as I write, hopefully they will be delivered…someday.  Every tale differs as does every ‘tailor’ or ‘designer’, finding the one (or none) that works for you is the bottom line! Which do you prefer, ‘tailor’ or ‘designer’?

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