If you get a call from your tailor asking, “how far? I have new designs that will fit you”, don’t be surprised. That has become a common practice among them these days as most people have abandoned making new clothes due to the cost of purchasing the materials and of sewing them.
Many tailors have abandoned the trade as a result and the few sticking to it are now doing direct marketing. A yard of cotton material which used to be N200 is now about N3,000 and many fashion enthusiasts can’t put up with that.
A banker, Mrs.Osamudiame Mary, told Economy&Lifestyle that her tailor who has never called her for some time, contacted her to ask if she has any material to sew.
“I was in the house this week when I received a call from my tailor asking if I have materials to make.
“She has been making my clothes for over seven years and has never called to ask me such.
“She further explained that she has beautiful materials and matching designs and has made them to my size.
“I was very surprised but when I narrated the story to a friend, she also told me that her tailor called her too.
“But this time asking if she could visit my friend to pick up materials to sew”, Osamudiame said.
Mrs. Ezinne Amadi, a tailor who spoke to Economy & Lifestyle, complained bitterly about the rise in the cost of materials especially cotton materials and net fabrics such as tulle, maline, and crinoline, among others.
“The cost of materials has increased. When you get to the market to buy a linen or net fabric or even flowers and stones to design an outfit, you discover the price has tripled and when you finish making the outfit, you have little or no profit for your services.
“This has made tailors increase the cost of making a dress and the increase has resulted in a decline in patronage as many could not afford such prices.
“I had to do self-marketing by calling most of my customers who have not patronized me for long. I look for their measurement and buy good materials from which I make outfits with beautiful designs.
“Most of them complained bitterly of thinking about food and paying bills. Two women even told me that buying aso-ebi or materials to sew is not on their agenda at all. But when I marketed my new already made designs they were interested. Some make the payment twice others once. But the profit on it is small but better than having nothing.
The money of paying rent for my shop is also there. I pay N120,000 per annum for my shop because it is close to the main road and we all know businesses thrive in such locations.
“Recently, I was told by the caretaker that the rent has increased to N200, 000. Where do I get such money in this state where customer patronage has reduced? How much do I make from this business?
“I have decided to move out of the shop and make clothes from my house when it gets worse.
Mr. Kola Adeyemi, a fashion designer, also explained that the cost of making a man’s clothing is expensive due to the rise in the cost of accessories.
This he said consumes most of the profit a tailor would have saved to pay other bills such as rent.
“Some people see the tailoring business as something you make a huge profit from because of the charges on services.
“Meanwhile 97 per cent of the money goes to purchasing accessories added to materials to make an outfit.
“The remaining money isn’t enough to take care of bills including the shop rent which has increased over the years.
“Many of my colleagues in this profession have left for other businesses while some others are now workers in other fashion designing houses.
“I am struggling to keep the business moving. I do self-marketing by going to the market to get materials and sew them at a lesser price. I call some of my customers and advertise these designs to them. When they order, I do free delivery to encourage more patronage.
“One must be very innovative to survive in anything you do today.”
Apart from the high cost of materials and other clothing accessories, the increase in the cost of renting a shop is also sending tailors out of business.
With as low as N20,000 per annum, you can rent a shop for a few years ago.
Sometimes most of the built shops lay empty for months without any occupants because people were after white-collar jobs.
After the economic recession in 2018, many never recovered. The situation was aggravated by the Covid’19 pandemic where people lost their jobs and many fell back on their acquired skills for survival.
Hence, they struggle to get a shop to dispense services based on their skills.
Today the rise in the sourcing of space to trade coupled with the increase in goods and services has led to a hike in the cost of renting a shop. This has affected the livelihood of artisans, especially tailors.
Mr Afeez Olorunsogo, a property agent, said that artisan’s high demand for shops, the cost of building materials and maintenance is the cause of the increase in shop rents.
“To rent a shop now you have to keep up to N250,000 to N1 million depending on the location of the shop.”