It is an interesting time for fashion in Dhaka right now. More and more people are becoming aware of their appearance, and there is a shift in perspective to that end. We want the hottest and the latest in fashion, and nothing less will do! Back in the days, we Dhakaites used to joke that trends that have become tired everywhere else in the world come crawling to Dhaka, but those days are behind us for sure. Fancy new shopping spaces are bursting at the seams with the most happening designs of the day. There is something for everyone, catering to every budget and whim. Demand begets supply; fashion has become a lifestyle for us Dhakaites, and we sure are keeping up! And a thriving social scene inevitably requires us to put our best foot forward round the year, not just during festive season. We Dhakaites now like to be at our stylish best, always.
It is a very positive change, for sure. However, wise fashionistas are well aware that quantity and quality are not always mutually inclusive. Major fashion houses work within a template of fixed designs which is then mass produced and distributed. Small boutiques don't really offer much variation and often do offer neither customisation nor alteration. And there is always the whole situation of fabric/colour/embroidery combination that takes complication to a whole new level. A generic way to dressing just doesn't cut it; we all like to stand out. At first glance, the aforementioned stores and the ready-to-wear options they offer may seem enticing, but in reality, they often fail to solve the problem for many.
This is where tailoring shops come in. If you want outfits that are one of a kind and truly unique, this is the way to go. Let's begin with Chandni Chowk, Gawsia and New Market, the holy trinity of tailoring shops that offer a staggering amount of options to suit your every need. There is a specialised tailor for every style and kind of outfit in the bylanes of these places, quietly whirring away with his sewing machine, weaving magic. These tailors are the most experienced in their craft in Dhaka city and offer quality service. Priyangon market is another place with quality tailors, and is located conveniently within the same area. The most attractive quality of these places is their proximity to materials. Anything your heart desires, you are likely to find in these markets, be it fabric for your dress, embellishments of all sorts and more. Workshops specialising in all manners are located in Gawsia and Priyangon market. There you will find stores that do block print, embroideries of all kinds, zardozi, karchupi and much more. A classic choice for women looking for a one-stop haunt, these are your go-to places.
A couple other places that have cropped up in recent years for dress making are Banani Super market and Pink City in Gulshan. The former is home to many tailoring shops and material stores that provide good quality service. Albeit much smaller in scope and magnitude, it is North Dhaka's answer to Gawsia and Chandni Chowk related needs. Prices tend to be a bit higher compared to those places, so choose carefully. Tailoring shops in Pink City can be considered the most upscale ones in Dhaka City at the moment, featuring many stores that sell dress materials and a tailoring corner is located very conveniently inside the store. Prices tend to be the highest here, a regular set of kameez and shalwar will set you back by Tk 1,500-Tk 2,000, and it tends to go up depending on the style and embellishments. Service and overall experience tends to be good here.
Apart from these places, many other spots in the city have tailoring hubs such as Mirpur, Taltola in Khilgaon, Kalabagan and Mohammadpur. The best thing to do is to take a tour, and get the feel and vibe of a place. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind if you are planning to get clothes tailor-made:
Prepare in advance. Choose the design beforehand and take a reference picture to avoid confusion.
Keep plenty of time in hand. Most tailors tend to take longer than promised, especially during the festive seasons.
Write your instructions down on a piece of paper and explain it well to the tailor. It is a bad idea to trust tailors blindly with designs and other stuff as most of them don't remember them.
Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed