Our Tailor Really Suits Us

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By Will

About a month into my first semester at SMA Ngoro, I was told to go to the teachers’ office immediately because the tailor was here to measure me for our school uniforms. Pak Wahid took all of my measurements, asked me whether I wanted pockets on my shirt, and that was that. Two weeks later, I had a perfect fitting uniform. That’s when I first met Pak Wahid.

Pak Wahid's shop

A little different than the clothes you would find back home.

Every village has several tailors here, due to a high value being placed on being presentable. It would be crazy to buy a shirt, uniform or dress clothes without having them tailored. Even more, most people get their clothes handmade. Due to such an abundance of tailors, the cost to have clothing custom made is incredibly cheap. A shirt runs about $6. The suit that I had made that you’ll see below cost me about $45 in material and $40 in labor.

Choosing material at one of the famous fabric stores about an hour from our house.

Choosing material at one of the famous fabric stores about an hour from our house.

When I’ve shared with friends here that most Americans don’t have their clothes tailored and custom made clothes are only for the rich, they can’t believe it. How could we not want our clothes tailored!?

Of course, not all tailors are created equally and that’s where we’ve really lucked out with Pak Wahid. He was well-trained in Surabaya, but rather than staying in the city, he decided to head back to smaller town and village life. He now has an army of assistants and people from all around the surrounding area bring their clothes to him.

One of the top assistants

One of the top assistants

As we are wrapping up our time here, we both wanted to get some clothes made that we can wear back home in our next jobs. For less than $100, I got a suit and three dress shirts that fit like a glove. He is currently working on another suit for me that I took to him after seeing how great the first one turned out.

When I told someone here how much it would likely cost to get custom made clothes back home, they suggested we just spend that money to take Pak Wahid to Kentucky with us.

See some of what we had made and other pictures here:

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4 thoughts on “Our Tailor Really Suits Us

  1. I LOVED the clothes I had made in the Philippines, and lived in them for the next few years after getting home, sadly watching them age, and replacing with off the rack things. Enjoy this wonderfulness.

  2. Just like Rhonda I treasured the Ghanian style shirts I had in Ghana, made by my local Nigerian tailor. He was meticulous in matching cut patterns. 3 yards would buy you enough cloth to make a shirt. I loved going to cloth markets.The big deal cloth was Dutch West Indies Wax Print Cloth from Java ! A long history of trade in the 1800s. The original cloth lasts for years because it is dyed so well and Ghanians treasured it, they bartered their own designs on the cloth. There are a lot of fake dutch wax print cloths out their now but when I was in Ghana you could get the real thing.

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