Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

There is something more precious than chilis in Phuentsholing town these days: tailors.

About half the tailor shops in the town remain closed.

Residents are rushing from one tailor to another requesting them for various tailoring tasks.

With schools reopening, parents are under pressure to stitch uniforms and other clothes or alter them to fit their children.

After making two rounds around town, a resident Sonam Tshomo yesterday sat at a tailor shop and helped a tailor to stitch a kira.

“Tailors are too busy these days,” she said. “Many are running around to find a tailor who can take orders.”

Chikthuen Tailoring Centre’s owner, Rinzin Gyelmo, said there was a huge dearth of tailors in town. “And there is an acute shortage of those who stitch ghos,” she said.

Rinzin Gyelmo said she recently hired two tailors, who stitch gho, from Paro.  Today, she has only one.  The other one does not come to work regularly, she said.

But the one with her can only finish up two child-size ghos in a day.

“Gho-stitching orders keep coming. Orders are coming from the schools, individuals, but I can’t deliver. I have to refuse many orders and I’m under huge pressure these days,” Rinzin Gyelmo said.

Rinzin Gyelmo also said besides gho, she also gets increasing orders to stitch casual wear clothes.

Chikthuen Tailoring Centre, which started operating in March 2020, currently has three tailors including Rinzin Gyelmo.  A tailor, who worked with her, left and opened her own shop.

“We are about five to six shops today but there are no experts,” Rinzin Gyelmo said.

The situation is no different at Tshering Lhamo’s tailor shop, which opened about a month ago.

“But I don’t know how to stitch a gho,” she said, adding that she was looking for help. “There are a few who want to join but they are housewives and have to tend to children.”

Tshering Lhamo, who works alone, said she learned tailoring in 2014 while she was living in Jaigaon.  She said she stitched other clothes but didn’t have the expertise to stitch traditional ones.

“There is a huge demand but I can’t provide the service,” she said, adding she mostly does the minor repairs.

Considering the interest among residents to learn to tailor, tailors say there was a big opportunity to improve tailoring services in the town. “But given the huge workload at present, we haven’t time to conduct such a training,” a tailor said.

The only tailor shop fully equipped to stitch gho and kira is TL Tailor, which has four tailors. “We are only four and one is still learning,” its owner Tashi Lham said.

Tashi Lham said that Nazhoen Lamten helped her and the team start the shop.  All the tailoring equipment and tools were provided.