As one of the basic necessities of life and living, the interest to celebrate the festive period with clothing materials did not wane among the residents of Abuja during the Yuletide. So, despite the outcry of economic hardship in the country, most Abuja residents still lamented the high rate of disappointments suffered in the hands of their tailors during the festive period.
From the city centre to the suburb, it was expression of anger and disappointment as situations were replete with stories of the inability of many tailors to meet up with their agreed date of collection of their clothes.
The art of making clothes which usually comes with high patronage and goes beyond ordinary sewing and mending requires high level of creativity to understand different fabrics and styles suitable for each customer.
The business of making cloths has always been hectic especially during festive periods. It is understandably due to the increase in demand. Most tailors usually on the receiving end always attribute their inability to meet up with the agreement with their customers to challenges like demand for express services and lack of steady power supply.
Some residents of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, expressed disgust that they gave fabrics to tailors early enough to enable them make use of them during the festival but ended up being disappointed. Hellel Atama from Kuje narrated her ordeal:
“I gave my tailor of five years some clothes to sow for me to use for a friend’s traditional marriage scheduled for December 28 last year. For fear of disappointment, I had given it to my tailor on December 1, ensuring that she had four weeks to make the clothes. She assured me that the clothes would be ready in three weeks, precisely on December 21.
“I gave her one day extra and decided to go for collection on December 22. He told me she was almost done with the dress, emphasising that it remained only the beads. She pleaded with me to come back the next day. When I got there the next day, her shop was locked her phone switched off and till date, I have not heard from her.
“I was so confused, disappointed. That was how I appeared awkward like a total stranger in a wedding that I started the planning from the onset.”
A resident of Mpape, Chika Obiora, recounted: “I gave the clothes I had planned to use this festive period to my tailor and he assured me that it would be ready before December 25. When I went to his shop on the agreed date for collection, I was told by his workers that he went out.
So, I decided to call him on phone and he told me to check back in an hour’s time. As I was leaving his shop, I mistakenly moved into the sowing room, only to see my clothes the way I brought it. I was so disappointed because that was the clothes I planned to travel with the next day.”
Another resident of Maitama, James Adah, was rather livid with anger over the disappointment from his tailor for damaging his clothes and other friends’ he directed to him: “John has been my tailor for years. When one of my friends was preparing for his wedding and I was among the men on suit, I convinced the other people that I have I good tailor. They all agreed and we gave the clothes to John.
“After two weeks as agreed, he called me that our clothes are ready. So, I joyfully called my men so that we can go together for the collection. On getting there, we decided to try our clothes. It was like I was dreaming because almost all the clothes had one fault or the other. For some, one hand was bigger and longer while for others, the legs were of different styles.
“When we started quarrelling, he then confessed that it was his apprentice that made the clothes because he was too busy with other materials from other customers. I have not known peace since that day because my friends had been on my neck for taken them to a bad tailor. We had to use our old suit because the new one was condemned. I was totally frustrated, if I knew, I would have allowed them to use their own tailors.”
Susan Usman also expressed disappoint that her tailor delivered the clothes her children were supposed to use on Christmas day on December 31: “I gave her the clothes since November because I never wanted to hear any excuse, but what I was avoiding still happened.
“I didn’t see the clothes, she was always telling me to come back the next day until the last day of the year. Before I could collect the clothes I made a lot of trouble with her and had to even sleep in her shop because once I leave the shop, she would drop mine and pick another customer’s clothes.
“It was not easy because the children could not allow me to rest in the house in anticipation of their new dress. I concluded that I will never sow clothes during festive period again.”
Tailors on the other argued that it is very wrong to put the entire blame on them, insisting that they are not the main cause of the disappointments. They blamed the inability of customers to deposit reasonable amount of money for sowing of the clothes as major cause of the disappointment, stressing that some of the clothes they used their money to make are still lying in their shops.
Don Sammy, Wuse, argued that disappointing customers at that period of the year is usually inevitable due to the pressure by most people to collect their clothes before Christmas. He said to meet up with the high demand he had to employ additional hands, extended service time and even rejected express services: “It is very difficult not to disappoint customers in this festive period because most of them will not bring their clothes on time.
“They will bring it late and be looking for express services. I tried not to disappoint my customers because I made sure that I stopped receiving clothes as early as December 15.
“I am not the one that disappointed the customers rather they did because most of the clothes I used my money to make are still in the shop, yet to be collected by the owners.”
Another tailor, Oluchi Emma, attributed appointment to express services demand: “Last year’s seasonal work took a different style altogether. I normally stop receiving cloth from customers by December 10. But last year was like there would be no work till the dying minutes customers started showing up from nowhere.
“So, even with the extra hands and time I added I was not able to meet up with their demands. Therefore, I had to lock up my shop, switch off my phone and looked for a quiet place to rest my head. It was not my making; but because they brought most of the clothes late.”