Monday, September 19, 2011

Tailors, Fabrics and other "get it made" stuff

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time once again for the season change in Kuwait and as such, time for me to remind you people about where to go to have clothes made.

Kuwait rocks when it comes to having stuff made:  Clothes, furniture, cabinets, drapes, even funky Indian shoes.  I've had all kindsa stuff made here (everything mentioned in that last sentence) and can make recommendations about where to go for each.

So let's start our talk with tailors.  Having recently been on a fabric-buying trip with Stella and M (to be nicknamed later), (and having our butts stared at by 4.2 hundred nasty men in the fabric souq)  I thought I would share the information I have learned about having clothes made here. 

You gotta start with the fabric and be ready to be disciplined.  The fabric souq downtown (map is on this post) is going to shake your discipline because you will see thousands of gorgous fabrics and you just "know" that  you can have something (anything) made from it.  So you buy it and then wonder what you will do with it.  (I'll get to "Where do I get it made?" in a minute.) Unfortunately, it is full of icky men (WHY?) who stare.  You'll also notice that Esmeralda and her sisters are in there buying fabrics for The Ball at any given time.  (Sometimes Esmeralda wants to jack your Western style, so she'll come rushing into the store to see what  you're buying while she rudely starts ordering the guy  helping YOU pick out fabrics what to pull out for her.  Out-diva the diva!)

The fabric souq - also known as "Block 9" is in downtown Kuwait.

The first building of stores (towards Mubarak Al-Kabeer Street) are more upscale and you can find baGORGEOUS fabrics for dresses, blouses, etc in silk, silk velvet, linen and other nice weaves.  I loves me some silk chiffon. Give it to me, baby (uh huh, uh huh..)

It also has men's fabric stores (light wool - "winter dishtasha" material; good for suiting for both men and women) and houses Karim Tailor (which is the best place in town to have men's suits, women's business suits, and coats made).  Karim Tailor is on the 2nd floor in the middle. Take Karim Tailors a favorite old wool coat and they can replicate it.

The first building also houses a lot of upholstery material shops.  Re-upholstering anything you have is less expensive than in the US/UK.  If you are indecisive (like me),  you can even have sofa/chairs made (to be discussed later in this post) with different slipcovers.  (I'm feeling a need to have some made even now as I'm writing this.)  You can have matching pillows, bedspread, and curtains made, fer example.  Nisssche. 

The 2nd building has less-expensive (and some hoochie-mama) fabrics and lots of notions stores.  It is also where you can find Indian Heritage.

Indian Heritage is one of my favorite fabric stores.  A lot of expats know the store.  It is the BEST place to get raw ("chanton") silk - in just about any imaginable color.  It sells for KD5($18) meter (which is way better than the $100/M it goes for in the US of Hey).  Indian Heritage also has all kindsa other awesome fabrics, ready-made Indian clothing, furniture, costume jewelry, bed and table linens, pillow covers and more.  It is a great place to stock up on Christmas gifts.  Indian Heritage is fixed price, but most of the other fabric stores are not, soooooo....Haggle!

If you want to have funky Indian shoes made (genie shoes that curl at the toes), there is a shop behind the 2nd building to the left as  you walk out.  I got my sister some genie shoes one year for Christmas. (Photo is similar - mine were way cute pink with sequins.)

NEGOTIATE!  Don't be timid.  "Akher shay" is how to ask for a better price.  Tell them what I do:  that I have 8 children, my husband was a Kuwaiti martyr and today is my birthday.  Work it!

Otay, for the ladies:  If you want to have a ballgown, dress, trousers, or even beadwork or embroidery, Elegance Tailors in Jabriya is THE place to go. Shams is your guy.  He is a wonderful tailor and pays close attention to detail.  Phone:  25325865.  Elegance is in the Commercial Block is behind Mubarak Hospital on the same street as the Philippines Embassy, Block 7, Street 103.  There are a lot of other shops in the building and many do really beautiful embroidery work.  Elegance is on the right (if you walk in from the front of the building) with wood panneling on the front.  (Again, Esmeralda might be there trying to push you out of the way - push back.  I do.)

Shams is very good, but you should make sure that you get properly fit when the item is finished.  He can also copy anything you bring him and if  you bring him your fabric and a photo, he'll make it for you.  Pattern?  We don't need no stinking pattern!   Do not EVER go to any tailor in Kuwait before Eid.  It isn't pretty.  Everybody and their mother is getting new clothes for Eid and there is a backlog.  Usually, anything takes about a week to complete.

Otay, so on to furniture.  Say you like a 10,000 designer sofa that you saw in the US of Hey (the one I liked was $6000 and shipping at $1500)... get a photo, get some dimensions, get your butt to Dajeej. Or maybe you saw an incredibly overpriced sofa or other piece of furniture at a local store.  Sneak photos, but be discreet.  Most places are onto the furniture copying trick.   The place I had my sofa made in Dajeej is no longer there.  I would recommend that you visit several shops and look at their work.  Then, start asking for quotations on how much they would make it for.  I recommend picking out your fabric FIRST (a lot of the fabrics in Dajeej are less expensive but of a lesser quality than what you would find at the Fabric Souq), and then have the furniture makers in Dajeej tell you how much fabric you will need.  Sometimes, you can bring a swatch and a card from the fabric store, and let the furniture makers buy it cheaper for you.  If you can take an Arab with you to the furniture maker, it is even better because they will haggle the sh&t out of it.  My sofa took about 10 days to make.  Don't be afraid to make them make adjustments if it isn't perfect - it is YOUR money and YOUR furniture. (I heard a lot of blah blah blah about why they couldn't - whatever - and one scream settled it.)

There are also carpenters in Dajeej - just drive around.  They can make dining room tables, chairs, cabinets - all kinds of stuff.   There are carpenters in Shuwaikh too (off Canada Dry Street - near where the banks are near 55 - Airport Road).  Those guys make ANYTHING:  Chairs, doors, cabinets, room dividers, outdoor benches/furniture.  It is way cool just to go there and check them out.

So, here are the maps.     Have fun.


Fabric Souq downtown.






Elegance Tailors in Jabriya.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much DG for the info! I have been thinking for ages to get something made but just haven't gotten around to the logistics of it all. The map is helpful and all of your tips too!!!! :-))

LWDLIK said...

Can't believe I haven't seen you down there. I love the place, yes dress ugly to go there. Great advice as always. Will be trying out Shams. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi DG, thanks for the tips! I have some fabric i'd like sewn into curtains, where can I go? The strip of tailors in Jabriya don't do curtains :(

Thanks

Hana

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I used Karim tailor this past week and they were great. There are so many gems like this in Kuwait that one never hears about unless they know someone or a blogger posts about it.

Evon said...

very useful Info DG......! thank you.
Could you please let me know who can stitch curtains for me, i need to get this done before Christmas is here.

Desert Girl said...

Curtains: You can have them made anywhere you buy fabric in Kuwait. They'll come to your house, measure, make them, go back to your house and install them. I used these guys: 2571-5618 in Salmiya. They were cheap. I don't know if the number is still valid or not - it has been 3 years. However, likesay - you can have them made anywhere.

dudette said...

you saved me im in desperate need of a good tailor .. and im looking for someone who would work full time in a boutique as well !
:)
Thanks for ur post dude very interesting and useful

Bobbi said...

My husband has had several suits made by Karim and they are amazing. I had one made as well and the fit blew my mind. This man knows what he is doing!!!

Bobbi Scheck

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post, if you (or anyone else) knows where I can find a female tailor please help me. :(

Thanks all

Ali Albaghli said...

I am a Kuwaiti citizen but have spent my whole adult life in America. I am back now and I am completely lost. The internet isn't anywhere as useful as it was in the US for stuff like this and my GPS frequently lies to me here (assuming it even accepts the destination). Thanks for info! I shall be going to Karim tailor soon. If you had their number then that would be immensely appreciated.

Ali Albaghli said...

Karim's prices are up. 60kd for a suit and another 10kd for a vest.

Anonymous said...

Any updates on alternative tailors (other than Karim)? Going to start "summer" suit shopping this weekend.....

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 2:29 - I don't know about men's tailors, but I know that there is a new posh one in the Avenues, Grand Avenue (past Starbucks/Cheesecake Factory and down a lane to the left). Smells expensive...

Thedarzi Group said...

Thanks for sharing with us great blog. I really like this blog aboutBespoke tailoring services

Ginny said...

Hi Desert Girl,

I'm trying to call Elegance Tailor but I can't get through. Do you have another phone number or another tailor's contact info?

Anonymous said...

Can I have Karim tailor's number? does he stitch Lady suits?

Thedarzi Group said...

Thank you for the wonderful blog. It is indeed informative and useful We are into the same business. For know more about us, please visit for Formal Suits & Bespoke tailoring services .

Desert Girl said...

Aakriti Fashions Kuwait: Please read my policy on advertising.

Invite me. If I like your services, I write about you or post a comment.

tan said...

Hi so i am absolutely terrible at reading maps and trying to follow directions, i can get by using google maps, is there any way you can get the location of the souk please i would rally really appreciate it?

Desert Girl said...

Tan - LL coordinates: 29.3723135, 47.9795049,504

Shelly said...

Hello, I have just relocated to Kuwait. Been looking for furniture and been to Pottery Barn and The One. They are quite expensive. Plus I had a couple of pieces that I wanted to get replicated. I was wondering if the furniture shops that you have written about are still there? Is the finish nice? Would you be able to help me with a couple of names? Where should I go?

Would be very grateful for your help and advise.

Desert Girl said...

Hi Shelly.

All the furniture here is expensive! The place that I had my sofa made is gone now (was called "Sophia"). I had a table and benches made at a carpentry shop near Banta (right behind Lulu, actually) that has all kinds of wood furniture in front. It was a knock-off from a Crate & Barrel design. The original cost $3000. I had it made 15 years ago for less than 100KD.

I would recommend is that you bring a fabric sample, a photo and dimensions; then go look around the furniture shops in Dhajeej (off 6th Ring Road where Sears is located). Look at the quality of the furniture that they have made. Ask them about what type of wood they use. I had one sofa made by Kakooli (there are 2 shops in Dhajeej I believe) years ago that was very good quality. But be sure to give them dimensions. Then ask them for price and how long it will take to have made.

Shelly said...

Thank you so much!

I must confess I am overwhelmed. I have been moving countries every two - three years the last 15 years, but it is the first time that I feel really lost in a country.

I am not sure how true this is but everyone I meet tells me "there is nothing to do in Kuwait". While I refuse to believe that, it is a little depressing to hear so many people say that :-( Even the Kuwaiti kids in my son's international school told him the same.

I have been here for a week, just moved into our apartment, plus I have worked all my life and suddenly I am at home. I guess that is why I feel very unsettled. So a friendly voice like yours is such a welcome delight!

JPo said...

Is Elegance Tailor still open?

Mariam C. said...

Yes! I just came from there.