Sluggish tailoring business to pick up as nation continues to record straight zero new COVID-19 cases

Azlan Othman

Only a few days away from the Hari Raya celebrations, the men and women who normally provide outfits for the festive season are still hoping for an increase in the number of customers in what is supposed to be the busiest time of the year.

Mohamad Jaleel bin Haji Abdul Rahman, who owns four tailor shops in a commercial building at Kampong Mulaut, said business was only 10 per cent of what it used to be, following the first report of the COVID-19 infection in Brunei.

“We used to work from noon up to 3am during the peak period. But now following slow business, my staff is working from noon to 10pm,” he said.

“The landlord has been generous enough to reduce the rent to 10 to 20 per cent during these hard times. Now, life is all about surviving and paying the rent. I can only hope that business will pick up after this pandemic is over.”

Nil binti Salleh, who has been operating her tailoring business for 20 years in Kampong Sengkurong, said she relies on regular customers to stay afloat.

Nil binti Salleh in her tailor shop in Kampong Sengkurong. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN
ABOVE & BELOW: Mohamad Jaleel bin Haji Abdul Rahman who owns four tailor shops in Kampong Mulaut; and Ali bin Mohamed from Zulkader & Company tailor shop

“Although there is no Hari Raya mood this year, a small number of customers are still ordering clothes to be worn at work,” she said.

“I hardly had any young customers this year who normally want clothes embroidered with intricate beads, costing up to BND150 per set, which are also used during wedding functions.

“It seems that the younger generation isn’t keen to order Hari Raya clothing. Most of my customers are married with families of their own, who tend to order clothes at around BND18 to BND35.”

She added, “It’s been quite gloomy for tailors this year. We depend on customers for our livelihood.”

Ali bin Mohamed, who has been working for 10 years at Zulkader & Company, said business dropped to 70 per cent following reports of the outbreak.

“It used to be that we closed shop at around 10pm, but now we close at 8pm,” he said.

“People are too scared to celebrate the upcoming Hari Raya festivities and stitch new clothes. We can still cater to our customers, unlike in the past years where we couldn’t accommodate any more requests for tailoring jobs during this period.”