Future Tailors by Marie Venø Thesbjerg
Danida mini project educates tailors in Bhutan. The new tailor’s own designs for sale are the results of six months of tailoring training
By Marie Venø Thesbjerg
A grey smoking, a purple silk shirt and a neat designed woollen jacket. The team of newly educated tailors proudly exhibit their new designs on a yearly textile fair at the Swimming Pool Complex in Thimphu. Among hand-woven kiras, stripy ghos and colourful scarfs, the tailors show their own designs of western inspired clothes. The tailors are the first in Bhutan to design and sew western designed trousers. They call them selves “Mawongpa”, the future. Ten students among them two males have gone through six months intensive tailor education, funded by Danida in Thimphu.
“I have learnt everything about tailoring. Before I joined, I knew nothing about designing or tailoring. Now I can draw, design, stitch, cut and sew both Bhutanese and Western clothes,” says 21 year old Ugyen Demma. After finishing class 12 she enrolled Danida’s tailor project.
“I have always dreamed of becoming a tailor or designer, ever since I was little. Now I know that in future, it is possible. When the training finishes, I will either apply for a job as a tailor or start my own business,” she smiles.
Own designs for sale
The tailors began with potholders, pinafores and bags. Every day from 8 am to 4 pm they have been working, getting to know the sewing machines, different techniques and learning to tack. Only six moths after the start in April, the tailors of the future sell their own designs on the textile exhibition.
“We have sold the Queen a jacket. This one,” points Ugyen Demma proud.
Behind the project is tailor Doan Nhi Nam Phuong. Observing a need for tailors in Bhutan able to design and produce western designed clothes professionally, she got the idea to start the project. Together with another two tailors she has been training the students in the course:
“I am very happy about my students. They all work very hard. Before this project no one in Bhutan could make western designed clothes. Now my students can. All the time I have wanted them to become good tailors and as good as me. Now they are even better,” Phuong laughs.
Danida has financed the project with 72.300 Danish Kroner for materials, machines and scholarships for the students. The tailor project is located in the School of Painting and Art “Zoric Chusum” in Thimphu. Here sewing machines go through meters of fabric every day.
Future as independent tailor
The students are encouraged with around 40 Danish Kroner for a good design. That is a way to prepare them for a future as tailors and designers:
“My aim is to train the students to become professional tailors. I want them to become independent and tailor, design ad sell clothes. Look what they have learnt within six months! They already sell their own designs!” Phung explains.
A Japanese official have bought a grey jacket, and his driver has just arrived to pick it up.
“You will get a free bag to day, because it is our first exhibition where we are selling our own designs,” Ugyen says while packing the jacket.
“We have to be service minded. If we get our own business in the future, we need to bee ready. If we promise to do things, we have to finish it, even if we have to stay up all night to do it”.
Six more months of training in marketing, sale, more designing and sewing are ahead before the ten students will show how many of them are going independent.
Danida Mini Projects:
- Danida Mini Projects are funded with a maximum of 75.000 Danish Kroner
- Danida advisors or their spouses can arrange mini projects
- The tailor project ends in April 2006
- The project is a co-operation between the project holder Doan Nhi Nam Phuong, Danida, LOD in Thimphu and the Royal Government of Bhutan’s National Technical Training Authority.