Two months ago, when I was looking for a tailor who could work on my school uniform, I did not find any when, decades ago according to the locals, there used to be many tailoring shops operating in this adopted town of mine here in Leyte. They are nowhere to be found now since the advent and proliferation of used clothes for sale, or okay-okay in vernacular.
As one who has witnessed firsthand the impact of the proliferation of used clothing for sale on the tailoring business, I can’t help but reflect on the challenges and shifts in the industry. Gone are the days when people would invest in quality garments and turn to tailors and seamstresses for alterations or repairs. Instead, the rise of fast fashion and the popularity of thrift stores and online marketplaces have changed consumer behaviors, leaving traditional seamstresses struggling to compete.

The allure of cheap, used clothing has led to a decline in demand for custom tailoring and garment repairs. Consumers are more inclined to discard garments at the slightest sign of wear or dissatisfaction, opting to replace them with these items rather than investing in repairs or alterations. This disposable mindset not only contributes to environmental degradation but also undermines the craftsmanship and expertise of seamstresses who take pride in their work.

Furthermore, the accessibility and convenience of online shopping have made it easier for consumers to find affordable alternatives to hiring a seamstress. With a few clicks, they can browse through a vast array of pre-owned clothing options, often at a fraction of the cost of custom-made or tailored garments. This shift in consumer behavior has created a competitive landscape for traditional seamstresses, making it increasingly challenging to attract and retain clientele.

The stigma associated with second-hand clothing has diminished significantly in recent years, thanks in part to the growing popularity of vintage fashion and sustainable shopping movements. Many consumers now view shopping for used clothing as a way to express individuality, reduce their environmental footprint, and support ethical consumption practices. While this shift is commendable from a sustainability standpoint, it poses a significant challenge to seamstresses who rely on the sale of new garments and alterations for their livelihood.

As a seamstress, one has had to adapt to these changing market dynamics by diversifying services and embracing new technologies. Instead of solely focusing on garment construction and alterations, one may now offer classes and workshops to teach basic sewing skills and promote DIY repairs. By empowering clients to mend and modify their clothing themselves, one can instill a greater appreciation for craftsmanship and encourage more sustainable consumption habits.

Tailors and seamstresses can also leverage social media and online platforms to showcase their work and reach a broader audience. Through engaging content and personalized interactions, they can differentiate their services from mass-produced alternatives and highlight the value of investing in quality craftsmanship. While the digital landscape presents its own set of challenges, it also offers seamstresses the opportunity to connect with clients on a more personal level and build lasting relationships.

Despite the challenges posed by the proliferation of used clothing for sale, one can remain optimistic about the future of the seamstress business. Seamstresses can continue to thrive in an ever-evolving industry. While the road ahead may be uncertain, one can be confident that the passion and dedication of seamstresses will endure, ensuring that the art of tailoring and garment repair remains an essential part of our cultural heritage.