Bespoke bags on the cheap

Souq Al-Maqasis in Souq Mubarakiya was once a flea market. Today, the souq has modern shops, although every Friday you can still find people selling second-hand items, antique pots and pans, CDs and stone jewelry on the sidewalks. The market is also home to a row of luggage workshops, with bag makers hunched over their sewing machines.

Kuwait Times met Govindor S K, a tailor and sales attendant from Gujarat in India. Only 24, he has already spent nine years in Kuwait as a bag maker. “I came to Kuwait when I was 15, because I needed a job. I wanted to renovate our dilapidated home. Our tailoring shop in India was not making us enough money, so I asked my parents if I could go with my uncle to Kuwait,” he said. “I was very young and scared. I didn’t know what to expect. I knew the work, but didn’t know the people and the language. As a tailor, I only had basic knowledge which I had learned from my mother, but I now I can do anything,” he said.

Govindor began working at a shop with his uncle in Mubarakiya Market. “I thought it would be hard work, but it is an easy job. I started as a helper. Then my uncle told me that I could start making bags, a few months after landing in Kuwait,” he said. Govindor now receives a relatively “good” salary and plans to marry his longtime girlfriend in India. “I like this job. I know I can feed a family with this. I will work hard and save money for my plan of opening a bigger tailoring business with my wife in India.”

In a shop of three workers, average daily sales, according to Govindor, can reach up to KD 100. Orders arrive from customers daily, and most of them are bulk orders. “I make 20 bags daily if we have bulk orders, and if they have a simple design. We accept orders for personalized bags from companies for giveaways. Making travel or luggage bags takes longer, depending on the design,” he said.

The material for the bags mostly comes from China, but also from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Samples of bags of various designs are displayed at the shops and customers can select from them, or they can provide their own personalized designs. Prices vary depending on the materials used.

By Ben Garcia

This article was published on 28/12/2017