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April 06, 2007

Nice suits
Guest Author: Ali Dadpay

Ali Dadpay_Nice Suits.jpg Reading BBC comments section one can't help noticing how many people have commented on the suites the British crew members were wearing while meeting President Ahmadinejad[1]. Many commented on how fashionable and well tailored these suites were. Iranians have a great taste when it comes to garments and suites.

Iranian tailors and domestic suite makers still have a considerable share of the attires market in Iran. Traditionally Iranian families buy fabrics and have a family tailor make a garment or suite. The history of the tailor profession after the revolution is a classic microeconomics example of demand and supply.

In post Islamic revolution years due to fluctuations in imports and exports and ever present desire for the latest fashions the demand for home-made garments increased when Iranian families start to substitute the imported brands with home-made outfits. Economically, buying fabrics and having a garment made customized was and still is less expensive than buying brand names.

On the other hand inflation reduced households' real income thus forcing many women to seek opportunities to generate income. Making garments for other women is historically a female dominated domain in Iran. The intimacy that it requires disqualifies many men from offering such services in an Islamic society. Thus many women who were seeking employment found an industry where there was little barriers to entry, and the increase in demand for the product provided them with an increase in the value of marginal productivity.

The 1980ís and early 1990ís saw a booming home-based industry. Many relied on the word of mouth to find the right tailor, who always happened to be missing deadlines by a few days to a few weeks. However, liberalizing Iran's markets and opening up free-trade zones of Kish and Qeshm increased the competition and from the mid-1990ís Iran's tailors faced a decline in demand for their services.

Today Iranian tailors are in tough competition with brand names, imported outfits, and travelers' suitcase imports, which include outfits and clothes from Turkey, Europe and Dubai. Still if one wants to look really good in Iran, he or she always calls on a family tailor. The occasion could be a wedding, a birthday or the Iranian new year, Norouz. After all, to have any social status one has to look good in Iran.

Ali Dadpay is an economist living in Dallas, TX. This piece was first published on his personal weblog, Bazar Dispatch, where he writes about Economics, Middle Eastern economies and living in the USA.

[1] According to IRNA News Agency they also were offered with gifts from President and IRGC Navy before leaving Tehran. These included some handcrafts, pistachio, domestic candies, books, CDs and sacks made of Termeh, a classic Iranian textile. Iranians might be rough looking but they do have excellent manners as hosts. [back]
Ron at April 7, 2007 09:42 PM [permalink]:

One must admit, those are handsome suits. Maybe these photos will spark a new trend: Iranian hostage attire!

Ali at April 9, 2007 12:36 AM [permalink]:

I do find your comments, rather offensive. Are 5 Iranians arrested in Arbil HOSTAGES? Are prisoners on Gitmo HOSTAGES? the truth is no matter what Iran does many want to draw a rogue picture of it. I tried to use the opportunity to write about a domestic industry, while your comments is rather judgemental.

AIS at April 9, 2007 07:41 AM [permalink]:

It is always amazing to see the mask fall off so easily from the face of idiots who try so hard to look civilised !
What the heck are you doing in Texas Ali?!

Ron at April 9, 2007 10:51 AM [permalink]:

Relax Ali, I said they were nice suits!

sara at April 9, 2007 07:26 PM [permalink]:

Thanks Ali! I enjoyed reading your piece, quite appriciated your outlook!

Yasaman at April 10, 2007 01:55 AM [permalink]:

After so many years, finally I am reading some article from an Iranian living abroad about something that really matters for ordinary Iranians in Iran and surprizingly is non-political.
I really enjoyed your article. Congratulation for your simple-looking but at the same time revolutionary article!

By the way, those who want to learn about academic life in Iran, without noisy politics-oriented propaganda, may find the following weblog interesting:

Arash Jalali at April 10, 2007 03:58 AM [permalink]:

I think the suits are made by Hakupian, which has become an international brand as far as I know. In your article I think you should have also mentioned China. That's where our local producers are receiving the hardest blow from. As for Turkey, I once heard that some Iranian-made textile products are sent to Turkey to be labeled as Turkish brands and then re-exported to Europe. The funny thing is that some of that stuff ends up back here in the Iranian market as "Turkish made". If this is true, then it seems the problem with the local products are of a marketing and branding nature than that of sheer quality.

ali at April 10, 2007 05:40 PM [permalink]:

You are right I should have mentioned China as well. It is a great competition. Interesting question is that would Iran-Afghanistan economies combined could (or would) challenge Chinese & Indian in Central Asia?

Ben at April 10, 2007 08:49 PM [permalink]:

China isn't a decent competition for Iran (or any other country for that matter) when it comes to quality, most things manufactured there are second grade or worse in relative to production quality of most other places.

Ben at April 10, 2007 08:52 PM [permalink]:

I mean yes they can eat at your profit from the low quality consumers, but not really from the high quality.

Arash Jalali at April 11, 2007 02:17 AM [permalink]:

The scale of the effect of the "chinese phenomenon" depends on the targeted nation, specifically the population ratio of the economical middle-class to the total population. The high inflation rate combined with the fact that a great portion of the population are wage earning employees (close to 5 million employees alone) means that the middle class is getting smaller and the lower class bigger. People with low budgets cannot be very selective about the quality, as long as the product is affordable. That might be the reason why Chinese products are damaging the local industry so much, because with the exception of certain high profile brands like Hakupian, local production's main audience is the middle class. The extremely rich go for Gucci, Versace, Giorgio Armani, and other famous brands.

Arash Jalali at April 11, 2007 02:28 AM [permalink]:

Ali, I think with regards to the question of a combined Iranian-Afghan campaign, one prerequisite for it to happen, is to find a way to persuade the Afghans to stop working on their opium poppy farms. That I am affraid has a lot to do with the political situation there. The warlords need the drug money to keep themselves financially independent from federal fundings and therefore remain power players that can have leverage on Karzai's government, and not vice versa.
The fact that Karzai even had to appease the Afghan Taliban and appeal to their nationalist sentiments just a few days ago is an indication of the kind of leverage that they have on the local government.

Ali at April 11, 2007 03:25 PM [permalink]:

For Arash Jalali: your comment about China is very interesting. Is there any paper or research about this that offers quantitative evidence for your remarks; middle class size and etc. I would love to read it.

jeffuppy at April 12, 2007 06:51 PM [permalink]:

Sorry Ali, I must beg to disagree. Those suits were astonishly ill fitting. Look how they hang tightly on some of the prisoners and loosly on others. The sleeves of some extend past the hands, etc. Very poorly fitted - like maybe they pulled them out of some uniform closet and passed them around randomly. They look like nice clothes, I'm sure - but they don't fit well.

Bahram at April 29, 2007 02:55 AM [permalink]:

Do you remember that comment on British TV that one of the sailors told the reporters that Iranians were measuring them one day and they were so scared because they thought they were measuring them for a coffin!? I guess it's a good looking coffin after all.

Thanks for your article

Arash Rajaeeyan at May 2, 2007 07:10 AM [permalink]:

as far as I know they were made by Hakupian.
I usually buy suits with Hakupian and E-CUT brand.
they are both very good specially Hakupian.
I had four Italian and German suits with well known brands and my Hakupian suits are much better than all of them.
also Hakupian is using different material and you should be careful when choosing the suits not buy those made with chines material.

maziar at May 10, 2007 12:23 AM [permalink]:

You must be joking. Those look like flashy suits that pimps wear! Then agin pimping for the mollas is how the rich make their money in the Mollas Republic...

Sampanna Shastry at May 29, 2007 06:44 AM [permalink]:

Ya Its really nice to read the article,

I wanna know what additional features that we can add toTailoring Shopee to attract more customers as compaired to Ready Made garments.

In short,How to attract custmers to TAILORED GARMENTS as compared to Ready Made Garments?


azin at July 8, 2007 11:41 PM [permalink]:

can someone pleas give me the address of the website, i couldnt find the hakupian's website. thank you

A Reader at September 12, 2007 07:23 PM [permalink]:

Had not visited this site for a along time. AIS (Apparently Iranian Student) still insults people who do not agree with his fanatic ideas. The amount of time and energy he (she?) spends for this is amazing! Let the discussions be more free man!