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Monthly Archive: April 2007
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April 06, 2007

Nice suits
Guest Auhtor: 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]