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A Stitch In Time

By Li Wenfang in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-07 08:41

A Stitch In Time

Ma Liqing works at her tailor shop in Baohua Lu in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, alongside her daughter, He Huizhen. LIANG FENGXIN/CHINA DAILY

City's last remaining bricks-and-mortar clothes repair shop struggles on

Clothes repair shops are a rare sight in Guangzhou these days.

The advent of fast fashion and e-commerce have changed buyers' habits in the capital of Guangdong province, with many now preferring to buy new clothes rather than having their old garments mended.

Ma Liqing's place, in Baohua Lu, is the last of its kind in the city - a shop that carries out repairs by hand. The 87-year-old shares 12 square meters of retail space with her daughter, who sells underwear.

Business may be slower than it once was, but seven decades of trade have earned Ma some loyal customers.

"After all these years, we have many old patrons. They come from other countries, from Shenzhen and Zhuhai," she said, as she sat in her sparsely decorated store, mending a nylon dress adorned with traditional Chinese patterns.

"We used to have more orders than we could finish, but business has decreased markedly in the past few years. People only bring expensive clothes now."

As a teenager, Ma would make money by knitting for some of the stores along Baohua Lu. That was before she met her husband, whose clothes repair shop specialized in mending qipao (a traditional Chinese dress), Western-style suits, cashmere jackets and stockings, among other clothes and accessories.

In 1958, the couple's store was merged with eight others and moved to its present address as part of a reorganization of the city's commercial sector.

Three decades later, as China was embracing reform and opening-up, clothes repair enjoyed something of a boom time.

"Dacron shirts, which appeared in the 1970s, were expensive then. Some customers brought us their Dacron shirts that they had worn for over 10 years to get repaired," Ma said.

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