Tailoring was the hereditary occupation of the Shimpi community. However, with the passage of time and changes in the socio-economic conditions a number of artisans from other communities have taken to this occupation.
With the change in fashions and tastes of the people in wearing apparel and their desire to look graceful and well-dressed, tailoring as an occupation enjoys a place of distinction in the society.
The demand for the services of a village tailor is of seasonal nature. He is found busy in times of festivals and marriages. During the rest of the period his business is slack. His income ranges between Rs. 300 and Rs. 600 per year. He is not so well-off as the tailors in cities and towns.
A village tailor is not so skilled as his counterpart in towns and cities. Tastes and fashions in apparel are attached more importance
in cities and towns than in villages. A tailor in cities has of necessity to equip himself with all modern techniques in stitching if he desires to be prospective. He has also to keep his shop decent, well-furnished and pleasing in appearance.
Many a tailor, in villages as well as in towns, keep cloth for sale in addition to their business of stitching. In 1951, there were 3,846 tailors in Dhulia district of whom 274 were females. The 1961 Census enumerates 3,887 persons engaged in the occupation in the district. The number of female workers shows an increase from 274 to 518.
The tools and equipment comprise sewing-machine, pair of scissors, wooden flat table for cutting cloth, cupboard, chairs, etc. Bigger shops in the district have more than one machine with their shops well decorated, mirrors hanging on the walls, etc. A sewing machine costs from Rs- 275 to Rs. 500, a pair of scissors Rs. 25, wooden flat table Rs. 20, cupboard from Rs. 100 to Rs, 250 and a chair from Rs. 20 to Rs. 30. The expenditure, on these items, how-ever, varies from shop to shop amounting to between Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,200.
Unlike other occupations, accessories required are less expensive and are easily available in local markets. They include thread, needles, buttons, canvas cloth and marking pencils which cost a tailor a little over Rs. 25 per month.
In a small establishment, the tailor himself does all the work single-handed. He secures help from his family members to do odd jobs as and when required. In medium shops labour is hired to stitch clothes, the cutting work being done either by the owner or by a skilled worker. Skilled workers are employed in big establishments. The wages paid to them are generally either on piece-rate basis or equivalent to half the value of the work done, by them during a day. In some of the well-known establishments, a skilled artisan gets preferential pay in addition.
They stitch variety of clothes including pants, shirts, pyjamas, blouse, choli, coat, etc. A few of the tailors are specialists in either ladies' or gents' garments.
Besides the fixed expenditure on tools and equipment, rent, labour charges and expenses on accessories are the other major heads of expenditure. It is the expenditure on these heads that matters most as it directly affects the income of an establishment. In a village or a small town, a tailor often converts part of his residence into a shop and this saves for himself the expenditure on rent. It is in towns like Dhulia, that the element of rent comes in which varies between Rs. 10 and 50 per month depending on the location. Wages too consume a major portion of the total income.
Despite the aforementioned liabilities a tailor is left with a good income. This can be attributed to the changing tastes and fashions of 'the people. The stitching charges of fashionable garments are
comparatively higher than for ordinary clothes. The income of a tailor varies
between Rs. 125 and Rs. 350 per month.