How a Kelowna tailor is protecting the art against fast fashion | iNFOnews

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January 08, 2024 – 7:30 AM

Fast fashion is killing the art of tailoring, says a Kelowna tailor.

Samuel Galvez runs El Zorro Tailoring and is one of the last master tailors in Kelowna.

“This is a trade that is going down, it’s dying,” Galvez said. “People don’t care anymore, they just wear whatever.”

Fast fashion has taken over the industry; clothes are being produced by mass retailers quickly and cheaply to get thrown out as soon as they are out of style. 

Until about 10 years ago Galvez made his living creating custom suits, but now his business is focused on alterations.

“The Chinese and Indian markets can make suits really cheap so it’s not worth it to make suits, the best thing now is to do alterations,” he said. “Now it’s so cheap, you can buy a really nice suit at Tip Top Tailors’ for $300 and you can’t even buy the fabric here for $300. That’s a big, big difference.”

WorkBC’s industry insights support Galvez’s perspective that Canadian clothing companies are moving offshore, reducing the amount of tailoring jobs. According to the province’s most recent survey there are 140 tailors left in Thompson-Okanagan.

“B.C.’s apparel companies are increasingly moving their clothing production offshore, reducing the number of local jobs available,” WorkBC’s website says.

Galvez comes from a long line of clothing designers and is trying to keep the art of tailoring alive.

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“I went to school to become a master tailor when I was 14. I’m 53 now so I’ve been doing it for a while. My mother was a dressmaker and my grandmother on my father’s side was a tailor,” he said.

Galvez says as time goes on, there are fewer and fewer people left in the trade. He has been trying to find people to pass his knowledge to, but hasn’t seen much interest.

“It’s hard to even find people to teach,” he said. “I was even trying to get into the jails to teach people in prison a new trade before they come out, I was trying with the Indigenous communities and there is no interest in it.”

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He says tailoring is an art that most people don’t have an appreciation for anymore.

“I’m a master tailor. I’m a designer, I used to do fashion shows back in Chile,” he said. “It’s like the clothes talk to me, it’s hard to explain. When I go on the street or in the mall I see people and see what they are wearing and if it fits them right, if it’s the right colour for them. I see a lot of things most people don’t see.”

The industry has changed, but the way well fitting clothes makes people feel is the same.

“I’m a Latino. If we talk about women as soon as they get their clothes fitted and make it look nice on them, like it’s theirs, they feel more sensual, more sexy, they like how they look. For men it’s the same thing. As soon as they see themselves in a nice fitted suit they feel like a million dollars.”

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