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Kenya

Suits you, sir

Thanks to CNN, Kenya National Television screened the wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I was familiar with Ms Markle from her appearance in the television serial “Suits”, about a law firm in New York City.

Strangely enough, the very morning of the wedding, I had been attracted to a street where there were several tailoring shops. I stopped to chat at “Ngai’s Quick Fashionable Tailors & Outfitters”. Hanging on the folding door of the shop, there was a natty faux-Burberry checked jacket, with black lapels and facings, which caught my eye.

There was no front window, just a display cabinet, holding some zinc buckets and white sheeting. On top of the cabinet, a cutter was chalking out the measurements for a jacket on some pinstriped grey woollen cloth.

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The cutter kept working while I asked him questions. He said the jackets were in the “American style”, whatever that meant. There was a row of them hung onto the wall on one side of the shop, with a selection of cloth displayed on the opposite side.

Further back into the shop, his partner sewed the pieces of material into suits using an ancient treadle Singer sewing machine. A lady in the rear of the shop took the money.

The cloth came from Germany. I felt the need to rub it between my fingers and thumb and discovered that there were four layers. The cutter explained that the customer had requested two suits in different materials, each in two layers – right and left sides. As he used sharp, heavy shears to cut around the lapels, the material began to bunch up. I put a hand on the cloth to keep it steady, but he waved it away.

Other shops catered for a more modern style, drainpipe trousers, shorter jackets (“bum freezers”) and narrower lapels. Some of these designs are shown on the billboard for E. Njue’s Tailoring. These images reminded me of the photographs of celebrities sporting fashionable hairstyles stuck onto the walls of barbershops everywhere. Aspirational targets, perhaps. My overseas haircuts never resemble those of David Beckham or Brad Pitt. And you just know that these suits are never going to look like the billboard.

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There are other tailors in town, some specialising in school uniforms and wedding attire.

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At his wedding, HRH Prince Harry wore a frock coat dress uniform of the Blues and Royals Regiment so he would not have needed the services of the Jaflo Clothing Centre in Embu.

And no, I don’t have a clue what “Hemasod” means.

 

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.

3 replies on “Suits you, sir”

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