Braving the fabric souk

So if you’ve lived here in Kuwait for more than 15 minutes you’ve probably run across someone who will tell you how easy (“cheap”) it is to have custom tailored clothes made here.  For the most part that’s not an entirely inaccurate statement.  That doesn’t mean that you can just wander around town and stumble upon honest and talented tailors just waiting for you to darken their doors.  It does take a bit or time to find fabric shops that won’t give you ‘oh you’re obviously not from here’ price or try to pass off crappy chinese poly blends as 100% cotton Italian wool.  Then you’ve got to find a tailor that one understands you, two will actually do what you tell him to, and three doesn’t have too much of a local bent or a pimp-tastick bent to his clientele.  Once you’ve done all that you can usually have some really nice things made and compared to full retail they’re pennies on the dollar.

So I’ve got a client meeting coming up and need a new suit and then there’s the Father Daughter Formal next month and the Fog Blue & White Ball in March that are both black tie so its time for a new tux.  In the past I’ve always chosen affordability over quality in the selection of fabric that I’ve used to have my suits made and I’ve paid for that choice over the seemingly short lives of my suits.  Yest – despite all evidence to the contrary  not only do I own pants I also own a few suits.  This time however I want a suite that will stick around a while and if I’m going to have a tux made I’d like it to be pretty decent.  So I’ve enlisted Jennifer as my resident expert on fabric to come with me down to the souk and guide my fabric purchases.  I have to say that her friends and family consulting rates are VERY generous!

She and Anita had to go down that way for one of the balls they’re working on so I drove us all and got to pick out my fabric too.  Now if you’ve never been down there the fabric souk is in an absolutely lovely part of town – the buildings are dilapidated, the parking lots are pitted and over crowded, there is trash everywhere – it’s a pit.  But that’s where it is so that’s where we go.  First stop was to the tailor to figure out how much fabric I need to buy.  I’ve used Fitwell Tailor in the past and he’s done a good job of making decent suits out of cheap fabric so that’s where I went.  Got the totals and then its into the bowels of the souk.  My first stop was the King of Wools where Jennifer found several suit fabrics that she liked.  I picked out two – one for the suit and another for the tux.  Found fabric for the lapel on the tux and a vest.  Their shirt fabric wasn’t up to par so it was back outside.  After wandering around we found another guy with decent shirt fabric and then hit the Indian Heritage Souk for some silk for the bow ties.

After pulling everything together it was back to Fitwell for measurements and to drop off the fabric.  Unfortunately I was under a bit of a time crunch on the suit and needed it in one week.  The tux they had a few extra days on.  I was assured that it would done in time and given a date to come back for my first fitting on.  We were out of there before lunch so all in all a successful morning if you ask me.  Some pix of the area are below.

This is the downtown area. Highway 30 is in blue, 1st Ring Rd is in red, and the fabric souk is marked with the yellow star
Closeup of the block. You can see the round Chamber of Commerce building in the bottom right corner. The fabric is long building running diagonally across the image.
This is one of the nicest shots I could find of the outside of the building and it's cropped to really show off it's 'best side'. In general its a pretty run down looking place.
The inside is a series of hallways like this with shops lining the ground floor and tailors on the floors above.
Stores with their cloth out for sale
This is the tailor I use - they're pretty good and generally responsive
This is one of the two brothers who run the shop - I can never really tell them apart - they're not twins but close...
This is a light day at Fitwell - their walls are lined with probably thousands of suits at any given time
For silk and shiny stuff you have to go the Indian Heritage are of the souk
This was the guy who helped us find silk for a bow tie - it took half a meter of fabric for a bow tie - seems excessive to me.

5 thoughts on “Braving the fabric souk”

  1. I lived in Kuwait for 1 year and used Fitwell to make me some very nice suits and shirts. Do you have the contact information (email address) for Fitwell?

    Thanks

  2. I hate to say it but after looking everywhere I could think of I can’t find their card so no email addy. If I run across it I’ll post it up tho. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Great Post by the way. Very informative. Tons of info. Just one thing though whats the name of the area? Im thinking of visiting this weekend.

  4. First of all – sorry for the extreme tardiness of my response. We’ve had some technical difficulties that I’ve just figured out. Still, my apologies. Next I’m gonna have to go out on a limb here for the actual name of the area. It’s near downtown near Sharq but Bing Maps says it’s Safat Block 5. In this link (http://binged.it/1x3oxTA) it’s on the southwest side of Mubarak Al Kabeer Street. Hope that helps for your next trip.

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