TheNationalUAE - 3/16/2019 8:06:38 AM - GMT (+2 )
The doors at the back of the truck sweep open and a set of metal steps descends to the floor.
They lead up into a brightly lit, dark-wood-panelled space with mashrabiya patterning picked out in gold on the ceiling. Plush red carpeting lies underfoot. Colourful caps by Code Eight, Caliente and Capster line the walls, alongside custom-made ghutras and egals. Encased within a glass counter at the far end of the space is an assortment of cuffs and collars – pointed, rounded, one button or two – and a sample book brimming with kandura fabric.
“When a customer enters, he feels like he is in a real shop. It doesn’t feel like a small truck; it doesn’t feel tight,” says Majed Al Awadhi, who established the Dar Al Hay tailoring shop in Dubai in 2015 and, last year, supplemented the thriving business with a mobile tailoring unit to offer a truly door-to-door service.
The white truck, which has an illustration of a young Emirati man emblazoned across its side, will come directly to your home or office.
Two members of staff are on hand to take measurements and discuss the intricacies of your chosen kandura design. What is your preferred colour, for a start? In addition to the expected shades of bright white, there are creams and blues and greys and greens.
“White is still the most popular colour – it is what Emiratis wear when they are on duty, or at weddings and other occasions. Colours are a little more casual, and we mostly wear them in the winter. White and cream are more for summer. We normally bring 20 to 40 new colours to the market every year. If this year you were wearing green, for sure next year you’ll want a slightly different shade. You won’t want to order exactly the same kandura,” Al Awadhi explains.
There are also countless options when it comes to customising the stitching that runs along the front of the garment – from delicate swirls to art deco-esque squares and the more traditional triangles. “Other tailors might offer between 10 and 20 different designs when it comes to stitching; at Dar Al Hay, we offer more than 300. In fact, the machines that we have can create more than 385 different designs, and there are only three of these machines in the UAE.”
Maybe other tailors can make a kandura in two-and-a-half or three hours, but with us, we give each tailor a maximum of three kanduras to make per day. Maximum. And you see the difference in the quality and the finishing.
It takes up to five hours for Dar Al Hay’s tailors – a team of skilled professionals who hail from Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh – to create a single kandura in the company’s Sharjah workshop. “Maybe other tailors can make a kandura in two-and-a-half or three hours, but with us, we give each tailor a maximum of three kanduras to make per day. Maximum. And you see the difference in the quality and the finishing,” he says.
Al Awadhi prides himself on the calibre of the fabrics that Dar Al Hay uses and is constantly looking for innovative new materials to bring to the market. To that effect, this month, he will launch kanduras made from a Japanese-developed nano-fabric that is antibacterial, odour-repellent and exclusive to the GCC. He currently sources all his fabrics from Japan, maintaining that they are the best in the world, but also plans to launch the first Italian-made kandura fabric to the market next month.
There are a number of other barely perceptible details that set a Dar Al Hay kandura apart. There are hidden pockets where you can store your keys or mobile phone, to ensure that these bulky essentials don’t ruin the fluid lines of your custom-created kandura. A small label attached to the inside of the garment, meanwhile, features the owner’s initials and the date that the piece was made. If you have a wardrobe full of almost identical white kanduras, this is a handy way of identifying which ones are new and how long, exactly, you’ve had them.
When it comes to pricing, Dar Al Hay sits at the upper end of the industry average. While a well-made kandura generally costs between Dh200 and Dh220, you can expect to pay about Dh225 here, with no extra charge for the door-to-door service.
In addition to the current shop in Dubai’s Etihad Mall, near Mirdif, Al Awadhi is this month opening a new store in the emirate, at Galleria Mall, as well as one in Abu Dhabi. And for added convenience, a Dar Al Hay app is due to launch in the next couple of months, where customers will be able to book an appointment with the mobile unit, or place an order directly online.
And if you find yourself needing a kandura in a hurry, Al Awadhi promises to do anything in his power to help out. “If one of our customers asks for a kandura in one day, it means he needs that kandura. He has a problem and we will do everything we can to help. We will not blackmail our customers by saying they need to pay triple for that service.”
Updated: March 14, 2019 03:42 PM