Tailor shops are a thriving pocket of enterprise in Pyongyang

May 24, 2018

No ordinary fashion statement

WALK down the streets of Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, and at first sight the passers-by look rather uniform. The women are in tidy skirt suits and medium-high heels. The men sport variations on the theme of the jacket and wide trousers preferred by Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader. Government-mandated lapel pins with portraits of one or both of Mr Kim’s predecessors continue to be ubiquitous. But look closer and a wealth of individual variations can be seen, particularly among the women: some bright-coloured lace stitched onto a jacket here, a daringly cut skirt in a sparkling satin material there.

Although fashion from China and even from—Kim forbid—South Korea is increasingly making its way to the markets of Pyongyang, many of these flourishes are the work of the city’s own tailors. They may be only a small subset of North Korea’s textile industry—which accounted for around 30% of exports before being hit by sanctions...Continue reading


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