Tue | Aug 22, 2017

St Thomas tailor cuts cloth for 28 years

Published:Thursday | April 14, 2016 | 4:00 AMShanna Monteith
Michael Campbell speaks about his skill which he acquired some 28 years ago.
Tailor Michael Campbell sews an item in his shop in Morant Bay, St Thomas.
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MORANT BAY, St Thomas:

If you live in St Thomas, then the name Mamble will ring a bell. Born Michael Campbell, he has made his name in the fashion industry as he stands as one of the most sought-after tailors in the parish.

When The Gleaner caught up with Campbell, the 46-year-old said he is in the field that he has always imagined.

"I definitely wanted to be a tailor. A matter of fact, I wanted to be more than that. I wanted to be a designer, but because I didn't have the basic principles, I couldn't move on to a school to further my skills or to get a certificate and things like that," he said, explaining that by 'principles', he means the necessary funding and encouragement for parents.

Campbell, who grew up in Port Morant and now lives in Seaforth, said that he was not formally taught how to sew, but samples of his work cannot be used as evidence.

"I had a friend who was a tailor. I spent a lot of time around him until, one day, it so happened that he had to rush back to his hometown for two weeks. He had some unfinished items working on, so he taught me a little thing before he left. In fact, he barely showed me how to put on a back pocket.

"I didn't even know how to put in zip and things like that. I had to be going to the phone box to call him, asking how to do this and how to do that. The first thing I made was a [pair of] khaki pants.

"When the guy came for it and paid me the $40 at the time, I said to myself 'Yeah! Mi a tailor from now!'," he said, laughing.

MIMICKING PATTERNS

Campbell explained that he learnt how to make the various items by taking apart pieces of clothing and mimicking what he saw.

"One day, I pull out a sweat ]suit and built one for myself to wear to a corner league that was happening in Port Morant, and from that day, everybody wanted one, so they started to order the same thing that they call joggers now. I ended up making about 14 of them, and from deh suh, the thing jump off!" he said.

The tailor of 28 years told The Gleaner that he can now make every item of clothing.

According to him, "Every God Almighty thing mi sew. Only thing I haven't made yet is a brassier, but I've made panties guh straight up. Pants, swimsuit, wedding clothes, dresses, 'impy skimpy' - everything! I can just look at things and make them.

When asked about ambitions to expand his business and take his skill islandwide, Campbell shook his head at the idea.

"Is not that me nuh skill, enuh. St Thomas is the problem. Nothing can't elevate out of here. People in town and all about that I sew for are telling me to come into town.

"I would want to try a different parish [or go to a place] like MoBay, but to leave from St Thomas where I have the population and whole parish locked to go somewhere else, where no one knows me, is going to take me years to build a fan base. I make money here daily, so to go somewhere else to bleach for money, it mek sense I just stay where I am 'cause I'm not really hungry here," he said.

And though he believes that there are some people who are unwilling to support local designers, dressmakers and tailors, coupled with the convenience and rise of mass production in ready-made clothes, Campbell says that his trade cannot die.

"Tailoring can't die for me because I can make anything that comes on the market. Tailor get lick from Bashco come in wid dem ready-made school clothes! It's dying for those who can only make pants and those dressmakers who can only make one and two items, but like me, it will always be alive. A me dem call 'Mamble Fashions' enuh!" he declared.

rural@gleanerjm.com