LEATHER BAGS FROM DHARAVI
I have two recommendations on this post. One is Famous Sale Leather Boutique where I first placed an order for custom-made purses in Dharavi, Mumbai. The other shop is Leather Field also located in Dharavi. These two shops stand right next to each other. Famous Sale Leather Boutique is less expensive to have order made leather items than Leather Field. On the other hand, the quality of workmanship at Leather Field seemed better.
This post is about order made bags which I experienced with Famous Sale Leather Boutique. If you are interested in Leather Field, you can click here to jump to the post I wrote about Leather Field.
FINDING A RIGHT SHOP
One day I passed by a street in Dharavi called Sion-Bandra Link Road where I saw a number of leather shops lined up one after another. I wondered how people found a shop to go to. As an expat it is a bit intimidating to go to Sion-Bandra Link Road.
One expat friend of mine told me that she had her leather bag copied in Dharavi. Unfortunately, she did not have a good experience. Nevertheless, I asked her if she could take me to the shop as I needed to start from somewhere. So, off we went. Three girl friends and I arrived at the leather shop where my friend used. Sadly the shop keeper at the same store was not interested in making one order-made purse just for me. He added that swatches were not available, either.
As determined as I was, I dragged my friends around to probably 10 shops on the same street. One by one I showed my original bag which I would like to have a copy made of and asked for swatches and prices. Almost all of them told me it would cost me 4,000 Rupees (about USD 80) to copy a simple shopping bag type of purse. It felt too much. I quickly learned that shops in Dharavi were not interested in making or copying one or two bags.
Finally I came to Famous Sales Leather Boutique. This shop was the only place on this day who came down to 3,000 Rupees for one custom-made bag. I found it still expensive, but I decided to make a bag because we all were tired from walking around. I also felt that I needed to make a decision. He was nice enough and spoke English to communicate with us. My girl friend and I placed an order for one leather bag each. Mine is in black and hers was in navy blue, whose color turned out very pretty.
Both of my black and grey bags in this post are made with sheep skin. It was most economical. I love how soft the sheep skin feels although it looks slightly flimsy. I have been using the black leather bag in this post for a couple of months and so far they have held up well. The handle got thinner because I put a lot of stuff in my purse.
QUALITY OF WORK BY FAMOUS SALE LEATHER BOUTIQUE
My friend told me that part of the seams came off on her navy blue handbag. Later I made more bags with friends and another friend of mine told me that the zipper on a pocket inside her bag broke. It was unfortunate that the quality was not as good as I wanted it to be. When you go pick up your orders, you might want to check on those details.
BULK ORDER & PROCESS
I negotiated with Shamim, the guy on the right in the photo below, who spoke decent English. He agreed to make 5 leather bags with the cost of 2,500 Rupees each. For 10 bags of the same design, the price would go down to 2,000 Rupees each. Since I wanted the discount, I decided to see if I could get any interests. Soon I found 6 friends who wanted to order with me, went back with a few friends to Dharavi, and ordered 10 bags for the second round. After several phone calls, I went back to the shop by myself for an order pick-up. I emailed and called my friends to arrange pick-up and drop-off. My friends were happy to have them, which made me very happy. At the same time I realized that it was a lot on my part to do the labor.
1. Go to Sion-Bandra Link Road in Dharavi with friends. I never had any bad experience, but you would feel better going there with friends. If you are a woman, you’re going to stand out. If you are a foreign woman, you are going to stand out even more.
2. If you would like to make a copy of a purse, the best way to do it is to bring an original purse. Please note that the shop will keep your bag to copy.
3. I would not recommend bringing a copy of a bag that you can’t afford to lose.
4. My friend’s shop undid her purse which was expensive and could not put it back properly. The shop did not call her in advance to ask if it was okay to do that. If you leave a bag, ask the shop keeper about it.
5. Sheep skin is soft and thin. The great thing about sheep skin is that it’s very light. Buffalo skin is thicker and has more expensive feel, but the price is more. For most bags, buffalo skin is recommended.
6. If you order a bulk, you’ll get a better price.
7. If you are local and speak Hindi, you might get a better deal than I did. If you have a local friend, I’d go with her.
8. Most of the shops open at 11:00 a.m.
9. It seems that most of the shop keepers are Muslim, so I wonder if some of the shops are closed on Fridays. I would call to ask if shops are open prior to going.
10. The traffic in Dharavi can get really bad. Reaching there at 11:00 would be smooth, but if you leave Dharavi around noon, you will be caught in a lunch traffic. One time I went there around 1:00 p.m. and there was hardly any traffic and a couple of hours later on the same day, my friend went and she was caught in a heavy traffic. So, this is to say that be prepared to sit in traffic.
☆ RECOMMENDATIONS ☆
This is my personal recommendation for those of you who are on a look for a leather shop: Leather Field. It is located next to Famous Sale Leather Boutique on Sion Bandra Link Road. Leather Field charged more for an order of one bag than Famous Sale Leather Boutique. However, I was able to get a discount on a bulk order. I liked the end quality by Leather Field and recommend the shop with no hesitation. Please visit my newer blog post Leather Field ☆ Leather Shop In Dharavi Mumbai for more information. Thank you!
FAMOUS SALE LEATHER BOUTIQUE
Famous Sale Leather Boutique in Dharavi, Mumbai is where I had copies of a shopping bag type of leather purses made for the first time in Mumbai. Do I recommend Famous Sale? Yes. It was as good as I got. Do I think there are better or cheaper shops? Probably. However, you might have to speak Marathi or Hindi fluently. If you are interested in trying, I must say that it would be more work for you than you think. However, it is nice to make a copy of your favorite purse!
FAMOUS SALE LEATHER BOUTIQUE
SHOP No. 5, SION-BANDRA LINK ROAD
DHARAVI, MUMBAI 400 017
I found an interesting article about Dharavi and its leather shops. It’s called “The Slums of Dharavi: A Handbag Haven” under the section of “Best Kept Secrets” on The Genteel. Indeed, Dharavi is a best kept secret of Mumbai.