Boom or bust, veteran Chinese bra maker still holding up

Wed Apr 8, 2009 10:33pm EDT
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By Royston Chan

CHENGDU, China (Reuters) - A 91-year-old Chinese tailor is determined to continue making customized bras for his clients despite his advanced age and outdated designs.

"My sons and my daughter-in-law all tell me to stop working," said Ran Yusheng at his stall in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

"But my customers say if I stop, where will they be able to buy such bras? They wouldn't buy those bras from other stores."

Ran and his wife ran a busy bra shop in the heart of the city's commercial capital in the 1940s, but today all that remains of his business is a small balcony outside his apartment.

Bags of cotton cloth, two pairs of scissors and a sewing machine line the small workspace.

Born in 1918 in Suining in Sichuan province, Ran was sent to the provincial capital Chengdu by his father at the age of 15, where he started as an apprentice to a tailor.

In the 1940's, he was sent to make brassieres for a department store in the bustling commercial district of the city, where he started his specialization.

When the department store closed, Ran opened his own shop in bustling Chunxi street. Although he frequently moved premises, the customers always followed.   Continued...