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Dozens of clothing stores around Tsemonling Street, 1.5 kilometers east of Lhasa"s world-famous Potala Palace, were swamped with shoppers before Tibetan New Year, as customers sought customized traditional outfits.
Dechen, 38, always gets new clothes before Tibetan New Year"s Day, which fell on Feb 16, the same day as Spring Festival.
"Custom-made garments definitely fit better," she said.
Her painter husband helps pick out the colors and patterns that suit her best. "We always exceed our budget," she said. "I can"t help buying another shirt or pendant when I go into the store."
Galsang Lhamo, a friend who accompanied Dechen on her shopping trip, tried to order some clothes for the annual festivities, but she was too late. Apart from a long dress, she had to buy a coat, shirt and traditional sompa lhamo shoes off the rack.
"I was really concerned I"d meet someone wearing the same outfit at a family or social gathering during the holiday," she said.
To make the clothing, stores on Tsemonling Street use raw materials shipped in from Shanghai and Jiangsu province, including more than 100 kinds of silk and brocade, and import 50 types of wool from the United States, Italy, Japan and Nepal.
"Colors are based on the customers" desires and then we design patterns in Tibetan styles," said Yeshi Tsogyal, general manager of Tibet Triple Seven Culture Development Co.
The company has a detailed process to produce customized Tibetan clothes. Each product will be checked by managers and sales staff, and even by some regular customers.
"Customers won"t buy our clothes if there"s no innovation in the costume design," Yeshi Tsogyal said.
The company promoted seven new styles for peak season before Tibetan New Year and stopped accepting orders on Feb 5.
"The sewing machine was working overtime until Tibetan New Year"s Eve," he said.
In summer and fall, tourists from home and abroad buy traditional Tibetan clothes, while local customers tend to visit the stores in winter and spring.
Sonam Tsomo, from Nagchu city"s Nyanrong district, spent 20 days in Lhasa with her husband, Karma, to sell yak meat and dairy products in the days running up to Tibetan New Year. The couple heard that stylish Tibetan clothes could be ordered on the street and decided to place an order for their 13-year-old daughter.
"This year she needed to get dressed in red for good luck because she graduated from primary school," Sonam Tsomo said. The parents hope she"ll be admitted to one of the many Tibetan Middle Schools in China after graduation. "But when I entered the shop, I decided to buy a suit for myself, too."
The family spent more than three hours shopping as Sonam Tsomo, enthralled by the new styles, wanted to try various new Tibetan clothes at the store.
Finally she chose a suit of black brocade with long sleeves and gold trim, thick cloth included.
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