iSurprise Lee Zam Kee

Knit and fix: where old clothes get a new life

The busiest times were 1950s & 60s; stockings were the most popular item to get fixed! People even came here to fix stockings instead of buying new ones.
— Mr Lee

Mr Lee runs your typical Hong Kong neighbourhood tailor shop. Whether it's mending a hole, repairing a zipper, or sewing on a button, Mr Lee can do it for you. No job is too big or too small for him. Mr Lee's father opened the shop in 1940 on Eastern Street. "The busiest times were the 1950s & 60s; stockings were the most popular item to get repaired! They were super expensive back then, so people couldn't afford to buy brand new ones," Mr Lee explains. "Sometimes pawn shops would bring clothes that no one claimed, so I could repair and sell them".

The old way

Mr Lee likes to keep things traditional: he still uses an original Singer sewing machine, and his magnifier, glasses, and scissors are all antiques. "I use this bronze ring to hold the fabric, so the needle and thread pass through easily, just like an embroidery frame." He's also incredibly dedicated to keeping the family business running. "I've never left the shop, except when I got a cataract, but I felt better after the operation and will continue knitting and fixing as long as possible."

Repairing memories

Mr Lee remembers a customer who brought a worn coat; she told him, "This is what my mum left me. I want to keep it in good condition, even if I am not wearing it, so I can pass it to the next generation."

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