Sam Galvez once tailored a wedding dress from scratch in two weeks, after another tailor “totally ruined it.”
His shop, El Zorro Tailoring and Alterations, is filled with sewing tools, saturated coloured thread and dresses wrapped in long plastic bags that are the markings of a dry-cleaned product. No butter chicken or spaghetti allowed.
“I love it,” Galvez said. “I come here to play.”
When Galvez was 14—the age in which Canadians are graduating Grade 8 and armouring up for their high school beat down—he enrolled in a program that specialized in tailoring.
“I went to school for four years to become a master tailor,” explained Galvez, whereas most other tailors learn second-hand.
Being a master tailor, Galvez said his abilities and expertise is much more vast and expansive than that of other tailors.
After school was finished, Galvez moved to Canada for a brief stint before returning to Chile for 16 years. When he returned to Kelowna in 2011, he worked a few jobs before starting his own small business in 2013.
He and his fashionably decorated mannequins used to have a place on Harvey Avenue, but moved downtown to their Ellis Street location just last year. He said business has been great and he has many customers.
“Small business is about getting into the network; it’s about getting people to know me and what a master tailor is,” Galvez said, dressed in a grey T-shirt with “El Zorro” written in golden glitter across the chest; a tape measure dangling around his neck.
Sam is just the latest in the long-line of tri-generational Galvez tailors.
“My mom was a dress maker. My grandma on my father’s side was a tailor too,” he said. “So it runs in the family.”
It could be quad-generational, but it doesn’t look like his 19-year-old son is going to carry on the tradition.
“He doesn’t like it very much,” Galvez said. “But he comes and helps, which is nice.”
When Galvez was younger, his favourite super hero was the man whose name you see plastered on his window: El Zorro.
Somehow, he’s managed to offer alterations for men’s clothing, create wedding gowns and make custom clothing for women, all under a superhero pseudonym.
“This is art.”