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‘Umbrella maker, umbrella maker, mend my umbrella‘

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

In this day and age, sadly companies specializing in umbrella repairs are few and far between. We seem to be living in the consumerism obsessed world of disposable goods, where most people prefer simply chucking the old one and buying a new umbrella when the old one breaks.

If you are in the mood to try your hand at repairing any tears, holes or rips in an umbrella canopy by yourself, you can simply sew a patch of new fabric on the hole. Alternatively if the tear does not require any additional material, simply stitch the rip to prevent any further damage. However if you fail to do so or if you are rubbish at handiwork , you might like to read on.

We are well aware that it is close to impossible to find a real umbrella repairperson nowadays, in this slowly disappearing art of repair.

The last person in this somewhat rough at the edges city to know how to mend umbrellas in this day and age. She goes on in her narrative that she mastered the craft of umbrella repairing from her mother and the shop was passed on to her from her mother as well as it normally does from ‘ father to son’ ooooooops ‘ from mother to daughter’ in this particular case.

Tatjana Zivkovic tells her insightful life story as follows : ‘It wasn’t a matter of whether I would like to do it or not, I never thought I would be doing only this job but the events were such and life sort of led me to this line of work.

The first autumn rains and gloomy weather seem to be a stark reminder for people of the spell of bad weather to come and the elements that go with it so that we go and buy a new one or alternatively have our umbrellas mended. The last living guardian of this old artisan craft in Belgrade seems to be a lady by the name Tatjana Zivkovic, whose shop is as old as 50 years.

There used to be three registered shops in Belgrade: in Resavska Street , in Zmaj Jovina Street and this one in Visnjiceva Street. Ljiljana Boskovic set up her shop way back in 1970 and passed on her skills to her daughter Tatjana too. That is how Tatjana ‘set her sails’ into the umbrella making waters.

In this tiny little shop umbrellas of different shapes, patterns, qualities and sizes abound. Incidentally there is one there which happens to be from Italy which is older than the shop itself! Tatjana goes on to explain that there are only two types of umbrellas ; manual and automatic. Things used to be different way back. It was far easier to get the spare parts to fix the broken umbrellas at the time , which apparently used to last for decades in those days. Tatjana’s mother used to make umbrellas as well and at times people would ask her to have their umbrellas upholstered i.e. change the fabric parts. This service is comparatively cheaper now but you cannot easily purchase the covering/upholstery for the mere fact that it is only sold in bulk and not in smaller amounts.

‘Since early childhood I used to spend a lot of time in the shop. I kept a close eye on how things were made or repaired. Now it is merely a matter of one’s routine and skills.‘ Tatjana tells us with a streak of nostalgia.

‘Wind brings the customers into the shop’. People of all age come to the shop to have their umbrellas mended. A bad spell of weather is a sure sign for many to drop by this quirky little shop. The repair work costs from 100 dinars for smaller repairs and more for more complicated time consuming tasks which will heavily depend on the type of an umbrella at hand, the damage done and the availability of the spare parts.

‘Sometimes there is not a single customer the whole day but if happens to be windy on one particular day, it is a sure sign that we will be rushed off our feet the next day’

Often do we have elderly people, nostalgic of times bygone, dropping by so that they can have their umbrellas mended or even younger people who seem to have bumped across their grandparents’ umbrellas in their attics, which they want mended to carry them again wanting some retro chic in their wardrobe. We sometimes tend to have even umbrellas as old as 10, 20 or 50 years of age’ Tatjana goes on to say.

So if you fancy ‘reining the rain’ or if you would like to umbrellify your wardrobe and look fashion conscious when everyone else doesn’t , with either vintage pieces or classic umbrellas or you happen to have a vintage parasol somewhere cossetted away in the depths of your attic , grab it and restore the glitz and glamour of yesteryear by taking it to this quirky little shop in the heart of Belgrade.

adapted and submitted by Natasha from Angloland

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