When Bra-Making Turns To Art

A 91-year-old Chinese bra-maker is determined to continue making custom-made bras for his customers in China's southwestern city of Chengdu, despite his advanced age and outdated designs.

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Ran Yusheng has made custom-made bras for more than sixty years.

He's now 91 but was just 15 when he first came to Chengdu to work as an apprentice in a tailor shop.

He began making bras and later set up his own bra shop in the city's busy centre.

His made-to measure designs have meant he's never been short of customers:

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 91-YEAR-OLD BRA MAKER, RAN YUSHENG, SAYING:

"I have worked with tens of thousands of women. Many of them came in cars. They are from all walks of life, and even from other provinces. Some say I'm just bragging. But who will come to me if I'm just bragging?"

Ran is determined to keep on working into his old age.

He has always made his bras in a traditional way sewing and seaming different pieces of cotton cloth made to fit his customer's body measurements.

The synthetic materials, under-wires or cup-size fittings that define the modern bra today have no place in his studio.

But, this means his designs are not seen as fashionable enough for today's mass market.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) RAN'S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, 53-YEAR-OLD ZHOU ZIBI, SAYING:

"Only women in their 40s and 50s are willing to wear such bras. Women in their 20s or 30s want to look sexy and beautiful."

Zhou Zibi is his daughter-in-law.

Last year Ran began teaching her the traditional skills of bra making.

She is now studying hard but finds it tougher than she'd expected.

For now, Ran remains the master.

But his successor is determined to carry on the technique her father-in-law has spent almost a lifetime perfecting.

Charlotte Turner, Reuters