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Suq tailor reaches for the stars.

A MEMBER of one of the world's best-selling bands of all time gets his suits made in the Manama suq.

Jermaine Jackson, brother of late singer Michael and fellow member of the Jackson Five, has been a loyal customer of Babu Choice Boutique since 2004.

The unassuming tailor's shop hidden inside the bustling heart of Bahrain's capital looks like any other at first glance.

However, customers who enter are greeted by a large photo of Jermaine Jackson visiting the shop, which hangs proudly next to a textile display.

The shop is located opposite Aradous Hotel in a section of the suq densely populated by tailors.

Its owner, who is known simply as Babu, said he had made almost 100 suits for his celebrity customer over the years.

"Jermaine is our regular customer and always tells me that no-one makes suits better than Babu," he told the GDN.

"I have stitched more than 80 suits for Jermaine so far and he always comes with some unique, exclusive design patterns that are often difficult to make, but I manage to get the work done.

"The first time he came for a customised suit trial and loved it - and the next day he made a 40-suit order."

The tailor of more than three decades remains modest despite his famous clientele.

However, he revealed the most recent order from Jermaine Jackson, for five customised jackets, was placed just last month.

One of them, which Babu was prepared to show to the GDN, features intricate gold embroidery.

However, he declined to share more details of the singer's latest purchases - preferring instead to keep his client's wardrobe secrets stitched tightly up his sleeve.

An account ledger maintained by the shop does contain details of Jermaine Jackson's purchase history, revealing the first order in 2004 cost him BD5,300.

He was so impressed that he recommended Babu Choice Boutique to his late brother Michael, who moved to Bahrain temporarily in 2005 after being found not guilty of high-profile child abuse charges.

"I made two customised suits, including a black jacket, for Michael Jackson," revealed Babu, producing a photograph depicting a sample of the jacket.

"I still have Michael's measurements and drawings in this book and have made customised orders for him.

"Michael never visited the shop, but Jermaine used to get his measurements."

Babu revealed he had no idea just how famous his clients were at first, but said feedback he received from a man dubbed the King of Pop was positive.

"I was told that he (Michael Jackson) loved my jackets," he said.

"Especially as these were exclusive designs for stage performances."

Jermaine and Michael Jackson were two of five brothers who formed the Jackson Five in 1964, although the former separated from his siblings in 1975 and the latter split off to pursue a successful solo career in 1984.

Jermaine Jackson has been a regular visitor to Bahrain for years, which is why Michael moved here in 2005 following his acquittal.


He spent around 11 months here and in 2006 it was announced he would work on his first album in five years with the Bahrain-based Two Seas label.

However, the relationship soured and in 2008 the label sued Michael Jackson in the UK for reneging on an agreement to record a new album and write an autobiography.

The case was filed in Britain's High Court, but lawyers later said the dispute was settled amicably.

Michael Jackson moved to London after leaving Bahrain, before returning to the US where he died on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of prescription painkillers.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Sep 11, 2019
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