Custom clothiers in Gornji Milanovac

Nemanja Rašić (1909-1970) was a famous prewar custom clothier, who was highly appreciated in terms of garment decorating. Older citizens of Gornji Milanovac say that there was no one like him in this job. He learned his trade in Lazarevac. He started a joint venture together with Čedomir Krsmanović and Dragiša Milojević. The store was located in 29 Kralja Aleksandra Street. Their shop had the biggest number of employees as well as the production capacity. Later on, after the war, Nemanja separated himself and started his own business in the garden of a house located in Miloša Velikog Street, opposite the Grammar school. He made custom clothes – short homespun peasant coats, sleeveless embroidered jackets, long embroidered wide-sleeved jackets, sleeveless embroidered coats, traditional trousers with narrow legs and the then popular trousers known as ‘španjolice’. He received orders from all over Serbia. He had to work round the clock for a month in order to make one long embroidered wide-sleeved jacket. He was like all the craftsmen of the time; everything was handmade. He used the so-called ‘heavy’ machine only for rough materials. He used a box iron, which would be heated up first and then a person would stand on it so that the braids would be pressed properly. Only flannel lining was used so that the long embroidered wide-sleeved jacket could be firm. Yarns of silk braids (thin, thick) were ordered from Prizren, and a stout peasant cloth, which had a specific blue colour, from Switzerland. He kept this shop and dealt only with it until the end of his life.

During the conference of the Non-aligned movement in Belgrade in 1961, Radovan Grković – who was a secretary of the Executive Council of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia at that time – had a long embroidered wide-sleeved jacket made by Nemanja Rašić, which would be given as a present to Naser. A limousine came from Belgrade for that long embroidered wide-sleeved jacket. That was the biggest long embroidered wide-sleeved jacket that Nemanja had made until the last one, which he made for his son-in-law right before he passed away.

An autobiography left by Božidar Živković – another famous custom clothier from Milanovac – testifies about the way this trade was learned as well as the way one became a master of his own trade. He was from Prislonica and he learned the trade with master Dušan Ćuslović in Konjevići near Čačak. He spent three years learning the trade as an apprentice. His mother gave the master 200 kg of corn every year so that his master would provide him with a place to live as well as food during the apprenticeship period. After three years of apprenticeship, Božidar became a journeyman, for which position he got a place to live, food and 1,500 dinars a month. Following his position of a journeyman with Dušan Ćuslović, he went to Rade Milunović. After a year spent with this master, Božidar decided to move to Gornji Milanovac and join the famous custom clothier of the time – Radovan Jovanović Trepčanac. His store was in Rudnička Street near the church. The key moment that led to Božidar’s stay at Radovan Trepčanac occurred while they were arranging his trial period. A customer who was carrying a roll of peasant cloth entered the store at that precise moment and demanded a suit with different decorative seams to be made. No one at Trepčanac made those kinds of suits. Since Božidar had already learned that with his master Ćuslović, he accepted the job. Both the master and the customer were so pleased that Božidar became an employee of Radovan Jovanović Trepčanac. Trepčanac passed away in the fall of 1935 and his wife Borka inherited the store. Since Borka finished vocational school, the law stated that she had right to manage the store for only a year. After that time, she handed over the store to Božidar Živković, who started a joint venture with his colleague Radojko Jovičić. Since a special diploma of finished trade school was needed for running a store, and Božidar was already a certified master craftsman of his kind, the final exam was approved to him. The Committee board consisted of the president of the court, Grammar school Maths teacher, as well as another famous custom clothier from Gornji Milanovac – Stevan Zarić. Up until the beginning of the war, Božidar and Radojko worked as partners in Radovan Trepčanac’s store. When the whole town was burned down to the ground, their store was among the destroyed ones. After the war, Božidar bought the ruined house from Borka and returned its former design. During the repairs, he continued doing his job in a garden facility. Soon, a custom clothier-tailor cooperative was founded in the town. As it ran its business very successfully from the very moment it was founded, numerous private master craftsmen joined it. Božidar Živković himself was among them and he remained its member until his retirement.