A new brand of cost-effective readymade shirts, sewn exclusively by prisoners, will compete with leading brands in Kerala market during the coming Onam festival season.

After its popular low-cost chapati-chicken curry combo and three-fold umbrellas, the Poojappura Central Prison here has forayed into garment business by manufacturing readymade cotton shirts under the brand name ‘samraksha’.

The first set of shirts, designed and sewn by jail inmates, is expected to hit the market this Onam, the state’s harvest festival which is two months away, prison officials said.

The existing tailoring unit at the prison had been modified and special training was given to selected inmates in shirt-making. The cost-effective shirts would be a boon for commoners amidst the flood of expensive branded clothes, a top prison official said.

"The objective is to produce cost effective garments for common man. Producing less-expensive but high quality shirts is our top priority," Jail Superintendent Sam Thankayyan told PTI.

The programme would also be a great help for prisoners to get training in garment making and designing which would lend them a helping hand to weave their life after their release, he said.

Around 20 inmates had given training in shirt-making under a jail foreman and the raw material for it would be provided by the weaving unit of the prison.

"We have 10-15 modern machines, including buttonhole machine and cutting and sewing machines at the tailoring unit.

The training has been completed and the production has started on a small scale. We will seek the help of professional designers later if needed," the official said.

It is planned to charge Rs. 260 for each shirt during the first phase, which is lower compared to many popular brands, he said. The official said the shirts are planned to be sold through sales outlets of the prison headquarters here.

The initiative is part of prison authorities’ plans to impart vocational training programmes ranging from driving to hi-tech farming, among inmates eying their rehabilitation after release, the official added.

Established in 1914, the Poojappura Central Jail is one of the three central prisons in the state, others being located at Viyyur and Kannur.

Following the model of the food making unit of Tihar Jail in Delhi, the Kerala Prison Department ventured into food business three years ago by selling chapati and chicken curry at a lower price.

The affordable price and home-made taste had made the jail-chapati and chicken curry an instant hit among people.


Jail authorities hope that the readymade shirts would also gain the same acceptance among common people when it hits the market.