Southeast Asia is known for food, massages, beautiful beaches and custom made clothing! Although there are many places you can have custom clothing made, we have had specific experiences in Krabi, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam and Hoi An, Vietnam. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up along the way!
Know what you want
An initial idea, photo, colors or style will help the tailors craft your dream outfit. Some places have books for you to look through if you don't know what you want, but it helps to have an idea beforehand. Regarding the large variety of fabric, price will vary depending on the type of material you choose. Most places can make good recommendations about colors and style, but if you don't like what you see - move on to the next place. If you happen to be traveling with someone who knows about sewing or design, you should take them with you. In Vietnam, we were traveling with a friend who had worked in a suit store and a theater costume designer. Needless to say, we asked lots of questions, inspected the work, and walked away with clothing we were excited about.
What to expect?
You should be able to pick out EVERYTHING during your experience. From outfit style; to material; to buttons; to cuffs; to collars; you should be able to choose it ALL. Detailed measuring. They should be taking LOTS of measurements to ensure a perfect fit. For suits, they will take significantly more measurements than for a dress. We even had one place take a photo and do a body scan in Hoi An, WOW! Great customer service. At least 2 fittings for your garment. A perfect fit to your body type.
How much time do you need?
In our experiences, the shops in Krabi and Hanoi preferred more time - cranking out our suits in about 4 days. Hoi An, which is known for tailoring, cranked out a suit in 3 days, which is SUPER fast. Allow 3-4 days minimum, but 4-6 days is optimal. You will need to be available for several fittings, so be prepared to go in at least 2-3 times during your stay.
What to look for in a quality store?
If you want to make sure you've chosen a good tailor, ask to see something they have worked on. Flip the garment inside out and look carefully at the seams. Have they used a serger? Are the sewing lines even and straight? Has the garment been pressed before sewing? Does it have a lining? What do they do to keep the corners crisp? Make observations about what the staff are wearing. Ask if it was made in their shop. Ask to see photos of things they have made.
What does it cost?
Suits made in Asia are, by far, the best deals we've encountered. The suits we have bought from Thailand and Vietnam range from $200-$350. If you just want a suit jacket and pants, you will pay around $150-$200. The more pieces you add, the more expensive you can expect, but the more deals they will cut you. The suits we purchased came with a suit jacket, pants, two undershirts, 2 ties and a vest for around $350. All items tailored to fit them perfectly. That is a STEAL for a tailored suit and all the fixings! For a dress, it depends on the material and detail. I bought a linen dress for $80 and my friend bought 2 dresses for $95. The more you buy, the better your deals. I should have purchased another dress for $15 more!
Can you negotiate?
In short, yes you can. Keep in mind there is a balance between negotiating and insulting. We went to several places and asked for estimates. After price comparing, we chose a location and negotiated additional items for the price they offered. So instead of one undershirt, we got two for the same price. Keep in mind that if the tailor you go to is heavily advertised and is easy to find online, trip advisor, google maps etc., they will probably charge higher prices. Just because they advertise does not necessarily mean they are the best around.