The UNESCO World Heritage listed ancient town of Hoi An is without a doubt, the tailoring capital of the world. Tailor shops here outnumber other businesses two to one, so getting an outfit made here is not only part of the experience, but also very easy. With so many options, choosing a tailor may be a bit of a cumbersome task. This guide will put all your troubles to rest and help you make an informed choice.
What can you get tailored?
Most of the tailors that have made a name for themselves are incredibly skilled, so you can get absolutely anything made. Suits, ball gowns, wedding dresses, winter coats, pajamas, heels, boots, hats, of any style, size and fabric – your options are virtually endless. You can replicate a favorite item you previously owned, or one you saw on TV or in a catalog, or simply ask the staff to recommend something for your shape and personality. Most staff are very helpful, patient and are well-versed in English. Share your ideas and don’t be afraid to ask for their input.
The tailoring process
After you have discussed your ideas and come to an agreement on what you want, you will be asked to decide on your fabric of choice. Most shops have these stacked on shelves, lighting up the room with colorful displays. After the fabric is chosen, measurements will be taken and you will be sent on your way. Most good tailor shops will have your garment ready for a first fitting the next day, but if your item is something small, it would most likely be made then and there. For good quality, it’s essential that you give the tailors enough time to stitch your garment, and partake in as many fittings as possible. For the first fitting, the item is purposely made a little loose, so adjustments can be made. Your final item will most likely be finished after a second or third fitting, but keep going until you are completely satisfied!
You can either pick up your final item at the store itself or have it delivered. If your time in Hoi An is limited, some even go so far as to deliver it to another country for free, while others will charge for delivery.
Choosing the right tailor shop
With 200 tailor shops alone in the small Ancient Town, competing with one another, fighting for your attention, a large percentage of these have resorted to unethical methods of trying to capitalize on the influx of tourists to the city. To reel in potential customers, many tailor shops now offer large commissions to hotels, restaurants, tour guides, taxi drivers, and random individuals on the street for turning tourists their way. While personal recommendations are usually a good sign of quality, here you should give it a second thought.
Some tailors also do not care for quality or customer service, and produce shoddy work for a high price. Measurements can be taken incorrectly, the fabric used can be fake, and some staff can be rather rude and disinterested. Many tailors also only just take the measurements themselves (sometimes incorrectly), and then outsource their production to mass garment factories that operate unethically. The piece you think is custom-made just for you, with love and care for detail, then becomes just another mass-produced item you will perhaps find someone else wearing in the street.
In short, you get what you pay for, so you should avoid cheaper prices. Another tip is that you should walk in and compare a few tailor shops on criteria such as price, quality of fabrics, styles they recommend, and their customer service, among many other things. This way you can tell the experienced ones apart. Also check for online reviews and look out for pieces written by travel bloggers about their experiences. The more satisfied customers means you’re good to go!