Hoi An’s tailors are a cut above the rest
HOI AN is the tailoring capital of Vietnam. The very name of this city is synonymous with beautiful, handcrafted clothes and not many visitors can resist the lure of getting something made.
The story of Hoi An’s tailoring history began nearly five centuries ago when this small coastal city made a name for itself as one of the best trading ports in Vietnam.
Traders from all over the world, especially Japan and China, would come here to exchange fabrics and other materials.
Over time, these traders began settling here and harnessing their skills as tailors, alongside Vietnamese locals that were already in the made-to-order-garments trade.
Many tailors in Hoi An proudly represent generations of tailors from the same family and many shops have a history predating colonization and war. Some have also branched out to cater for more contemporary shoppers, which a focus on garments such as bespoke swimwear.
There pretty much isn’t anything you can’t get made in Hoi An, from Grinch-green leather shoes to Vera Wang-style wedding dresses.
Know what you want
Walking into a supermarket not knowing what you want can be an overwhelming experience, so imagine how perplexed you’d be having to choose from thousands of materials, colors, and designs.
Be prepared with images of styles and color palettes to show the tailor. It’ll make the process smoother and there are no rules against changing your mind or adding details later.
Don’t ask about the price right away
Instead of thrusting an image of your desired garment in a tailor’s face and querying the price immediately, first inquire about fabrics, feel them and compare them.
Once you’ve chosen what you want, ask how much it’s going to cost. Prices will vary depending on the quality of the fabric and the reputation of the tailor.
There is room to haggle slightly, but remember you’re not in a souvenir market, you’re buying a bespoke piece of clothing from a professional.
Don’t be hasty
If the price doesn’t sound right to you or if you’re getting a shoddy vibe from the tailor, make your apologies and leave, even if they’ve already taken your measurements.
After all, it’s your dream garment and you’re paying for it, so it should be perfect.
Ask their opinion
Be prepared for sharp-tongued tailors telling you your bum is too big for a certain style or your shoulders are too weak for a particular overcoat. They just want to make sure they’re creating the perfect garment for you.
It’ll serve you well to ask your tailor about style, length, color, and cut too. They’re the professional, after all, and will have most likely been making bespoke clothes for years.
Do a burn test
If you’re willing to pay extra for premium materials such as silk or lambs’ wool, ask them to do a burn test.
Premium materials should burn like a strand of your hair would whereas synthetic materials melt like a crisp packet.
Listen out for multiple questions
Questions are good when it comes to tailoring. The more intricate the better as it means the tailor is trying to get this garment spot on for you.
Expect them to ask everything from how many layers you’ll normally wear under your coat, where you want your suit jacket cuffs to stop, the size of the clasp on your swimsuit, to the number of pockets you want on your cargo pants.
If they don’t ask these questions at any stage of the process, apply tip number three and get out of there.
You get what you pay for
It’s never going to be a lot because Hoi An is not only one of the best places in the world to get bespoke clothes made but also one of the cheapest.
Now that you’re armed with seven top tips on navigating Hoi An’s tailors, you’re ready to take on the 200-plus tailors in the ancient city.