Hoi An is one of the cheapest places in the world to get tailor-made clothes and, if you’re visiting Vietnam, it’s definitely worth stopping by to get a few new pieces for your wardrobe.
I paid between $15 and $25 for a tailored shirt. It’s not dirt cheap, but it’s a lot cheaper than you can expect to pay normally. At TailorStore.co.uk (UK), prices start from £49 while at Modern Tailor (USA), prices start at around $70. Oliver Wicks (USA) and Black Lapel (USA) are both on the higher end, with prices starting at $129 and $109 respectively. These are internet prices, as well. Prices at a bricks and mortar store are typically a lot more expensive.
So, yes, it’s worth getting tailored clothes made in Vietnam. In terms of what you can get, suits and dresses are probably the most popular items. I’ve also seen people buy wedding dresses, leather handbags, and even shoes.
What to buy in Hoi An
- Suits – This is what most people get made in Hoi An, and it’s definitely the place to do it.
- Shirts – I bought several shirts from Miss Forget Me Not, and they’re all still in great condition. My only regret is I wish I’d bought a few short sleeve shirts as well.
- Trousers/ Pants – I had some nice suit/work trousers made, as well as some chinos. The chinos I’ve never really liked, but the suit trousers turned out great. I didn’t see anywhere making jeans, and this is something to do with the tailors not having access to proper jeans material (some places have a fake stretchy version).
- Dresses – It’s not just men that need tailored clothes, ladies do too. Get on Pinterest and go through your favourite celebrity magazines to see which designs you want ripped off.
- Coats – I had a lovely lightweight trench coat tailored to my specifications at Yaly Couture after seeing another on the rack. If I’d been thinking, I would have gotten a winter coat made as well. This was one of the more expensive tailors in Hoi An, but it was definitely worth it.
- Shoes – Believe it or not, you can get shoes custom made at Friendly Shoe Shop. If it works out, you can even order your next pair online.
- Silk items – Quite a few tailors had silk items and, while I didn’t get a pair of pajamas made, I kind of wish I had. Tip: real silk burns and synthetic silk melts. As the tailor to burn a tiny sample to prove you’re dealing with real silk (they should be happy to).
Things you should know
Having had clothes made in Hoi An, I can now share some advice with you.
Go in knowing what you want
Before you hit the streets of Hoi An, get your hands on a few magazines or head to Pinterest or even Google Images. Otherwise, it can be very overwhelming. Most shops will have catalogues that you can browse, but I rarely found anything in these that I wanted. The mannequins in the shop are also worth looking at, as its very easy for the shop to replicate these.
Sales people are moderately pushy
In general, the sales people at these tailors are moderately pushy. Some will shout at your from their shops, while some may even come down the street after you. I never really had anyone grab at me, however, which was often the case in countries like Morocco.
Choosing a tailor is hard
Every tailor is the best (of course!), and everyone is happy to recommend the best tailor (which is usually the one that’s giving them commission). I shopped at quite a few different tailors and was very pleased with the shirts that I had made at Miss Forget Me Not and the trench coat that I had made at Yaly Couture.
It’s worth looking every business up on TripAdvisor before shopping, but make sure that all of the reviews look legit.
Haggle (or at least try to)
Personally, I found it hard to haggle here. Getting 10% off was possible, but it was hard to get much more.
You’re the boss
For whatever reason, I expected the people that I was dealing with to have lots of unique ideas about what they could do or even what materials and colours to pair together. After all, they work in the industry.
That wasn’t the case, however. As the customer, you’ll have to make lots of decisions on things like design, material, and colours and you won’t get many creative opinions. I won’t lie: if you’ve never had anything tailor-made before, this is very hard.
Factor in a few days to get the clothes made
It usually takes around 3-4 days to get the clothes made, and within that time you should expect to go to 2-4 fittings (including the original consultation). You can get the clothes made faster, but it’s not recommended as they never come back perfect the first time.
I’d recommend hitting the shops as soon as your arrive (assuming you’ve done your research and know what you want).
There’s lots to see and do in the area, however, including the Old Town, the Temples of MySon, a trip to nearby Danang, and a trip to Marble Mountains. Since you’ll be popping into town a lot for fittings, take the time to pop into some of Hoi An’s many wonderful restaurants. I can definitely recommend Banh Mi Phuong for Bahn Mis (Bahn Mi Queen was also good, but not quite as much) and Nữ Eatery for vegetarian food.
Chances are when your clothes come back the first time (or even the second time), they won’t be perfect. Be assertive and say exactly what is wrong with them. You’re the customer, after all. If you have a niggling feeling about anything, say it now. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to get alterations made now rather than in the future.
Learn to block out voices
When you go in to try on the clothes, you’ll find that the sales people will tell you how great they look. In fact, it can be very hard to try and think clearly about the clothes while this is happening. Basically, you just have to learn to ignore them while you get your thoughts together.
Consider sending clothing back home
If you’re backpacking around SE Asia, chances are you won’t have a lot of use for the suit and office shirts you just purchased. Rather than have them sitting in your backpack for another few months, consider sending them back home.
You’ll be coming in and out of Hoi An quite a bit, so don’t stay too far out of town. I stayed at Vaia Boutique Hotel, which was located a 10-15 minute walk outside of Hoi An.
- HotelCombined.com allows you to compare multiple booking sites at once (e.g. booking.com and hotels.com) so you can find the best hotel at the best possible price. I usually end up booking through Agoda, as they have a rewards program, but it’s always worth doing the comparison first.
- Skyscanner is one of the best websites for finding cheap flights. They make it easy to compare multiple airlines, and to see when it’s best to fly. (The nearest airport is Da Nang International Airport).
- You will need a visa to enter Vietnam. I got mind processed at the Vietnamese Embassy in Bangkok, which was extremely straight-forward. Some people prefer to use a visa service, especially if they can’t make it to a Vietnamese Embassy. I haven’t personally used one, but the Lonely Planet recommends vietnam-visa.com.