Hoi An is well known as being one of the best destinations in Vietnam to have personal tailoring done. It’s not until you arrive will you really understand why. Almost every second shop is sporting their wares on manikins out the front, most hotels recommend tailors and women scour the streets for foreigners to try to bring you to their store. The market place is overcrowded with over 400 tailors as well as shoe and bag craftsman, but our tailoring experience in Hoi An was fantastic.
We didn’t go to Hoi An thinking we would have anything made, however when we saw the number of makers, the quality of the products and the price we decided perhaps it would be worth it for a few items in preparation for the European winter. So we made the decision to get some tailoring done and send it on to my friend in Abu Dhabi.
We were totally overwhelmed. We walked the streets looking at several stores, tried on a few items, but didn’t know which shop to choose. There were way too many choices; most of the stores had the exact same patterns, same fabrics and very similar displays.
There were a couple of standouts though, in particular Yaly, one of the most expensive tailors in Hoi An, but you can see why. Their shop is well presented, their designs are lovely and they have a good range of beautiful fabrics. Not to mention the attentive and professional staff to assist you in your quest for personally tailored items. Although not expensive compared to Melbourne prices, a ladies winter coat tailored and cut in wool would cost $AU110 at Yaly, about 50% more than other stores.
A coat each was our top priority and we hadn’t found anything we liked in the shops (except that of Yaly), so we started looking at styles we liked on the Internet. Once armed with our desired designs we headed out in search for our tailor.
We stumbled across Tuong Van who had a similar jacket to what Chris wanted on display out the front. Chris went in, showed his picture to Na and the next thing I knew he was being measured up and choosing fabric. That’s a man shopping for you!
I on the other hand was a little more indecisive. I found a coat in Yaly which I really liked, but wasn’t convinced it was the one. My head was also telling me not to spend too much of our budget as we were travelling (not on a short holiday) and it may not make it back to Australia in the best condition. So after much contemplation, I headed back to Na, showed her a picture of a coat and I too was quickly measured and choosing fabric. I wasn’t happy with the fabric in the store, so Na walked us around to her supplier (a mini Vietnamese version of Spotlight) to choose from a bigger selection. Once I had decided on the navy blue wool, Na asked us both to come back for a fitting the next day and we were on our way.
Next thing on my list was a pair of shoes. It was easier to select a style of shoe I saw in a store rather than bring an image. So, I choose a maker not far from the tailor who had a style I liked for the price I liked. Kim took my measurements by placing each foot on a piece of paper, which was roughly drawn around and measured in three places. Choosing the leather was the hardest decision, so many samples! We were told to come back in the afternoon of the following day and they would be ready. Easy and at a cost of $AU35.
I was getting the hang of this and before you know it, I was choosing leather and lining for a handbag and having my feet measured again for sandals!
The next day we went in to see Na for a coat fitting. I was a little pessimistic about the quality, but to my surprise they were pretty good, with only minor requirements needed. The arms on both our coats needed to be taken up and in along with a change of buttons and a little detail added on Chris’. Na was only too willing and would have it back to us that day. For the cost of $AU45 each, Chris and I left with two woollen coats personally tailored and ready for the colder leg of our journey.
We then headed around the corner to Kim, who had my shoes ready for me to try. They were quite roomy and there were a few areas where the leather wasn’t joined perfectly. Kim happily took the shoes back to be altered and refinished for me to try later that day. A second fitting and the shoes were perfect. I was also impressed with my handbag and sandals especially for the price and time it look to make.
Na arranged for our goods to be collected from our hotel by the post office. We shipped them by sea to Abu Dhabi along with a few other items with the expected arrival time of 4 months.
Tips and advice on tailoring
- Hoi An is a great place to get clothes tailored but not to shop. If you are thinking of getting items made, be prepared with good images to illustrate the design and give yourself a few days to have the clothes made.
- The hotels recommending tailors get a commission when you purchase. Although they offer hotel guests a discount the original price may be more than their competitors to include the commission. Our advice, negotiate the price, before revealing you are guests of the hotel. The women on the street asking you to visit their shop also get a commission and in most cases, they don’t work at the store.
- Don’t over complicate things. The simpler the design, the better the result.
- Choose quality fabric. Some of the smaller, less expensive shops won’t have as good a range as the more exclusive shops such as Yaly. If you are not happy with the fabric displayed in the shop, ask them to take you to their supplier who is usually not far from their store.
- Don’t be afraid to make as many alterations as it takes to get the desired result.
- Don’t pay full price up front. A deposit of 25% is the standard and gives the tailors motivation to ensure you are happy with the result. If they won’t accept these terms, walk out and find someone who will, after all, there’s over 400 tailors to choose from.
So there you have it, our tailoring experience in Hoi An. We hope you got something out of it, and if we’ve missed anything, feel free to leave a comment below.