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Travel Guide to Custom Clothing and Tailoring in Hoi An (Vietnam)

If you fell in love with custom-made clothes in Hoi An, know that you aren’t alone!

Hoi An is very famous for its tailors. They are everywhere, you can’t miss them! The prices being very affordable, it is difficult to resist. It is also a great experience to have clothes specially designed for you. For JB, it was a first.

The particularity of Hoi An is its express service: a custom-made garment in 24 hours, this allows us to answer the orders of tourists who stay only 2 or 3 days. Usually, in Ha Noi, I have to wait a month, if the dressmaker wants to take care of my case. And a month a week, if ever there are alterations to be made.

In Hoi An, the switchboard is 24 hours. The ultra-express service is 3 hours on the clock. In the case of an ultra express garment, the garment is made by 3-4 people, and assembled by several people at the same time. They even deliver the garment directly to the airport, or by express courier to the next city, or to France.

The process is the same for all tailors :

  1. You explain your project. The tailors of Hoi An are the kings of copy, so you can come with a garment you already own. You can also show a photo of the garment you want. This step is important, the more precise the saleswoman will be in her questions (number of buttons, color of the lining, number of pockets, …) the more likely it is that the final result will be satisfactory.
  2. You choose the fabric and its color.
  3. The tailor takes your measurements. Again, the more questions you are asked, the better (how far you want the sleeve of the shirt, how far you want the Bermuda shorts to go, …)
  4. From all this information, a price will be proposed to you. You can (a little) negotiate it.
  5. You pay a deposit.
  6. 24 / 48 hours later your order is ready, try on your clothes and ask for any necessary alterations. Don’t hesitate, it’s normal and if we do custom-made, it’s to make it perfect.
  7. Once the touch-ups are done (usually a few hours later) you pay the balance.

In one month, we were able to test 4 different suits, with different prices and styles (in order of preference)

  1. Thu Thuy Silk
  2. Surprise Tailor
  3. Ba Ri Tailor
  4. Nhi Trung

I will comment on the services of the above tailors to give you some practical advice at the end of the article before going to the tailor.

Thu thuy silk

It is one of the best known and longest established fashion houses in Hoi An. A poster proudly explains that a princess from I don’t remember which European royalty came to make clothes here. We went there because we have two difficult clothes with a lot of technical details to make. But in the end, JB finds it too expensive and only my dress was made here (75USD, for only cotton), it’s an improved copy of my Indian dress.

  • The +: quality and choice of fabric (two stores full of fabrics). This is important when you have an idea of the fabric to use absolutely. The saleswoman takes her time and listens. Drawing in support to be sure that we understand each other. Very precise requests: which color for the sleeve, which pattern for the bottom of the dress etc. My custom dress is more beautiful than the dress I wanted to copy. 0 retouching to be done.
  • The – : high price, when it’s just cotton. This price is justified by the central location and the size of the store (a lot of fabrics). Some technical sewing mistakes (inside, visible only by the pros)

Photo: on the left, the custom-made dress made by Thu Thuy (I pose with the saleswoman who is also very happy with the result); on the right: the original dress. Sincerely, I think the custom dress is more beautiful than the original one. But I grant you, it’s very expensive, I would have paid a quarter in Hanoi, but I would have waited a month a week ahahah

Surprise tailor

He is the number 1 tailor on TripAdvisor. He doesn’t have as many opinions as the other popular tailors, but he is the only tailor to have NO negative opinions.

Here, we had three shirts made for JB (one cotton ML, two linen MCs 25USD each), one khaki short for JB 35USD (with zippered pockets everywhere); a linen top 25USD and a cotton-silk dress 55USD for me (both are copies of models found on the Internet).

  • The +: the quality of the fabric. The saleswoman takes her time to take the brief and ask specific questions. The classic models are very well executed.
  • The – : average price, the last details aren’t ready in time (buttons, knot…). Some small touch-ups to be done. When it is a question of copying a garment or from a “brief”, the result is less precise. Some technical sewing mistakes (inside, visible only by the pros)

My dress (left) looks a lot like the original (right). The button placket could have been better worked.

Ba Ri Tailor

We went there completely by chance, seeing a lot of tourists inside. The shirt costs 400,000VND (15€) fabric included.

JB asked for a Mao collar, but the Arabic phone made him end up with a normal collar at first, but the collar was repaired during the day, to become a real Mao collar.

  • The +: hyper-communicative, smiling and professional saleswoman. Drawing in support to make sure we understand each other. Competitive price
  • The minus : few choice of fabrics, I wonder if the fabric is really of quality. The fabric sold does not wrinkle, but it “stinks” a little despite the saleswoman’s insistence on the breathability of the fabric. The requests for alterations aren’t all respected: for example the collar was retouched but they forgot to widen the shirt a little (fortunately it does not bother JB too much in the end). Some technical mistakes in the sewing (inside, visible only by the pros)

Nhi Trung Tailor

We went there following the Tripadvisor opinions (there are only 11, of which 10 are very good). My father had two pants made (650,000VND each, 24€) and a short sleeved shirt (450,000VND, 17€). JB had a jacket, pants (80USD) and a long-sleeved shirt made (550,000VND, 20€) with blue collar and cuffs on the inside in anticipation of his brother’s wedding.

  • Advantages: Ultra competitive prices, high quality fabrics. The pants are well made and well cut.
  • The minus : saleswoman talking too much, not listening too much to the customers. Does not advise the customer according to his morphology. Each touch-up requested must be negotiated and argued. The tops (jackets, shirts) aren’t very well made, they are all too tight under the armpits and require major alterations. Some technical sewing mistakes (inside, visible only by the pros). Visually it’s rather pretty but in terms of dimensions, JB’s suit is clearly a failure.

My advice

As you can see, the quality is heterogeneous, the prices vary enormously depending on the couturier and the fabric. It isn’t because a couturier is well rated on Tripadvisor that he will necessarily succeed with all your clothes.

Every designer has his own style. To explain sewing simply: Even for a very simple shirt, there are formulas that allow you to draw a pattern from a customer’s measurements. Formulas can be for example “shoulder width divided by 2 + 2cm”. It is the +2cm that makes the style of the dressmaker, because one will add only 1.5cm, the other 2.5cm etc.. So the dressmaker can be excellent for person A, but be super bad for person B. It’s like ready to wear, it can be very nice on the model, but very ugly on you.

If you’ve never measured before, know that a custom-made garment does not necessarily equal the quality of ready-to-wear. Because the ready-to-wear is the result of an important “R&D”, that is to say the designer imagines a garment, the couturier makes it, but then he has it tested on a real model to see whether or not this fabric goes with the cut, the cut goes with the morphology etc.. Like any garment, it can be very pretty in your imagination, and not be made for you in reality.

For a maximum of satisfaction, it is better :

  1. Come with a garment that you want to copy (i.e. a garment where you are already pretty/beautiful when you wear it), or ask to make a classic garment (like a shirt, shorts, a simple dress…).
  2. You don’t need to order a dozen clothes right away from a couturier. It is better to have a shirt made first (made in 24 hours), and if the result is satisfactory, order other more expensive clothes. We made the mistake of ordering JB’s suit from a tailor we had not tested. It was a failure.
  3. Thus, it is better to go ASAP to the dressmaker as soon as you arrive in Hoi An, to have time to “test” your dressmaker and then order other clothes.
  4. Do not hesitate to ask for touch-ups, they are included in the price.

Most tourists come to make a tailor-made suit, which takes 3 days, including alterations. During this time, you can visit the surroundings of Hoi An, there are a lot of things to do (see our guide here).

The dressmakers can deliver the clothes to the next town you are in, or directly to your home by mail. The “courier” option is more risky, I recommend you to have your clothes delivered to your next hotel. However, do not ask for delivery before you have made the requests for alterations, disillusionment assured otherwise!

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