Vietnam: Tips for the Tailors

Vietnam is renowned for their cheap suits, and ability to replicate loved garments for a fraction of what you bought it for. However, it’s important to be prepared and understanding what you do and don’t want before walking into the Tailor shop.

Here’s some of the lessons i’ve learnt through trial and error, and learning the hard way of the best way to approach getting clothes made.

But if you stick to the following guide, you will leave a very happy customer:

1. Take a sketch, or better yet the actual garment you hope to be copied. The Vietnamese are excellent are replicating dresses, skirts, blouses, shirts, and pants, so if you bring your favourite dress, they will be able to copy it exactly. I got 2 corporate dresses made, with lining in a taylor in Ho Chi Minh* for AU$35 each. They were a perfect fit, and I still wear them today.

2. Remember to negotiate. The first price quoted is definitely up for negotiation, and the more you buy the more power you have to negotiate.

3. Stand by what you want (they will try and tempt you with other suggestions, and upsell, to try to get you to buy more, but stay true to what you originally walked into the shop for, and you will leave happy.

4. Allow enough time. This is a classic mistake, where people underestimate the time of takes to produce a quality garment. At minimum you should give at least 2-3 days for the item to be ready, but remember you will need to go back for fittings in between to make sure it fits lie a glove.

5. Understand the fabric you’re buying, and the way it will look. I found that some of the materials I wanted to use for skirts, they didn’t want to use, as they were not the standard types of fabric they were familiar sewing. I think this results from a combination of different cultural dress and their reluctance to use an unknown fabric, but if you understand materials – stick to your belief and you should get a sound product.

6. Don’t buy from the market.Yes, it will cost about half the price of going to a proper tailor, but cutting costs here means you will be cutting quality in the overall quality of the garment. While many market tailors promise the world and more, when push comes to shove, don’t be upset when the sticking is not overlocked or when the cut isn’t quite right.**

**Don’t get me wrong – I have bought items from the market that were made well, with good quality sticking and good shape. But when I got home and washed the clothes, they shrunk, as the fabric is not pre washed before it is sewn, which means the material will shrink on the first wash.

*Ho Chi Minh Taylor – Phi Phi 183 Lê Thánh Tôn Bến Thành, Hồ Chí Minh


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