When I told people I was planning to visit Hoi An in Vietnam, everyone told me to get clothes made.
Whether they’d been there or not personally, everyone seemed to know Hoi An’s reputation for being a place to get beautiful, custom tailored items of clothing made quickly and cheaply.
The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. Getting clothes custom made was never really something I’d given much thought to- I’ve always bought thrifted or off the rack.
Truthfully, I haven’t really owned many especially nice things that I wanted to have tailored. Most of the time, I try a few different dresses or tops on until I find ones that look alright.
So, the premise of having clothes custom created just for me was alluring.
Jumpsuits that fit on the first try?
Sign me up!
Options of what to have made seemed endless, and if I wasn’t continuing backpacking, I probably would have had even more made.
As it were, I ended up having four items made for under £80- a three quarter length linen jumpsuit, a sleeveless cotton jumpsuit, a pair of cotton trousers for wandering Asia, and a beautiful wrap-around dress. For this price, they also repaired a pair of pants for me- true lifesavers!
How did I come to settle on those items?
I thought about things that are hard for me to find that fit well outright. Jumpsuits and dresses certainly fit into that category.
The cotton trousers? Well, I had a pair I’d purchased from Asos to bring on the trip and wore them all.the.time. Unquestionably my most worn item.
And, how about the rest of the process? Once I decided what I wanted, how did I go about getting things made in the week I had in Hoi An?
The streets of Hoi An are flooded with tailors- there’s no shortage of places to pop in to look for inspiration or get a quote.
However, as well known as Hoi An may be for turning around beautiful, affordable tailored items, it’s also known for being a place where it’s easy to get ripped off in this regard.
Clothes with low quality stitches or too quickly made fall apart after a wear or two.
Tailors who hike up prices because they expect you to haggle, and know they’ll make more money in the end even if you talk them down.
Shops with staff who speak little English, which means your item may not come out exactly as you’d envisioned.
With risks acknowledged, there’s really no reason not to have clothing made while you’re visiting Hoi An- unless you’re only there for a day.
That may be too quick of a turnaround. 😉
Generally, the process is easy- you show up at a tailor, tell them what kind of item you want made, select your fabric, get fitted and then they make the magic happen.
Whether you want dresses, suits, pants, swimsuits, or even shoes- the options are truly endless.
Price always depends on what you’re having made and who you go with. My items were very reasonably priced, and I felt no need to haggle. In my opinion, it’s always worth to spend just a bit more than the cheapest options to ensure whatever you have done is something that’s going to last, and that you’re going to be happy with.
3 Things You Need to Know Before Getting Clothes Custom Made in Hoi An
Research Which Vendor You Go With and Reach Out Ahead of Time
Don’t just wander the streets hoping to find someone you feel good about. And, don’t ask your hotel for recommendations. Everyone in the tourism industry has a favourite tailor in Hoi An, and you can bet most receive kickbacks for recommendations they send their way. Just because your hotel or hostel says it’s their favourite doesn’t mean they’re actually any good, or even the right tailor for you.
How did I find my tailor?
I read a few blog posts about getting clothes made, and kept coming across the name, Sewing Bee.
Sewing Bee is a sister-run shop with a booth in the Cloth Market. Both sisters speak English well, are super friendly, and price their items reasonably so there’s no haggling needed.
They’re quick in making items and happy to give opinions on what they’d recommend in fabric, cut or vision.
I’d also seen their name pop up in expat forums as well as a ‘go-to’ place in Hoi An, so I decided to give it a whirl. My first impression was fantastic, and only got better from there.
On my third day in Hoi An, I texted them in WhatsApp (number is on their Facebook business page), and asked if they were open (it was the day after a holiday in Vietnam), as well as what time would be good to come in.
They were quick to reply (always a good sign). In our text exchange, I told them how many items I wanted and when I was leaving so they could tell me if it was an order they couldn’t accommodate before I came in. If the tailor you go with has WhatsApp, I’d recommend doing this ahead of visiting- such a reassurance.
Finding their stall was easy- it’s number 11. Once there, I showed them the photos I had of what I wanted made, then looked at fabrics.
The great part of them being located in the cloth market? If they don’t have anything you like, which likely won’t happen- their selection is extensive, you can walk around the market in search of what you’re looking for.
In total, I visited four times- once for initial session, twice for fittings, and a fourth time to pick up items that had needed another round of adjusting. In all, it took four days. They say they can work faster if you’re on a tighter schedule. Really, depends on what you’re having made.
Bring Pictures of What You Want, Make Sure Details are Clear
I’d found photos of the kind of items I wanted made on Pinterest / the internet ahead of time, and brought those for inspiration.
While looking at hte photos, I talked them through things I liked and things I wanted changed.
Be sure to think about cut, fit, sleeve or pant length, zipper or elastic, etc. We talked at length about how I don’t like things to be too fitted in the arms or legs.
Nothing I had made has buttons or fancy zippers on it, but if you want that kind of thing done- bring photos of exactly what you have in mind or sketch it out.
The more direction you can give, the better. They’ll be able to work faster, and you’re more likely to end up with something you truly love.
Allocate Enough Time for Having Clothes Made
Sure, some places can turn around same day orders.
But, if you’ve having anything that’s a speciality item, like a jumpsuit, dress or suit made, you need to allow a few days for fittings and adjustments. Often, you need two fittings after they take initial measurements.
At the first fitting, your clothes may not be finished- don’t freak out. This is normal, they’re double checking how things look before they finalise.
The second fitting is usually more of the ‘ready to go’ fitting. If you need adjustments done after this, they should be small.
How long you need to allocate fully depends on what you’re having made. This is why reaching out to the vendor or a few vendors you’re vetting ahead of time is so helpful.
They get a sense of what you want and you get a sense of how fast they can work/their workload.
Nearly three months after leaving Vietnam, I’m over the moon about what I had made. I haven’t worn the linen jumpsuit yet- I got it made for business or nicer occasions. But, I practically live in the other things I had done up.
Similarly, I’ve heard in Hanoi, you can get silk pajamas made in 1-2 days, which sounds like the ultimate Vietnam souvenir, and something I’m definitely going to look into next time I’m back in Hanoi.
Have you ever had custom clothes made in Vietnam or elsewhere?