Many people have always desired to have custom clothing created for our bodies. The look, the feel, and most importantly, the appeal of having something tailored just for you is an understated luxury. I remember as a young buck growing up, I would discuss dreams of being wealthy enough to afford custom clothing and traveling the world. Fortunately, I have learned over the years that you don’t have to have a lot of money to do either.

Photographer: Camara Clayton.

Photographer: Camara Clayton

Hoi An (pronounced Hoy Ann) is located on the central coast of Vietnam. The city was a major trading port from the late 16th century to the early 19th and was literally a cultural and economic crossroad that attracted many cultures and businesses. Hoi An’s trading roots are most visible in Old Town, where the narrow streets and well preserved, open shops, have placed them on the UNESCO World Heritage lists.  The breadth of people that have flowed through Hoi An has effected, not only the architecture, but the underlining culture of food, art, and fashion.

Today Hoi An is known for its tailor shops and leather goods. There are over fifteen tailors in Hoi An and during my visit, I rambled through several noticing the various prices and variety of fabric choices. In the end, I chose A Dong Silk. I was impressed by the storefront and their customer service and I felt that their prices were reasonable without compromising on the quality of the fabric, which were either local or imported from Italy. There, suits ranged from $100 to $400 and shirts from $20 to $50. Imagine going to your favorite buffet and being present with all the foods you loved. This is how I felt while choosing fabrics.

A Dong Silk. Photographer: Camara Clayton

Ngoc. Photographer: Camara Clayton.

This is how I felt while choosing fabrics. Ngoc is the name of the young lady who helped me. She was patient, kind, knew what she was doing, and didn’t try to oversell me. She helped me choose the right fabrics based on what I told her my desired results were. Luckily, I had in mind what I wanted. I know that many shoppers don’t know every detail of what they are looking for when shopping for custom clothing and I admit I am one of those people. However, this time I knew exactly what I wanted. If you’re a first timer, then I would recommend uploading or bringing photos to show the tailors what you’d like. The tailors in most of these shops speak English, but pictures can make the process far easier, especially if you’ve actually never really paid attention to which lapels you prefer or the button stance. Keep it simple – bring a picture.

I know that many shoppers don’t know every detail of what they are looking for when shopping for custom clothing and I admit that I am one of those people. However, this time I knew exactly what I wanted. If you’re a first timer, then I would recommend uploading photos or bringing magazine clipping to show the tailors what you’d like. The merchants in most of these shops speak English, but pictures can make the process far easier, especially if you’ve never actually paid attention to which lapels you prefer or the button stance. Keep it simple – bring a picture.

After choosing the suits and shirts I wanted and getting measured from neck to toe, I went back the following morning and had two fittings. The first fitting was to correct broad changes in the cut and view how the suit hangs and moves. While the second fitting was far closer to the finished product and therefore was just to make small adjustments. I’ve had custom clothing made before, but the attention to detail was quite meticulous here. I remember having a blazer made in the Philippines a few years back and I had to go back three times for fittings and the outcome was not a pleasant one. The blazer was not what I had hope and it left me disappointed. So this experience made me hopeful again.

Photographer: Camara Clayton. All rights reserved.

Photographer: Camara Clayton. All rights reserved.

I think that exposure to so many different types of people and bodies, as a result of their history, likely makes the process far easier in Hoi An. The experience of buying custom clothing in Vietnam definitely ranks number one on my list. By the time I stopped glazing over my options I purchased two suits, five shirts, two silk ties and four handkerchiefs which cost me $600. The thing that impressed me the most was that everything was made within 24 hours and was delivered to my hotel. Also, now that my measurements are on file and they’ve completed a successful fitting, I can order more items from them in the future and have them shipped to me here at home.

Fittings. Image provided by the author.

 

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