Sunday, June 1, 2008

Tailor Made

One thing that Vietnam is renown for is getting tailor made clothing for cheap. Actually, Hoi An is specifically known for this but since we only spent an hour there, I didn’t get a chance to do this.

I was still unsure about the tailors’ skills here so I asked my sister to send me our favourite pair of pants. (Side note: translating terms like “pair of pants” is very entertaining for Vietnamese people since only English refers to pants as a “pair”. I learned my lesson the hard way!) I thought asking the tailor to make an exact copy of an existing pair of pants would guarantee a good product.

These pants were purchased five years ago when my sister was a salesgirl at Teenflo where she got an employee discount (and where she spent all of her paycheques!). I have the exact pants in black and brown, while I think my sister has them in three colours. Both of our black pants are worn out because we’ve worn them so much!

My mother also sent material because she didn’t think I could find nice material in Vietnam (she also sent zippers because she was worried about zipper quality here!). This is actually good advice, since the material is usually the costlier part of getting clothes sewn. The pants cost 140,000 dong (about 9 USD) to get sewn, but would have cost 500,000 dong (about 32 USD) if I got the material at the store. Still a good price though! It took 10 days, which is actually a long time, but I was in no rush; I don’t wear pants these days.

I think the pants came out very well, especially considering the cheap price! They’re not perfect. For example, you can see where the button is sewn on the tab; I don’t know why they didn’t hide that. However, it’s good enough for me to want to shop for material and get at least another pair sewn before I leave! The tailor was accommodating too when I asked to shorten the pockets – they were really long.

These are my sister's and my favourite pants after which we’ve modeled our new pants.

Pants made for my sister with fake pockets in the back. No comments on the lack of posterior please...

And never mind my crumpled shirt - I don't have an iron. Notice on the front tab, the sewing line for the button on the underside can be seen.

These are my newly sewn pants with real pockets.

I now have confidence enough in the tailors’ skills to get something made from a picture. So I’ll be looking for ideas and material this week. Maybe a dress? Maybe a shirt? Unfortunately, I’m not very creative when it comes to clothes. I need to see the finished product and try it, so we’ll see how it goes… I’ll post pictures if I get anything else done!

On the topic of clothes, this Marc Jacobs store opened nearby. If I could afford anything here, I would still get clothes tailor made!


Wandering Chopsticks said...

When I was in VN in '94, I got a bunch of pants made. Only $2 a pair for the labor. I guess inflation now huh?

BTW, I forgot where exactly, but I think the border between district 1 and 3 on Nguyen Dinh Chieu, you can get American clothes for cheap. Not knock-offs but the real deal. Surplus factory stuff from Banana Republic, Gap, American Eagle. Basically, any company that has factories in VN or Cambodia. I bought a bunch of cotton slacks from Express for $8. They'll shorten or lengthen for free too. Well, the particular store I bought from. I don't remember the exact address though. :(

Miss.Adventure said...

OMG! I've been asking people if there is such a thing. As The Gastronomer pointed out, the North Face sold everywhere is supposedly real. I'll have to go check it out! Too bad you didn't have an address. Thanks!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I can't remember the exact number so I may be totally off, between 80 to 280? I'm pretty sure the shops were on Nguyen Dinh Chieu though. You can't miss it as you'll see lots of individual shops with clothes. I bought some nice black cotton slacks from Gap that they hemmed for me. And Express cropped cotton slacks in white, green, and yellow. DKNY tank top. American Eagle tank tops. They're real with proper labels and everything. And because it's better quality than the knock-off stuff, which I can easily spot.

Perhaps, a taxi driver would know? Or if you have a motorbike and don't mind cruising?

My hotel was on Nguyen Binh Khiem, corner of Nguyen Dinh Chieu in district 1. So all I remember was starting out from the hotel and going and going until we hit the shops. Sorry it's not more helpful!

Gastronomer said...

Yay! I'm glad your pants turned out well :-) I REALLY need to get some made too.

Raine said...

Ah, I remember as a kid my Mom and Dad always wore the same kind of tailored pants from VN! My dad still does it (he's like the characters in cartoons, he always wears the same thing everyday... just err different pairs). My mom grew into 'Americanized' clothes, working into jeans and what not xD