If you're in Hoi An you'll no doubt come across some of the many tailors, some in shops, some in the main market. And you may be tempted to purchase a few things. Here are a few facts and tips if you plan on doing so...
- You most likely won't get a high quality garment like you may find in the stores back at home. It'll possibly be made fairly well but it may not last long or wash very well and won't have any care instructions.
- High quality means many things such as: material, thread, stitching, seams, hems, pattern alignment and of course the fit and how well it hangs.
- The people doing the selling aren't always the tailors. They're middlemen (or usually women). So ensure everything is communicated clearly.
Things to think about
- If you can negotiate, don't pay the full fee up front. Negotiate as best you can, maybe half up front, half on completion as a starting point.
- If buying pure silk ask them to do the burn test on a cut of the material. Silk will burn. Man-made material will melt.
- You should be going for multiple fittings, especially for suits or jackets. If you've only go for the one fitting don't expect a perfect garment.
- Stick to simple patterns, plain if possible. Complicated patterns are harder to work with and align when tailoring and if well done is a sign of a true pro. Don't always expect a perfectly aligned pattern if buying from some of the tailors in Hoi An.
- Stick to easy to work with material. Stretchy materials, leather and silk can be difficult to tailor. Cotton is a good option.
- Stick to a simple design/garment. Summer dresses or a pair of shorts etc... The more complicated, the more it'll cost and the more that can go wrong with it.
- If buying multiple garments and you have time, get one made and assess the quality to see if you'd be happy with having more made by that seller/tailor.
Checking your garment
- Once made don't just check the fit of the garment. Ensure no shortcuts have been taken.
- Inspect all material for any snags or pulls.
- Inspect all the stitching. If you know your stitches, are the correct ones used? Are they cleanly done and straight. Especially check hems at the bottom of skirts, shirts etc...
- If you notice an imperfection don't be afraid to ask them to correct it.
- Enjoy the experience, and enjoy your purchase but don't be fooled into thinking it's something it's not.