After having 11 items of clothing made in Hoi An recently, here are some of my tips for making sure you are satisfied with the finished product:
1. Have a plan. It is incredibly overwhelming looking at all the catalogs and fabric, so go into the store knowing exactly what you want made. If you don’t know the exact style, at least know the number of items or the style of clothing you are looking for (e.g. a suit, some suit shirts, a skirt, etc). You can even bring in items of clothing for them to make a copy, or a photograph of exactly what you want.
2. Look around and get a feel for the stores and tailors on offer. Look at the items on display at each store. In particular, pay attention to the detail on the clothes:
- Do they have buttons, pockets, and extra details you would expect on store-bought clothes?
- Are the hems folded over and done neatly, or is the raw edge visible underneath?
- Do they have good shape to them?
- And especially, do you want to wear something like that? There is no point getting a suit made at a store that only displays traditional style dresses, as you won’t know what the finished product will look like.
3. Let them know how much time you have. There is no point choosing photos, fabrics and being measured if they cannot deliver the goods before you leave town. Try to leave enough time for 2 fittings,
4. Feel the fabric. This is crucial. Ask what the fabric is, and the care instructions. Is it the correct weight for what you are looking for? Does it stretch? Is it going to fall properly? Does it need lining?
5. Be precise. Think about the items above under tip #2. I specified how wide I wanted my hems, how wide I wanted my waistbands, the type of buttons, type of zip and location of zip, and pocket details. If you are meticulous, you will be much happier.
6. Be vocal. If you don’t like it, say so. Tell them how you want it to fit. And don’t just take what you are given. I changed the suit jacket design after my first fitting, because it looked too boxy. I also wanted an inner pocket, buttons, and for it to be taken in. I also changed the length of a skirt, twice. And didn’t like how one of the skirts puckered – most people wouldn’t notice, but I did, and told them. They changed it without complaint – you can tell that they really want to please you to get good feedback, and to get paid!
If you take care, you can get some really amazing clothes. If you don’t, and you just expect them to make the clothes to department store quality, you might be disappointed. It is all about research and communication. And knowing that things may not turn out the way you want. That way you will be surprised when they do 🙂