I’ve had items tailor made in Thailand and in Vietnam, it’s something I seriously look forward to when traveling to this part of the world. I already have designs ready for my next trip! Some of my bespoke items have turned out better than others and I’m hoping my experience and information can assist you in having the best possible outcome when you decide to have items tailor made in south east Asia.
1. Take an image or bring the exact item if possible. A lot can get lost in translation, and you know what they say about a photo… I brought a dress that I wore frequently and asked them to duplicate it. I was astonished at how well they did this.
2. Ask to see the items they’ve already made– likely these will be photos in a book they have in the shop, and also inspect the items in the store. This is not a fail safe method as either could be produced by someone not in this shop, but atleast it lets them know you are serious about the quality of the item.
3. Bring your own fabric when possible or desirable. Fabric is a huge portion of any design. Even with the best cut, construction and stitching an item would turn out awful with subpar material.
4. If the shop doesn’t have the exact fabric on hand that you want, but provides a swatch and tells you it’s no problem they have the fabric elsewhere you really should verify this. Tell them you want to see the entire amount of fabric in the ship and that you will come back at an arranged time. It’s common to be sold on one luxury fabric only to find the entire outfit has been made with a different/lower quality one. “I couldn’t find that one at the market” I was told after an entire outfit was made. Don’t let this happen to you.
5. Shop around. It’s ok to leave one shop and head to another. They’ll still be more than happy to accommodate you when you return.
6. Don’t judge a place by the dated items in the window. Some of these shops produce amazing quality items, but they haven’t considered updating the mannequins because daily people are still coming to purchase items.
7. Get the price in writing, and never pay fully upfront. A deposit of 50% is pretty standard.
8. If you have the time get just one item made and check the quality before continuing to have the others made. I know it’s tempting when they’re offering you to get more made for less, but if this is going to be a mistake it’s better to keep that mistake to one piece. If they piece is great they will be able to very quickly produce other pieces for you, and likely will still offer you that great deal.
9. Agree on a time table and allow time for two additional fittings. Not everyone gets it right the first time, and you’re paying to have this tailored to you.
10. Really make sure at the second fitting that the fit is what you want. It’s much more expensive to tailor items back in the US.