Don’t go to the Mall, Shop for Clothes in Hoi An, Vietnam

Tucked away about halfway between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, the small town of Hoi An, Vietnam is the clothing shoppers Mecca. But shoppers don’t come here for the high-class stores or designer labels. They come for the tailors.

Hoi An is best known for its custom clothing trade. Every other store in the town’s center is a custom clothing shop. Fierce competition generally keeps costs low and quality decent. Tailors and dressmakers often display their own designs at the front of their shops, which they are happy to duplicate in your size, shape, and color preferences. They can also copy any design. Store tables are often littered with major catalogs, recent fashion magazines, and even pages ripped out of a J. Crew catalog. Shoppers can bring in existing clothing pieces and have tailors duplicate them.

Turnaround time is quick, so don’t worry if you only have a day or two in the city. In general, clothing is available for fittings in less than 24 hours, and it only takes an hour or two to have any necessary alterations made. You can order a suit at noon on Monday and have it ready to take with you for an evening flight on Tuesday.

The major attraction for most tourists is the price. While costs can vary depending on the tailor, expect to pay US$40-$60 for a quality men’s suit, US$30-$50 for a women’s shirt/pants combination, US$15-30 for a suede or corduroy jacket, US$15-25 for a women’s blouse, and US$10-$15 for pajamas.

Remember, a higher price doesn’t necessarily equate to higher quality. Quality can vary greatly from store to store. Be sure clothing pieces are double-stitched. Lining is also a good idea, although it’s often a bit extra. To find a high-quality store, it’s best to ask for recommendations. Often, hotels and guesthouses may offer suggestions (and warnings). While a number of tourist shops have handwritten signs out front from “satisfied customers,” don’t take them as gospel. It’s a much better idea to ask other tourists about stores they’ve patronized and the quality of work they’ve received.

Here are two of our favorites: Long Silk Cloth Shop, 172 Tran Phu St. , Hoi An Town (Tel: 0084.510.863400) – A recommendation of several local hotels. It’s a nicer shop that produces high-quality work with quick turnaround. Their own designs tend to be more mainstream.

Kim Chi Tailor, 90 Le Loi St. , Hoi An Town (Tel: 0084.510.862244) – A trendier shop on the major thoroughfare, their creations display a more modern cutting-edge elegance. Good luck, and enjoy your new wardrobe!

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