Call it "Tailor Tourism"
November 19, 2009 3:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about taking a suit holiday. As in, going to a country where not only can I have a fun vacation, but I can get a bunch of suits made for a good price. Where should I go?

When I was teaching in Korea back in 2001 I got a few suits made for me on a lark. Some were the kitschy kind of fun suits that you get made when they're 70 bucks American and you think "what the hell." In my case that was one red satin number and five iridescent sharkskin suits in colors ranging from blue to yellow to brown - all as shiny as a marine's dress shoes.

Goodfellas was one of the only American movies I saw over there. I think it left a mark.

But in addition to those suits I also got one charcoal gray suit made and one light brown one. Those two have been my standby suits ever since. I get compliments every time I wear them, they fit me perfectly and I worry about the day they finally fall apart.

Thus I've been considering a "Suit Holiday." Something where I go somewhere like South Korea, have an exotic trip, and get a bunch of suits made to take home and last me another decade.

But I'm wondering if South Korea IS the way to go here. Maybe Hong Kong? Or Taiwan? Or the Philippines? Or Indonesia? I'm totally open.

Where is the place I can get the best bang for my buck and get 5 or ten suits made to take home with me? Where would YOU go on a Suit Holiday?
posted by rileyray3000 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I know a crew of six brothers who all took a suit holiday to Hong Kong together. They all had a splendid time and came back with too many awesome suits to count.
posted by scody at 3:53 PM on November 19, 2009

You don't indicate where you'd be coming from, and currency exchange rates can affect relative cost.

In any event, suits in Hong Kong are generally rather expensive. My understanding is that (mainland) China and Vietnam have good deals, at least as compared to Western prices.
posted by dfriedman at 3:56 PM on November 19, 2009

Hoi An, Viet Nam is a popular choice.
posted by the cuban at 3:57 PM on November 19, 2009

If you go to Hong Kong, check out Mike Tailor. He did suits for 3 of my male friends when he was traveling through the US.
posted by matildaben at 4:00 PM on November 19, 2009

Wouldn't Italy be a good choice? I've never done it, but I was told by German friends that Armani suits that sell for $2000 in the US could be had for 1/10th the price in Italy.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:01 PM on November 19, 2009

DrJimmy: your german friends are ill-informed. The cheapest option here in Italy are designers outlets. And even there, 1/10th of the price is definitely not the case.
posted by _dario at 4:19 PM on November 19, 2009

Vietnam's a good bet, yeah.
posted by EarBucket at 4:31 PM on November 19, 2009

I was on the island of Penang, Malaysia a few years ago and there were lots of tailors doing nice work. Penang is a funky place to spend a week or two (Georgetown or the coastal hotels). Also in Penang, eyeglass makers and Australian trained dentists doing very good priced work.

I had some dresses made in Bali last year and they were good. Next time though, I am going to take some material from Aus with me when I go as the range wasn't as wide as I'd like.
posted by Kerasia at 4:36 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

My brother had several suits made for a song (under $100 USD each) in Thailand a few years ago.
posted by kayzie at 4:39 PM on November 19, 2009

Seconding Hoi An, Vietnam; was just there last week, place is crammed full of tailor shops offering great prices on well-made suits (about $20 for a good suit? not bad).

Here's a list of recommended tailors in Hoi An. Here's an interesting discussion on TravelFish - some commenters advise not to get a whole suit done there, while others say you should just choose the right shop.

One shop I hear about the most is Yaly Couture. Look them up while you're in Hoi An; I'd point you to their website, except Google says it's full of malware.
posted by micketymoc at 4:55 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

2nd Thailand. My husband travels there a lot and has had a couple of things made well and made cheaply.
posted by dogmom at 5:02 PM on November 19, 2009

A couple friends have had suits and shirts made in Hong Kong and Thailand. Mostly they've been happy, but a couple items haven't turned out so great. I wonder if they would have been better off getting measured in the US, sending off an order to the overseas tailor and then planning their trip to coincide with the final fitting. My understanding is that most of the high quality tailors need at least a couple weeks turnaround time, so I don't think it's feasible to get a first fitting and final product in one trip.
posted by mullacc at 5:11 PM on November 19, 2009

When I was in China I had a very nice suit made for about 200 american. Too nice, in fact, because I've only had one occasion to wear it.

Go anywhere where stuff is cheap, really. The key is this: Stop in Italy and/or France first. See what they're wearing and then come back to the US (I'm assuming, perhaps incorrectly) and you'll be a damn movie star because it'll be six months or a year before people over here catch up.
posted by cmoj at 6:28 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

As mentioned above, Hoi An Vietnam is 90% tailors Decent beach outside of town (bike ride away) too. I'd do some research online before you go anywhere, though. As with anything, there are good shops and bad shops.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:49 PM on November 19, 2009

It would be useful to know if you're looking for an excellent suit (which will cost much less than a similar suit in the first world, but will still be more than an off-the-rack number) or a crazy cheap suit (which will cost very little, but will be a gamble in terms of quality) or something in between.

I live in Seoul and, while there are certainly tailors here, the value isn't spectacular enough to make it worth a special trip.

Overseas tailors?
Hong Kong Bespoke
Bangkok Tailors
and probably others.

I've bought a suit and several shirts from Rajawongse Clothier in Bangkok. In terms of tailoring in East Asia, Thailand has a reputation as being better value than HK and better quality than Vietnam, although I should stress I am not an expert in this area.

W W Chan is one of Hong Kong's top tailors and they have an outlet in Shanghai which I've heard is slightly cheaper than their main branch.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:04 PM on November 19, 2009

My best friend had three made in Thailand - having seen these suits and having examined the quality, I was bloody impressed. The workmanship is amazing. He is a physician who wears them frequently, and with proper care look as good as they did five years ago when he brought them home.

Get something in a classic cut - you can't go wrong with a three button single breasted suit. One gray, one black, one blue. Pinstripes optional.
posted by Thistledown at 7:29 PM on November 19, 2009

For what it's worth, I also have a friend who had good suits made while in Thailand.
posted by ramenopres at 9:24 PM on November 19, 2009

A friend of mine got several nice, good quality suits mad when he was Mysore India.
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:00 PM on November 19, 2009

Not only did he get the suites mad, he also got them made
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:10 PM on November 19, 2009

Another vote for Hoi An, Vietnam. Great food, nearby beach, and half the businesses in town are tailor shops. I had some shirts and slacks made, all of which came out very nice. Didn't get a suit, but I had a rockabilly-style drape coat custom tailored. I showed them some photos, gave them a sketch, picked out the fabric, and after several fittings, I had a beautiful, fully lined coat that fit perfectly -- for about $40.00 US.
posted by zombiedance at 10:39 PM on November 19, 2009

you can't go wrong with a three button single breasted suit

The nineties rang. They want their suit back. Two buttons on a single breasted suit coat these days, fella.

I have done this. I got two made in Bagkok - acceptable quality, cheap as chips. Three years ago I had one made by the Power Company tailors in Hong Kong. It's still my interview suit.

More recommendations here.
posted by dmt at 5:03 AM on November 20, 2009

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