One man's true story
07.11.2010 - 08.11.2010
You've probably heard of people who've gone to Vietnam and had a whole wardrobe tailor-made for the price of a nice bottle of wine. They were almost certainly talking about a visit to a lovely little city called Hoi An in central Vietnam. I didn't indulge while I was there, but a few of my travelling buddies did. This post is about the experience of one of them. Let's call him Phil (not his real name...OK it is). Phil had decided before arriving in Vietnam that he'd like to get a couple of shirts made.
Day 1: Starting the day with a leisurely stroll around the town centre, we can't help but notice that every 1.5 commercial premises belongs to a tailor. Late morning - maybe 11ish - our guide takes us into Yaly Couture on Nguyen Thai Hoc St. This visit is just to show us where his personal recommendation (affiliation?) is for getting quality clothing made at a good price, and hand around the business cards so that in our free time we will come back here, rather than go to one of the thousand other tailors in Hoi An. A few people get distracted and we are there for about 10 minutes. Phil has already picked out the fabric for his two shirts and has been talked into getting a business suit made. He'd made a preliminary choice of fabric for that as well.
The afternoon is taken up with a boat ride and a cooking class and other such touristy stuff, so Phil is unable to return until after 5pm to start negotiating the specifics. No problem - they are open until at least 10pm, and perhaps later but I wouldn't know because that's my bedtime. He confirms his original fabric choices and with help from his style advisors (! - that includes me), he selects his suit lining and has all his measurements taken. The tailors begin the process of assembling the garments.
Another 'buddy' tells Phil his suit is going to be dull, so everything is thrown into doubt. Luckily by the end of the evening all is resolved, as he trudges over to the other Yaly shopfront and selects a different lining.
Day 2: Phil is tied up all morning with important touristic duties, but gets dropped off in town just after midday to attend his first fitting. When I come by at about 1:30pm, he is wearing the suit pants which are already pretty much done. He thinks they're a bit snug. I have to agree; I mean, if he doesn't feel comfortable, he must be right, right?
Mid-afternoon, the pants are perfect and the basic construction of the suit jacket is done. Again - a bit tight across the shoulders. No problem. Phil stays while they let it out a bit, then begin attending to the stitching detail.
By late afternoon, we've heard on the street that the suit is close to being ready. We return to Yaly and Phil is still there, about to have a final fitting before everything is locked in.
We catch up with Phil around 9:30pm in a local restaurant across from our hotel. Yes, he has his shirts and his suit, safely tucked away in the extra piece of luggage he's had to purchase, to fit them in. He also has a pair of handmade shoes in a bag at his feet, which have just been delivered to him by motorbike at the restaurant by the aunty of the cobbler. Unbeknownst to us, this was a suggestion of the ladies at Yaly, while Phil was waiting there during the fitting process. The beautifully crafted shoes have taken mere hours to be selected, cut and put together. The only caution was that Phil couldn't wear them for 2 days, as the glue needed to dry properly.
So there you have it. With only a day and a half to spare, you can hang around in Hoi An and get your complete outfit made, down to the shoes.