Why You Should Have Clothes Made in Vietnam
From the 15th to 19th century, Hoi An in Vietnam was a Southeast Asian shipping post. Its well-preserved international heritage is one of the big draws, with Chinese Temples and French colonial houses lining the streets here. It is small enough to get around on foot, and the roads are less busy here than they are in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.
It has a really cosy atmosphere and you can spend days here wandering around the streets, visiting trendy art galleries, stopping for coffee in the abundance of roasteries, eating white rose dumplings at the variety of great restaurants, and also spending your Dong in the souvenir shops.
However despite all of these niceties, my trip to Vietnam had an agenda. Not only did I fancy some winter sun and an escape from our cold British winter, but I also wanted some clothes made; more specifically, a wedding dress.
To most people it sounded like a totally bonkers idea. Who on earth would get a dress made somewhere like Vietnam. However I had a friend who inspired me, so I decided to take the plunge. If you want tailored clothes made, perhaps a suit, a smart work dress, a mother of the bride dress, some tailored trousers, or even a wedding dress, Hoi An is the place to go. Here are the things you should do before heading out:
Know how to get there
This might sound pretty obvious, however it wasn’t for me! There is no train station or airport in Hoi An. The closest city is Da Nang which is about 45 minutes away. You can fly into Da Nang from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. Or, if you are on a budget and have some time, you could take a night train from Hanoi. Make sure you have plenty of space in your bag to put your new tailored clothes as they will have to endure internal travel before you depart Vietnam.
Do what you want
Have an idea of the colour, type of fabric, cut and style that you want. If you can, take pictures of what you want made. The tailors there are magicians however it really helps if they have something to replicate from.
Research the tailors
Do your research. There are an abundance of ‘tailors’ in Hoi An but only a few of them actually have factories and make the clothes on site. Most of the high street tailors are middle men, who send the orders to sweatshops or to seamstresses in the market. The problem with this is that you have less control over the final product. I went to BeBe, they have three shops in Hoi An and have their own factory within these shops. I found the process totally streamlined and a really slick operation. The seamstresses were charming and couldn’t do enough to help. I felt confident that they were going to do a great job right from the beginning. Other options are Kimmy, A Dong Silk and Yaly. These shops also have their own factories and are more upmarket when compared to other tailor shops so will cost more, however you do get what you pay for.
Hotels, taxi drivers and guides are all on commission and they will all be after the commission from referring you. It’s not to say that they will refer you to a bad tailor, but just be aware that everyone wants to make money from your new fabulous tailored clothes.
Understand there's a process
You don’t need to book in advance, you can literally just walk in. They are used to turning things around in short timescales so don’t panic if you only have a few days. Within an hour they will have established what you want, chosen your material, sketched it out, taken your measurements and taken payment. You will go for your first fitting the next day, there will be ‘wiggle room’ initially but as your fittings progress it will get better and better! They have roomy, air-conditioned fitting rooms so you don’t need to worry about sweating onto your shiny new clothes. Depending on how much time you have you might have to go in twice in one a day for fittings.
Enjoy the experience
My experience was fantastic. I got to Hoi An and I was so incredibly nervous, what on earth was I doing having a wedding dress made out there?! All of those negative comments the critics had said to me came back to haunt me. However the whole process from start to finish was a total pleasure. The seamstresses spoke fantastic English, they are incredibly skilled people and are masters at their craft, which filled me with confidence. They turned my wedding dress round in four days. It took four fittings and on the fifth day I picked it up!
Not only did I have the holiday of a lifetime but I also came home with a silk dress, totally tailored for me, at a fraction of the cost of a dress bought from the UK, and it only took four days. Considering the average lead time for a wedding dress in the UK is six months, I feel like I didn’t do too badly.
Hoi An is an incredible place to visit. It has culture, architecture, a great climate and friendly people. It is also the perfect place to create a brand new fabulous wardrobe!
Discover Hoi An – and its incredible tailors – on one a Flight Centre tailor-made Journey to Vietnam.