Hoi An, Vietnam – Needle and Thread

Hoi An is a town which caters to the needs of international travelers while keeping its local heritage and original old shipping port buildings (thanks to the protection of UNESCO and government regulations).  While in Hoi An, is able to preserve part of it’s heritage in the original structure of the town, we found this town is stuffed with overflowing souvenir shops, restaurants serving international food and tailor shops.  Touristy as it is, we still managed to find pockets of authenticity.  It offered us a glimpse into the town’s need  to  rapidly produce clothing for international buyers which made tailoring a suit in Bangkok look like child’s play.  We had 3 hours in Hoi An and Khoi Tailors led us through the process of selecting clothing, material, buttons and final fittings. I was amazed by how quickly they were able to turn around the clothing as well as working off nothing but a few measurements and a photo.

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The shop keeper told me to literally “pick any clothing in a fashion magazine” and they could make it.  I would suggest that you have in mind exactly what type of fabric to select (including details such as lining and buttons).  The style in Vietnam is very different than in the states so they won’t be able to advise you on small details like this.  The jacket I made had a very specific belt buckle which they did not have on hand in the store.  I was sent on a motobike with one of the helpers to source and choose my own buttons – what an experience!

With 3 hours to spare we walked the historic town, found the local market and and ate Ba Boui – a chicken rice dish famous in this town.

After you give the go ahead I imagine the clothing is sent to a place like this to produce to your specifications.  At 2PM on the dot my jacket is delivered via motobike for fitting. It’s literally hot off of the sewing machine and still contains the chalk markings to help guide the proportions.

The shop owner rushes to the bike to get the clothing.  A first try is slightly tight so we send it back on the motobike to adjust.  The final step is to cut the button openings and trim off excess thread.  The final result is a one of a kind tailored jacket for less than 50 USD. Superb!

With Hoi An being closing to Da Nang and easily accessible by internal flights, I can easily see why lots of international tourists flock here. While it wasn’t my favorite town on this trip, it offered a very interesting perspective on the life and evolvement of businesses in this historic town.

 

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