Hoi-An – Get yourself a Tailor
Days 809 – 812
One of the things we planned to do here in Hoi An was to have outfits made for George and Laura’s Wedding in July. (Lindsey and Tim’s eldest son). Looking for the right colour and material was the first challenge; there are so many Tailors, with both large and small shops from which to buy.
We draped ourselves with fabric and started to talk styles and sizes with mostly helpful assistants. I could see this wasn’t going to be easy. As well as so much choice, we also had some requests lost in translation!
We found some beautiful material in one store for Lindsey’s outfit, only to discover the next day that they didn’t have enough! Very frustrating.
Onto the next tailors; this time 24-year-old Tuyen at Sam Sam’s was extremely agreeable, and we both ended up being measured for tops and trousers.
You think the jobs done; however, the next day we returned for the first fitting to discover that the tops were too big and the trousers too tight! Tuyen patiently pinned and took photos to communicate with the seamstress which bits need tweaking.
We returned to see Tuyen numerous times, as unfortunately, the silk that Lindsey had chosen was delicate and the top needed to be reworked. Finally, at 9 pm on our last night, it was adequate to go, but sadly not good enough for the wedding.
Another tailor’s we visited was Bebe. From our research and now our own experience, although we loved the helpful Rose who served us, their quote was expensive and they were not willing to discount.
Lindsey recommended Yaly Couture from her previous time here. Although some clothes may have been made cheaper elsewhere, we thoroughly enjoyed our experience with them and would highly recommend dear Penny, who consulted with me. She understood my requests and we had fun working out styles, colours and fabrics together.
Her boss was also very attentive, and when I sat down and gently explained that I knew they were able to negotiate, but I wanted to be fair, they increased the discount from 5% to 8%. She told me that during different seasons they are allowed by the owners to offer more, but not now.
Could this be because during/post-Tet, they have to pay staff a premium rate to work the national holiday? Or could it be that the sudden decline of tourist numbers, due to the coronavirus, is affecting their business?
Once again, we were impressed by Penny and her colleagues’ willingness to listen and keep reworking garments until not only were we delighted, but the boss was satisfied with the finished product too. They were happy to go off-piste when I asked for a black leather sleeveless top to be made. It felt like we were experimenting together, and in some small way, a symbiotic relationship was being established. They were interested in new ideas/shapes/designs etc.
During our final fitting, Penny mentioned that another customer, having seen me being fitted for a top, had chosen to have the same made.
It’s a great experience, if, like me, you enjoy colour and design. Moreover, it was so satisfying being able to buy clothes that fitted me!! And after a friend encouragingly said we were helping the local economy and investing in sustainable tourism, I feel less guilty and justified as I had started to give away clothes at home that perhaps I had never/seldom worn.
Hoi An offers clothes at different prices and quality. There are market stalls and little shops where you can pick up a sundress, casual beach trousers and leather goods (an item was ordered for Simon) reasonably priced.
Another favourite for me was Heart Made, a recently opened tiny shop near the primary Hoi An market and run by the sweetest young couple. They buy their products from artisan craftspeople from the highlands (north Vietnam) where traditional methods are still used but to their updated designs.
Of course, I had to support their new enterprise by buying gifts for Dawn and Abi, and of course, a couple of items for myself!