Updated: 13th May, 2017
I’m a self confessed former shopaholic. I used to have bags full of new clothes lying around the house that hadn’t even been opened. I would go clothes shopping at least 2 or 3 times per week and had a ridiculous amount of stuff I didn’t need.
I stopped cold turkey when we started to save for travel and have only bought absolutely necessary things since then. However, when I started reading about the tailors of Hoi An and how you could have custom made clothes produced in 24 hours, I felt the twinge of shopping mania starting again.
I’m determined not to slip back into my old ways so I’ve not gone crazy (both the size of my bank balance and my backpack kind of dictate that anyway), just a few reasonably priced pieces that I actually needed. Er, aside from the winter coat!
I’m fairly embarrassed to admit that I have an entire wardrobe full of coats at home which really didn’t need adding to! We know if we ever come back to Hoi An it would be so easy to visit with an empty suitcase and leave with a whole new wardrobe.
It sounds amazing fun if you like shopping but the overwhelming choice of tailors and the very Asian approach to sales can be a bit stressful and after trawling around shops for a few days we realised a few things about shopping in Hoi An.
What we bought
2 pairs of light weight hiking pants as mine fell apart and Paul’s hang off his skinny frame.
1 casual dress for travelling
1 formal dress for a friend’s wedding
3 silk ties because they were incredibly cheap
2 woollen winter coats purely because we wanted them, not our finest moment, but we both love coats
Total cost – £115.60 ($175.50)
Tips for successful shopping
Do your research in advance, there are 500 tailors in Hoi An and if you can get a personal recommendation or choose one based on positive reviews then it takes out a lot of the stress.
However, don’t always listen to recommendations from your hotel as they may well be getting commission from tailors.
Having said all of that, we walked into one highly recommended place and just got a bad vibe that led us straight out the door. Which leads me on to…
Trust your gut
If you spot something nice in a shop don’t be afraid to wander in because you haven’t heard of it or had it recommended.
We bought a few things just from random shops because we felt comfortable with the tailor and trusted them to provide the service they offered.
There are some scammers and places that produce shoddy goods but you just need to have your wits about you.
Check fabric and pieces in the store
If you decide to buy something make sure to check the fabric thoroughly for quality before you place the order. There will be a ton of display items in the store so make sure to check the stitching detail and craftsmanship, one thing a lot of tailors do is single stitching which won’t last five minutes.
Make sure they are 100% clear on design
The easiest way to shop is to either choose one of their existing designs or take a piece of clothing that you want copied into the store. If you want something more custom designed or they are working off a photo, make sure they are 100% clear on what you require.
You could end up with something completely different if you’re not careful and for custom work you will have inevitably paid more.
Buy multiple items in one store
If you like a tailor’s work and are keen on a few of their designs you can use it to your advantage.
Most places will offer discounts if you buy 2 or more pieces and it means you only have to go to 1 shop for fittings.
I wouldn’t put all of my eggs in one basket and we ended up buying from 5 stores in total, but it’s a good cost saver.
Check the full price including tax
When they quote you a price make sure it is for everything – including any additional taxes. If you’ve agreed that they will post something home for you make sure the price is set in stone.
We’ve heard from some people that postage charges have tripled and additional taxes have appeared out of thin air.
Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
Paul and I aren’t aggressive negotiators. I’m terrible at it and Paul tends to use a cheeky chappy approach that seems to be successful.
His technique in Hoi An was to tell the shop owners we’d consider the price and have a wander around town before making a decision. As soon as he said this the price would start dropping rapidly but it was still a very friendly negotiation.
Pay on completion
Never pay in full for something before receiving the goods.
At best you will pay the full price on completion, but more than likely you will have to pay a deposit for the work.
Both of which are fine but never leave without the goods after handing over the full cost of your item.
Tailors we would recommend highly
Note: We visited Hoi An in 2013, tailors may have changed since.
Son Ca – 125 Tran Phu St, Hoi An
We had copies of Paul’s existing hiking pants made here and they are absolutely spot on.
They are completely identical to the originals and the fabric is incredibly light. Made within 24 hours and a perfect fit. The tailor was great at listening to exact specifications.
This wonderful tailor is moving locations soon so make sure to search for her new address. The girls in this shop have nailed how to deal with westerners, they aren’t pushy and are incredibly friendly and easy going.
I had a casual dress made here but could have bought the whole shop, they did a great job in beautiful fabric.
651 Cloth Shop – 651 Hai Ba Trung, Hoi An
I had a beautiful formal dress made here for a wedding, the owner has the most wonderful collection of dresses and is incredibly friendly and accommodating.
She really helped me out with what style suited me and subtle adjustments she could make to suit my shape.
Nhung – 19 Tran Phu St, Hoi An
I randomly decided to add to my coat collection and fancied a tweed duffle. You can buy these at literally every single shop in Hoi An, but when I was checking on the quality of fabric and stitching none of them were a match for the British winter.
I liked a unique design in Nhung and the owner’s craftsmanship was better than anything I’d seen.
Anh – 52 Tran Hung Dao St, Hoi An
Obviously since I now had a coat Paul decided he needed one! There were tons of options everywhere but none that stood out.
We stumbled across Anh and she had a gorgeous military jacket on display in not a very nice fabric. We haggled for a woollen version and a beautiful coat was born!
If this post has made you want to go on a shopping rampage let us know by leaving a comment.