Saturday, March 13, 2010

Silk shirt extravaganza

I like silk shirts. Silk feels good against my skin, and can be warm in the cold or cool in the heat.

P3090144Hoi An is renowned for its tailors—and especially for silk garments—so I decided to have a couple of shirts made.

“Long sleeved, very nice colour… for you twenty-five dollar!” The seamstress at Kimmy Tailor measured me in lots of different places. “Come back tomorrow for fitting!”

IMG_3846I loved the rich colours we’d chosen, but both Katharine and I were not so impressed with the tailoring. The seams were not straight, and the pocket was a bit crooked. “No problem! We fix it… come back tomorrow!”

Friends we’d met had raved about a different tailor, so instead of ordering blouses for Katharine from Kimmy, we went to Yaly Couture. The selection of cloth was better, it was busier, we liked “Lydia” who did the measurements—and the price was the same. We ordered two blouses for Katharine, with fittings the next day.

Meanwhile, my shirts were ready at Kimmy’s and the problems had indeed been fixed. A custom fitted shirt feels fantastic, and I liked them so much I decided to order two more of the same style in different colours. “Ready tomorrow mister!”

IMG_3932The next day at Yaly’s, it was clear that they were the more professional outfit: Katharine’s blouses were loosely tacked in several areas to allow for adjustment, and the buttons and holes had not been cut. Lydia fitted each one expertly, and told us to come back later the same day for the final fitting.

We picked up my shirts from Kimmy’s and then Katharine’s from Yaly’s. No comparison: although the Kimmy ones were well made and fit properly, the Yaly blouses were much better made.

Katharine looked at me and shrugged. “Well Eric, if you want more, now is the time to do it…”

And that is how I ended up with eight custom-tailored silk shirts from Vietnam! Guess I’ll be okay for shirts for a few years…

Tip: If you have an item of clothing you really like, bring it. The tailors excel at copying, and can make any adjustments you may need. Allow 2–3 days to have items made—but additional items with the same pattern can be made in most places in a day. The biggest cost variable is in the quality of the cloth: labour is cheap, so spend a bit more for top quality cloth.