How to Find a Tailor in Vietnam

Tailor Made in Saigon: A New Wardrobe from Vietnam

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Some of the most fun SVV and I had during our Semester at Sea voyage was getting wardrobes custom-made in Saigonโ€”though finding a quality tailor in Vietnam is not always the easiest pursuit.

That should come as no surprise, as I sort of love clothes, not to mention worked in retail in college and at a fashion magazine later in life, but up until two years ago, my husband—surfer dude from California—never even owned a suit. Now, he has three.
Tailor Made in Vietnam: How to Find a Great Tailor

But for both of us, total novices at having a wardrobe made, this was a rookie endeavor. What sort of fabric makes for a quality garment? How does the process even work? Well, here’s what we learned when it came to pinning down a tailor in Ho Chi Minh.

Do Your Research

Tailors are a dime a dozen in Vietnam—how do you know who is legit? Well, you don’t. A whole lot of it is trial-and-error. And many of them don’t have websites so it’s hard to research in advance. Our first day in Saigon was spent trying to track down Cao Minh, a tailor who had come highly recommended to us by Josh, the dashing gentleman pictured above with SVV who had lived in the Vietnamese capital for five years. We never found Cao Minh, as locals kept pointing us the wrong direction.


Eventually, we found ourselves instead on Pasteur Street, a row absolutely bustling with tailor shops, just on the opposite side of the famed Hotel Rex. SVV and our friend Brian went with the first men’s tailor we found after perusing the products in his storefront. I was a little pickier and went with word of mouth based on our friends Andrew and Jane’s recommendation. I was happy with all my results. Exhibit A:


Trina found a tailor who she decided to take a gamble on, and I watched the process before doing it myself. The woman barely spoke English, and despite a lot of hand gestures and drawings, we weren’t completely sure if she “got” Trina’s vision. In the end, Trina wound up getting one dress back that she loved and one that she was a bit iffy about. I decided to keep looking before making any final decisions.

Bring Your Own Fabric and Designs

My friends Trina and Paula were wise: They’d done this before, and they picked up fabric in Ghana with the intention of getting it made into something pretty in Vietnam. That worked out swimmingly for the two of them. Here is one of Paula’s Ghana-bought, Vietnamese-made products:


(No, not the washboard abs, the pretty dress, you dirty minds, you.)

While the majority of tailors had their own fabrics for suits and men’s shirts, most of them did not carry women’s fabric—you had to find this elsewhere.


Trina, SVV and I spent a morning perusing the various fabric shops along Ly Tu Trong for me, and while those are easy to come by, too, most only carried silk, and well, I’m not so much a silk girl. I finally found a couple cotton swatches at one of the hole-in-the-wall stores that I liked, and then later picked up the bulk of my fabrics at Chi Chi (and even brought some back to the States to design my own dresses at a later date).

Chi Chi—the fabric store on the back alley behind the storefront of the same name—had some of the prettiest fabrics I’ve ever seen, much of it very Anthropologie-looking, which is what appealed to me about this print. I promptly bought it and paid the store $48 to turn it into a maxi dress for me.


I had five dresses made in total; for two of them, I took in dresses I really liked (no surprise, from Anthropologie) and had them copy the design. For the other three, I flipped through a book of patterns one of the tailors had on hand for inspiration then dictated to her what I liked to her, as she drew out exactly what I envisioned. Exhibit B (don’t mind the wrinkles):


It’s a good idea to think of what you want well in advance and bring your own printouts, just in case the tailor doesn’t have any pre-made design ideas that you actually like. Oh, and of course, you can have things highly customizable made, as Josh and Trina did with their denim onesies (which cost them about $20 each and which they’ve both, surprisingly, already gotten about that much wear out of). I fully intended to do this with a Halloween costume, as well; maybe next time.

Allot Enough Time for Fittings

Good thing we went and found our tailors on day one and two of our time in Vietnam, as it often takes a full week to hand-craft a tailor-made suit from scratch. Plus, you have to come back for a first and, often times, second fitting.


Even giving the tailors five days was pushing it, and while I pulled the trigger on all my dresses on the second morning we were there, I didn’t actually go in for my first fitting until 10am on our last day in town; it wasn’t until 7pm—exactly an hour before I had to be back on the ship—that I went for my final fitting and picked up the merchandise. And the one “formal dress” I had made, which actually was silk, had only been a scrap of fabric the first time I tried it on. Good thing it fit like a glove!

Bargain, Bargain, Bargain

While we were in Pham Minh getting four dresses crafted up for me, SVV was just lounging, waiting (rather impatiently) as I sketched out my visions with the designer. By the time I was done, he had ordered another suit. I can’t blame him: The lady running the shop was darling—we like to say she “glamored” him into buying, as she did our friend Andrew. Then again, he had already paid $250 across the street, so he was only getting a second if she made it worth his while. After some intense bargaining—the Vietnamese are not easy when it comes to this—he got her to come down on the price, as well as throw in two shirts and a tie in the deal.


Moral of this point: Don’t take the first price offered. There are so many tailors in Vietnam, that they will bargain with you for your business. You’re going to have to work for it, though. Plus, the tailors keep your measurements on hand for years to come and offer to ship internationally, so we fully intend to drop her an email one day soon and get her to make us some more pretty things.

Our Tailor Recommendations

Here are the tailors we used. Print them out, plot them on a map and take them with you when you go to Saigon—or risk losing a whole day as we did wandering around like little lost lambs, as the majority of local tailors don’t have websites.

Tailor Pham Minh
132 Pasteur, District 1
email: phamminhtailor@yahoo.com.vn
phone: 08-62910511

Expect to Pay: My dresses ran about $20 each (a little more for the long, silk one above), though they tacked on $5 if your item required a lining, which two of mine did. This doesn’t include the fabric. SVV paid $285 for a suit, two shirts and a tie—all made to his specs and including the fabric. We loved Nu (pictured above) and would go back here in a heartbeat. They don’t have women’s fabric, however, so ladies, it’s imperative that you bring your own; on the flip side, they do stock a good range of fabric for men’s wear.

Veston Huy Hoang
65 Pasteur Street, District 1

Expect to Pay: $200 and upward for a suit, fabric included. Obviously, the better the quality of fabric, the higher the price. SVV and our pal Brian each had really nice suits made here, but they were pricey—for Vietnam. Still, you couldn’t get this kind of deal anywhere in the United States, so we’re not complaining.

Chi Chi
138 Pasteur Street, District 1
phone: 84-838247812

Expect to Pay: More than you would elsewhere. This was one of the most expensive places we checked out in terms of tailor fees. I got the maxi dress a few photos above made there for $48 (not including fabric), but that was it. However, the majority of fabric for my other dresses was purchased at Chi Chi for about $11 a meter, simply because they had the best selection in my eyes. (FYI: You need between a meter and a meter-and-a-half for a dress, depending on the length.) I’d recommend stocking up on fabric at Chi Chi and having your goods whipped up for you elsewhere.

If you have your own recommendations for tailors in Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi or Hoi An, feel free to leave them below for the good of your fellow travelers!

COMMENTS
  • January 2, 2012

    Very cool! I got a ton of clothing made in Hoi An which was so much fun but produced kind of mixed results. My one mistake? Getting fancy dresses made that I still haven’t gotten a chance to wear in my unglamorous backpacking life.

    • January 2, 2012
      Kristin

      I was surprised to find good tailors in Saigon, as I had heard from other travelers that Hoi An and Hanoi were the places to go in Vietnam. We actually had contemplated a side trip to one of those cities just for the tailoring, but wound up staying in Saigon because we were leading a SAS trip to Cambodia for part of the time. So I was happy that we actually found tailors we trusted, and that the finished products were so nice!

    • September 14, 2014
      Tina

      I went to Tailor Pham Minh and was disappointed; I put a deposit of $360.00 for 8-shirts and 2- 3 piece suits and 1-2 piece suit and just left two days ago with no merchandise; glad I paid with credit card for that added protection. The lady (shown in the photo) wanted me to take all the clothing that had chalk stains and a few pen stains on them and send them to the dry cleaners. She refused to sell me the partial order without visible damage. I did not want to take any risks for stains not being able to come out. I was there for two weeks and four fittings. Females stay away; men may have a better experience. Some of the stains she could not get out herself but still wanted me to take all items. I will only use the advice of Trip Advisor whenI go back

  • January 2, 2012

    I love all your new dresses, and the style you choose is very flattering. I love to wear dresses when it’s warm enough, which is usually during summer when I’m wearing a uniform instead. Will keep this in mind for future travels.

    • January 2, 2012
      Kristin

      Thanks, Gaelyn! I’m finding myself in a bit of a wardrobe pickle right now, as it just turned 30 degrees now in Tennessee and my wardrobe is–you guessed it–mostly sundresses. =)

  • January 2, 2012

    Awesome! I’m a little surprised that suits were still that expensive in Vietnam though… I always thought they’d be cheaper, but then, I don’t really know what the comparable price would be in the States. I don’t do much suit shopping but my man is wanting one!

    • January 2, 2012
      Kristin

      Some of our friends got suits made for cheaper–around $150 or so. Scott wanted the heavier, more durable fabric. I also knew nothing about suit shopping until we got married and was shocked to find you can’t really get a decent one in the United States for less than $700 (hence why Scott and his brother both rented theirs).

  • January 2, 2012

    I am dying, literally dying to do this! I seriously think I want to go to Vietnam JUST to do this! Okay, that is not completely true, but it is close! When I do get myself over there I will use this post as a reminder of what to do (and not to do!) thanks!

    • January 2, 2012
      Kristin

      Well, San Francisco to Ho Chi Minh is an easy (and relatively cheap) flight… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • January 2, 2012
    Briel K.

    Love the maxi dress!

  • January 2, 2012

    I’ve been to Hoi An twice, and loaded up on clothes both times. It was bit hit-and-miss, but I did have these INSANE black pants made there, which are the most flattering ones I’ve ever owned. They’re magical. Those, and my red coat with the wraparound collar, plus — bizarrely! — a black bikini, were my favorite things; five years later, and they’re still going strong! Sean’s shirts disintegrated after a while, but the bigger stuff — a blazer, a winter coat — is still holding up well for him too.

    Your dresses are beautiful and SVV looks very dashing! Arghhhh, now I want to go back and do it all over again.

    • January 2, 2012
      Kristin

      I started reading your blog around the time you and Sean were in Vietnam, and ever since, I’ve wanted to go through the tailoring process myself!

    • January 3, 2012

      I *also* started reading Holly’s blog while she was in Asia, and after her posts, this post, and the stories from a girlfriend of mine who went to Vietnam last spring…yes, I absolutely must go and have an entire new wardrobe made. No question about it.

      xox

      • January 3, 2012
        Kristin

        You’ll be the envy of all the girls in Utah!

  • January 2, 2012

    Freaking gorgeous! The dresses are nice, too.

  • January 2, 2012

    Awesome story. Glad it worked out so well too. Didn’t even think about Vietnam for getting suits made. I had some suits, dress pants, and dress shirts made in India a few years ago when I was visiting family. It worked out well in the end, but was frustrating almost every step of the way. The store saying “this is how it should fit” to my mom who used to work in tailoring and knew better, and other people constantly trying to push these floral pattern shirts on me claiming they “are the style in America”. But in the end the suits are awesome and i still wear them several years later.

    • January 3, 2012
      Kristin

      And I would have never thought of India as a place to get some tailoring done! Interesting. Yes, I liked the efficiency of the tailoring process in Vietnam–the people there know quality clothing and did exactly what we asked them, too!

  • January 3, 2012

    This is so cool! Kali and I were actually thinking of getting some stuff made while we’re here in Thailand. I wonder how it compares to Vietnam? I don’t know if he actually needs a suit, but I wouldn’t mind a handful of cute dresses like the ones you got. ๐Ÿ™‚ Were there decent designs in the style books they show you, or way most of the stuff outdated/super fancy?

    • January 3, 2012
      Kristin

      Many of the tailors we went to didn’t even have stylebooks for girls (they all had books of men’s suits), but the one where I had four dresses made had very similar patterns to what I wanted. Just to be safe, I’d print off things you like from online catalogs like J. Crew or whatever and take it with you. I hear Hong Kong has great tailors, too.

  • January 3, 2012
    Haidang

    you did well KL!!! great job. beautiful dresses ๐Ÿ˜‰ awww if my mom was there she could have went with you…she is a crazy tailor made shopaholic too hehe!

    • January 3, 2012
      Kristin

      Next time I go, I’ll have to get her list of tailor recs!

  • January 3, 2012

    You two look great!

    This makes we wish we would have had clothes made in Hong Kong. Oh well.. Vietnam is on the travel list, so we’ll do it there (probably cheaper) based on your recommendations.

    • January 4, 2012
      Kristin

      We went to Hong Kong next, and I didn’t even realize tailoring was so big there until we arrived (even though I’d been once before in 2009). But given how much pricier Hong Kong was as a whole, I’m betting that Vietnam was a better deal.

  • January 4, 2012

    This was the post I was looking for. You listened! (or you were going to post about it anyways). But seriously, this is great advice when going to Vietnam. I would have never have thought of being in another country and picking up fabric for Vietnam like your friend did. *Something to remember. I now want a denim onesie and will keep this in mind if I ever go to Vietnam for a serious kick ass Halloween costume.

    • January 4, 2012
      Kristin

      I now want to buy all the fabric in all the countries I visit and take it to Vietnam to have dresses made! I bought two really gorgeous prints in Saigon that I didn’t use, and I’m seriously considering taking them to my tailor in Tennessee and seeing if she can do something pretty with them.

  • January 4, 2012

    So cool and the items you guys got looks absolutely amazing! I love that they keep your measurements on hand for future purchases – that’s smart business, for sure!

    • January 4, 2012
      Kristin

      Assuming neither of us gains a massive amount of weight from all this pulled pork and fried food in the South, that is!

  • January 5, 2012

    I am seething with jealously over here, lady. SEETHING. Those clothes are gorgeous.

    As all all the people who appear on your blog. Seriously. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • January 6, 2012
      Kristin

      Haha, one could say the same about you! You and Rand sure are a pretty, pretty couple =)

      (But thank you! I’m sure all the featured parties are blushing at your compliments.)

      • January 6, 2012

        Please. We are but chubby mortals. I’d love to chill with you and your friends in person, but I’m afraid I might start drooling. Makes for awkward small talk.

        ๐Ÿ™‚

  • January 6, 2012
    Amy

    This is something I’ve always wanted to do – thank you for sharing your experience. What BEAUTIFUL dresses, and those suits are SO SHARP.

    • January 6, 2012
      Kristin

      Thanks, Amy! It’s definitely something I plan to do again–and soon!

  • January 6, 2012

    LOVE SVV’s suit — him and my hubby have such similar tastes. Your dresses are to die for.

    • January 6, 2012
      Kristin

      The Other Andi actually commented on all the dresses I took on the trip, and said “you and Andi and your dresses!” I have to argue that we are probably the most comfortable travelers of them all =)

  • January 6, 2012

    I am such a hemmer-and-hawer that we never got around to this despite spending so long in Saigon. I just felt so unprepared. I do plan on going back to Vietnam to do the North though, so I’ll come armed with photos of dress and costumes replicas I want, and do hours on crazy internet research before hand ๐Ÿ™‚

    • January 6, 2012
      Kristin

      I also felt that way…especially with my limited access to Internet. That’s why I took two dresses I already owned and loved, and then luckily, one of the tailors I went to had a great book of ideas. So I sort of combined the styles of what I brought and what I saw, and they all turned out pretty!

  • January 8, 2012

    Your clothes look great! We bought a ton of clothes in Hoi An and most are great. we ran into problems wity Deidra’s clothes because of fabric types we picked. My suits I wear often and look fantastic!

  • December 8, 2012

    I so want to do this! Our voyage is only going to Ho Chi Minh though, and I can’t really afford to go to other cities… so here’s hoping I find a nice tailor there!

    • December 11, 2012

      Well, you’re in luck as all of these tailors are in HCMC. Have fun!

  • July 29, 2013
    Sav

    Hi
    I was just wondering how much would a double breasted vest made out of brocket material. With the ability to change the colour of the pockets and the buttons.

    Also what would be the price for ties and bow ties made out of brocket.

    I would like this to be an on going partnership for many years to come.

    Also how much would it be for delivery.

    Many thanks
    Sav

  • July 3, 2014
    nh

    I travelled to Vietnam from Singapore for a holiday. Prior to arriving I researched and emailed a few tailors about making a traditional 3-piece morning suit, I spent a lot of time explaining the fabrics I wanted, the style and my stature to help with the quote. I was responded to by Kien from Cao Minh who quoted USD$500-1000. I explained to him that my budget was USD$500, he responded that it should be fine but I would need to go for a lower grade of wool and it might be slightly more that USD$500.

    When I got to HCMC Kien arranged for me to see Khuyen at their Dong Khoi shop, she had me choose some fabrics. I chose and she quoted about USD$800 for 2-pieces. I explained my budget and she got out some cheap 50% man made fibre materials and quote USD$650 for 2-pieces.

    I left furious. There tactic is obviously to say what you want to hear to get you through the doors then try and upsell hard. I went to Dung tailor that evening and found all the fabrics I wanted and was treated with respect.

    Do not waste your time here, these guy’s are serious rip-off merchants and time-wasters!

    • December 1, 2015
      Kay

      Yes many tailors are serious rip off artists but do know that the taxes on imported goods are extremely high. So if your suit is made with imported materials it will be very expensive. India is my first choice for tailoring. Delhi has some excellent tailors for men. You pay about $6 for a shirt to be made (plus cost of your material which is extra). Suits vary. One big positive about India is that they seem to understand fat figures well there. Bangkok was great for tailoring 15 years ago but now they outsource to India.

  • February 9, 2016
    Joan van Velsor

    NICE dresses. That would be a dream… Taking fabric from my, impressive stash, and having it made up? Wonderful

  • May 2, 2017

    Thanks for the tips and recommendations! Vietnam generally has inexpensive options, but since tailor shops are so prevalent, I suppose these shop owners want to make a good profit. Your dresses look amazing, so looks like it was money well spent!

  • February 20, 2018
    bill

    the suits look like they fit like garbage, the shirts it too long in the sleeves and the arms ait too long. SOWWy

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