Shopping for clothes can either be really fun or slightly exasperating. It’s exciting to see the various options and try different styles, then be able to take them home and wear them right away. On the other hand, it can sometimes be difficult to find exactly what you want in the perfect fit. Clothes off the rack will rarely fit as if it were specifically made for you. Why not get them tailor-made and use it as an excuse to travel more?
Here are some of the best places around Southeast Asia for custom clothes and what you need to know about shopping there.
Well known around the world for high-end tailoring, Hong Kong is the place to go for good quality at decent prices. You can expect to get a full suit made for anywhere from $2000-$5000 HKD. Businessmen from many different countries often get their suits made here and shipped home, for the best fit at comparable prices and quality. There are countless fabric markets and large textile stores with quality materials. With a wide range of selection at low prices, some people prefer to buy their fabric separately, then take them to the tailor for fitting. Others prefer to wait for advice from the tailor about which fabrics would work best for certain styles.
Another well-known place for quality and stylish bespoke fashion is Singapore. This country challenges its competition with accessible high-end suits and tailor-made designer clothes. Looking for the height of trend or something special for an important event, consult a local designer, where you can get something fabulous made just for your body type for anywhere between $500 to $2000 SGD. Singapore is also a great place for beautiful silks and countless details for intricate embellishments.
There are two different cities in Vietnam that are great for custom-made clothes. Both Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An are often visited for their tailoring reputations. They are not quite the same, though, and each prides itself on different specialisations. Overall, Ho Chi Minh City seems to be best known for its high quality silk and efficient work, whereas Hoi An is better for traditional, yet quality fabrics and workmanship at the lowest prices. In Hoi An, you may pay anywhere from $18 USD for a dress to $200 USD for a suit, while you can easily expect to pay much more (along with much better quality) in Ho Chi Minh City. It seems that Hoi An is best for quick, inexpensive, everyday wear, where Ho Chi Minh City, on the other hand, is the place to go for suits and dresses requiring high-end materials and detailed workmanship.
If you are looking for specialty tailors who custom design quality attire, Malaysia is the place to go—Kuala Lumpur, specifically. It may take a little effort to sift through the many street tailors vying for customers, but Kuala Lumpur is home to several long-standing classic tailors with over 30 years of experience. While the price of custom clothes here is slightly higher (anywhere from $80-$125 USD for a shirt) than other places, the quality—both of the workmanship and the fabric itself—is difficult to rival. These designers are not afraid to customise every detail, down to the pattern itself, to fit your exact needs. If that’s not convincing enough, be sure to check out the traditional Batik art fabrics, intricately detailed, hand painted fabrics.
The vast diversity of culture spread throughout Indonesia is clearly shown through its selection of fabrics and available clothing styles. From high-end silks to quick and diverse fabrics, Jakarta is a great place for custom-made clothing, particularly in the area of exotic fabric designs. Batik, being the most famous, is material made from cotton or silk, painted with wax designed, then dyed with natural pigments. Itak is the art of dying patterns onto threads, then weaving them into a beautifully intricate fabric. Another variation is Songket, made by weaving metallic threads into fabrics. The cost to turn your favourite fabric into something specific is significantly cheaper—and far more authentic—than retail any options.
In Southeast Asia, purchasing custom-made clothes doesn’t have to be expensive or inaccessible. If you know where to go and what to look for, you can have exact replicas of the most popular designer pieces specially made to fit you. You also have the freedom to customise your own designs or copy tried and true favourites that have worn out. With the ability to choose the best fabrics and most stylish designs without having to pay designer prices, why not give custom clothing a try?