How to Get Cheap Custom Suits Made in Southeast Asia

I love getting custom-made suits done in Southeast Asia. I’ve done it multiple times in Thailand. Labor is cheap, skill level is high, and competition is intense.

That translates into a great opportunity for consumers. But it isn’t the same opportunity that many think it is.

  • Tailor shops will make clothes for you in whatever time you have. But if you don’t have 4-5 days you probably aren’t really getting custom-made. Suits aren’t being properly made for you in a day.
  • Suits are cheap but they aren’t dirt cheap if you want quality. Don’t buy a suit with shirt and tie thrown in for $99. It’s going to be a $99 suit, and more or less wastes your time getting it and the opportunity foregone for something better. Expect to pay for quality — while labor is cheap, good materials won’t necessarily be.

I’d expect to pay ~ $300 for a good quality suit in Thailand. Hong Kong will be more expensive.

The biggest challenge is knowing where to go, whom to trust. Most of us aren’t experts in suits. And you can’t always trust recommendations — you don’t know who is writing online most of the time, the online review could be out of date, a hotel concierge could be getting something in return for the recommendation.

I generally take a recommendation, hopefully more than one, and then make clear at the shop that I’ve been through the process before. I know I’m going to pay for quality, I’m probably not going to get the very best price I could (I’m going to get ‘taken’) but it’s still going to be a great price for a great suit compared to what I’d be able to buy at home.

I also make sure to have enough time to go in for a first fitting (where I’ll pick design and materials), a second fitting, and a final fitting. Many tailor shops will come to you for the second and the third (remember, labor is cheap).

And at each stage I will insist on whatever changes I need. The suit should be perfect. And you shouldn’t pay until the job is done. That keeps the tailor incentivized to get things right.

Always keep contact information for the tailor shop, they’ll keep your measurements on file. Three years ago I had three suits made (with second set of slacks each) in Phuket. One suit had threads begin to bunch after a couple of dry cleanings. The tailor shop acknowledged they had other reports of problems with the material of that suit, and they sent me a replacement that was a close approximation of the material. Separately I realized it had been a very, very long time since I had gotten my tuxedo and it no longer fit right… so I emailed, negotiated price, and received a new tux in the mail. A perfect fit, and at a better price than I would have paid at home.

A trustworthy tailor that expects repeat business is a very valuable thing indeed. So when you have a good experience, write about it so others may benefit.

Fly and Dine got suits made in Hong Kong recently and offers his rules for buying custom-made suits in Asia.

Rule #1: Don’t get anything made if you don’t have the time for multiple fittings.

Rule #2: Don’t base your choice of tailor off of one blog post.

Rule #3: You will get what you pay for, even if you’re getting ripped off.

Rule #4: When you feel like you’re getting so much “Sales Speak” that it feels like you’re buying a used car, walk away.

Rule #5: Insist that the person you first dealt with will be the one you always deal with.

Rule #6: Know the right questions to ask.

Rule #7: Don’t accept the final product if you’re not satisfied.

Each of his rules gets a longer discussion in the post.

A visit to Southeast Asia is a great opportunity for custom-made clothes — for me and for women, bring your ideas, they’ll usually be able to make most anything you wish.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s prom season. My friend & her daughter used to bring their pick of fabrics (better quality and choices), along with catalog pictures to get custom fitted prom/dance dresses in Vietnam.

  2. Gary, are you willing to name names for BKK or HKT? Will be in both for 5 days later this year. Passed on HKG earlier this year because I only stopping over for a few days. But my suits are getting ratty!

  3. @CW In Phuket I used Manhattan Tailors (and wrote highly of them and with contact info on this blog). That was 3 years ago though so I cannot vouch for the continuing validity of the recommendation.

  4. @CW In Bangkok I can recommend Rajawongse Clothiers. They’re not cheap but the suit and shirt quality was better than what I was buying in the US (DG and Thomas Pink respectively.)

  5. I go to the fabric market in Shanghai, pay 800RMB (~$120) a suit with 2 pairs of slacks. Quality has been very good, but not top notch.
    The first trip, i was able to get 2 fittings, and since the fit was good and time limited on subsequent trips, I get measured and have them send me the suits ($100 shipping for 3 suits+12 shirts*, I am fine with 3 weeks later, but probably a rip)

    *I go to a separate stall for shirts at 120RMB (~$18). Typically don’t bother with a fitting since they are cheap and generally fit well. Have 30+ of these, they have held up pretty well, though a few developed pit stains early and one had some bad material where colors ran.

    Would have to look up the stall #’s, off the top of my head its like 261 for suits and 375 for shirts
    Will definitely follow this thread for other recommendations in SEA

  6. AFAIK I’m not aware of any tailors in Bangkok doing a true full floating canvas suit, though my favorite experience there is “Tailor on Ten.” There’s a Canadian ex-pat guy there running the show, so it’s easier to talk to him about different things, ask questions, get opinions, etc as he’s fairly familiar with Western style. Then, his team of “local talent” actually does the work.

    WW Chan in Hong Kong will do a full floating canvas suit for about $1000 depending on fabric, and IMO that’s actually probably the best deal out there relative to the “retail cost,” which would be north of 4 or 5 thousand in London/Naples/etc.

    You can get a fully custom fused/glued (i.e. not hand sewn) at home in the neighborhood of 5-7 hundred bucks. Yes, ~250/300 is a good deal compared to home, but it’s not a reason to go to Asia.

    Also, I’ve yet to find a place that won’t make you pay at least a deposit when you go for your first fitting. As they’re cutting fabric for you, they need to ensure that, at a minimum, they aren’t losing money.

  7. If you are willing to spend $300+ for a suit in Thailand, why not buy one from London that isn’t entirely custom, but of the very highest quality? I can buy a great suit for $400 or less on Jermyn Street at several shops. Not to mention I don’t have to listen to the hawking…

  8. @AAExPlat: if you are paying $400 for s suit at Jermyn Street in London you are probably getting one that was made in Thailand, Vietnam or China. There is no way you can get a UK made suit with high quality fabric for $400 at Jermyn St.

    I got a very good suit made in Vietnam. Since I did not have time to try many times I left a tailor made suit I had with me at the store and they basically copied the suit into a new one. I tried it once and they made quick adjustments before delivery.

  9. Peter Devlin: Yes, please name names in KL and SIN! Have a trip there later in the year.

    Erich: I have had nothing but garbage turned out of the Fabric Market in Shanghai, suits that don’t fit well, little details missing (no cuffs when ordered) and of the 4-5 suits I’ve had made there, only one is still in my closet (and that one is fine: light fabric summer suit, fits relatively well). Shirts have all been fine, but not long-lasting. I like HKG better.

  10. Santastico: Where do you shop on Jermyn St in London? Name some names; I’ve bought one suit there that was good, but it wasn’t $400– it was more like $900, and not made to order but on the rack. If you’ve got some good places, I’d go look next time I’m there, probably later this year.

  11. SST: Jermyn St in London is well known for shirt makers but the place for suits in London is Savile Row in Mayfair. The problem is that to have a tailor made suit in London using high quality fabric you will pay way more than $900. Labor is very expensive, quality fabric is expensive and you will also pay for the name of the tailor which has been there for several generations. Some well-known names are: Gieves and Hawkes, Bernard Weatherill, Anderson & Sheppard, Bernard Weatherill, Cad & the Dandy.
    For shirts at Jermyn St you can try Turnbull&Asser, Hilditch&Key, Davies&Son, Harvie&Hudson, Norton&Sons. For more affordable shirts (not tailor made) you can try Thomas Pink, Hawes&Curtis, Charles Tyrwhitt.
    I really like suits and shirts from England but you also get amazing stuff in Italy. There are several suit and shirt makers in Milan and Naples that deliver the best of the best.
    Tailor business in Asia is usually a scam. If you are getting two suits and four shirts for $500 you cannot have high expectations. You cannot expect they are offering you a high quality Italian or English fabric for that price.

  12. I can definitely recommend Sams Tailor in Hong Kong. Anyone doing research will no doubt have heard about him as he is kind of a destination there with many presidents and famous people.

    The prices were good but not dirt cheap which is a good thing. They outsource a lot of the sewing to Shenzhen I think but the construction looks very good. I think of it as 80% of top quality for 20% of the price. Plus is is 2 blocks from the TST Hyatt Regency.

    Another one for TOP quality is something Chan. The prices are almost at Saville Row prices but the quality is the same as that.

  13. Jeff as far as I know you don’t get a shirt tailor made at Thomas Pink even in the UK. Mike if you have never had a good quality suit made to measure then sure you can buy cap anywhere. Gary ‘s point was there is good value out there I.e. $400 vs $1500

  14. Can anyone comment on shirt pricing and number of fittings required? I have 4 days in Phuket coming up this fall and while I don’t need a full suit, picking up some inexpensive tailored shirts would be great.

  15. SST
    KL – Vincent Tailor 2nd floor AmCorp Mall Ph. 60379571923.
    KL – Bespoked by Ian Chang – 1Utama Shopping Centre at the One World Hotel exit. Does great shirts
    Singapore – Roy’s Master Tailor 3rd floor Holland Road Shopping Centre in Holland Village. +65 6467 9285. I’ve had shirts, suits and a tux made here. Super linen suits and shirt options.

  16. I’m not going to spend $5000 on a suit.

    I’m not going to spend $1500 on a suit.

    But I’ll spend $400 on a suit when I am in Thailand anyway.

    And I’ll get much more for that $400 than I will in the U.S.

    Could I be better dressed? Absolutely. Could I pay more attention to the nuance of such things? Definitely. Is that high on my life priorities list? Not especially.

    I bet there are a lot of people like me, who see real value in what you can get at this price point, and the Fly & Dine post stayed open on my screen for awhile and I shared my own modest thoughts and experiences.

    I VERY MUCH VALUE THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF READERS IN THE COMMENTS HERE!

  17. Jason: Shirts are easy, no fittings required as a rule, and keep your order sheet to have new ones made and sent. The trick, however, is to find someone who makes GOOD ones, ones that last, have quality fabric, shrinkage details over time, etc. Make sure you know all the details you want (collar stays, cuff style, collar style, # of buttons, pocket or no, etc.). Get some made a couple places. Keep track. Then may the best place win. (Win your future business).

    Thanks to all for this post.

  18. @Gary: Well said. It is all about keeping your expectations aligned to the value you are paying for. I have a suit made in Vietnam while I was there and I paid probably $300 for it. Is it comparable to the one I paid $1500? No way. However, it matches what I expected for a $400 tailor made suit and I am happy with that. Same for shirts. It all depends when and where you are going to wear them.

  19. Justin and others,

    I’m visiting Thailand for a few weeks in November and want to get some fully canvassed suits (conservative, lightweight/summer, and a tuxedo) and a few shirts. Do I need to go to HK, or can this be done in Thailand w/o compromising quality? Would you recommend I bring my own fabric, or are there decent options on high-quality fabric?

    TIA

  20. @Santastico.

    If you read my post carefully, you’ll note I don’t buy custom suits on Jermyn Street. I am referring to “off the rack”. I just bought a $400 (not GBP…but USD) slim fit suit from Charles Tyrwhitt that is made from Super 110s twill. That is incredible value. And maybe I am just lucky, but the suit fits outrageously well.

    I have owned Loro Piana suits that have fit worse and cost multiples…

  21. Anyone know of a good place in Koh Samui? I have 4 nights there this Aug, is that enough time?

    Thanks!

  22. I’ve had several suits and sport jackets made in Thailand and Hong Kong. You must beware and knowledgeable about fabric and contraction quality.
    There are some recommendations here: http://askandyaboutclothes.com/category/product-reviews/custom-bespoke-clothing-product-reviews/
    Best to study the Suit Chapter of my book, The Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothes (http://askandyaboutclothes.com/product/the-encyclopedia-of-mens-clothing/ )
    Hong Kong tailors are generally better skilled than Thailand tailors and can obtain higher quality fabric.
    It’s wise to take a suit that fits well and has the features you like. Know what you want in the type of lapel and width, vents, pockets, buttons, working sleeve buttons are a must, and inside pockets.
    Andy Gilchrist
    Author of The Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothes
    http://www.AskAndyAboutClothes.com

  23. Although my new job no longer requires a suit (or any clothing at all, for that matter–er, that came out wrong), I still remain extremely satisfied with the two suits I bought from Neramit Tailors in Chiang Mai. He’s universally highly regarded, and many reviews I’ve seen all over the Internet call him the best tailor in Thailand. I paid about $250ish per suit for two in 2008; I’m sure it’s a bit more now.

  24. @Jason

    I am not personally aware of anyone doing fully canvassed suits in Bangkok, though I’m sure they must exist. The place the Four Seasons Hotel sent me was nearby–Peninsula Tailor–and they were able to turn around a great suit in a week for about $700, but it’s not fully canvassed. Tailor on Ten has similar price point for their top end fabrics. Suits from both do fit extremely well, and I’m happy with them for what they are. Suits from both places have held up very well over the past 4+ years.

    However, at that price point, you’re probably just as well off shopping eBay for a [new] ISAIA, Oxxford, Brioni, etc and having your local bespoke tailor customize it for you.

  25. Hey, look who posted! As a satisfied purchaser of Andy’s encyclopedia on men’s clothing (I even used it to facilitate development of a revised dress code at my previous employer), it puts a smile on my face to see he follows Gary’s blog–Andy, are you into the frequent flyer scene at all?

  26. My wife used to work for the government and many of her coworkers went to Rajas Fashions in Bangkok. On our first trip there I had two suits made and several shirts. I was so happy that I returned there on our next trip to Thailand and had another suit made with several more shirts. I don’t wear any button down shirts (or suits) that aren’t custom made; I’m totally spoiled. And folks immediately noticed the difference. I wish I could buy off the rack, but I’m not tall so it’s hard to find a suit which fits me..and if I alter an off the rack suit (and have a proper tailor do it) I’m going to be basically reconstructing the suit. So Rajas was the perfect place for me. And I can send him my requests and have new clothes sent to me (provided I don’t gain or lose too much weight).

    I’m not an expert on quality of materials, but have enough friends (who are well versed) and they were quite impressed. I do agree with Gary…make sure you have time to make several visits. A suit in a day is not going to get you good results. And I think we were in the $300-400 range for the suit if I recall correctly.

    Bobby is the person who helps us there, but of course everyone is helpful. And Bobby remembers everyone…even after several years. It’s quite amazing.

    http://www.rajasfashions.com/

  27. I had 4 suits made at” Lo Wu City” in Shenzhen 4 years ago for about $100 US$ each. The quality and workmanship is average. The trick is to know someone from Hong Kong who know Taylor there so you don’t get ripped off.
    foreigner going there by themselves should know how to bargain. They may start at $300-400.

    If you ordered it from Hong Kong, most of the work are still done in China.

  28. You get what you pay for- in Hong Kong, Sam’s Tailor Shop on Nathan Road in Kowloon is one of the best and in Singapore, I’d recommend Prince Tailors near the Grand Hyatt on Scott Road. Thailand? Wouldn’t bother.

  29. I usually have shirts and pants tailored while traveling in Asia. The off the rack sizes in the US stores are either way to baggy or the slim fit athletic cut that fits the body has a neck size too small. The quality really varies. Crown Tailor in Bangkok was pretty good. Star Tailor in the Panwa Area in Phuket is bad. The shirts from Star Tailor were stiff even after a couple washes the the fabric is started to pill. The quality from JJ Tailor in Kowloon, HK was top notch

  30. Keep in mind that if you purchase your suit in Hong Kong and don’t have enough time to pick it up or need extras you can’t have it shipped into the USA. All other countries for the custom suits seem to be OK

    ————–

    The Quota program is generally applied only to commercial importations. While the importation of many goods imported under “personal use” quantities are not affected by quota restrictions, there is one exception; made-to-measure suits made in Hong Kong, which are restricted for both personal and commercial use.

    ————-

    http://www.cbp.gov/trade/basic-import-export/internet-purchases

  31. Clothing in Bangkok can be a hit and a miss. I’ve had numerous friends come back with horror stories about where they’ve been for suits, and at the same time, other’s who have had an awesome experience. I took a bite at it and based on Trip Advisor’s recommendation, went to the top 6 tailors listed.

    Coincidentally enough, all are within a 10 min walk of each other.

    4 out of 6 of them were around the same price points, while 2 were either cheaper than the rest or more expensive than the rest, so I decided to stick with the 4. After a half day of entering each shop, looking around and finalizing specs, I decided on Crown Tailors. I had 2 suits, 2 pants and 4 shirts made up. Suits were around $300 and shirts at around $50.

    I had 3 fittings done, and everything turned out just the way I wanted. Working cuffs, skinny notch lapels, slanted ticket pocket, flat fronts, one break on pants etc etc.

    Highly recommended by my standards.

  32. With less than 48 hours in Bangkok we were referred to TailorPro by our concierge. The best recommendation EVER. This shop is packed with upscale customers and staff members swarm over each one: measuring, selecting fabrics, re-measuring for last minute fits, etc. People walked in who were obviously multi-repeat customers- all recognized and acknowledged. As first timers we met Aron who guided us thru this experience. He is a wonderful person full of energy and brimming with knowledge. We came on a Wednesday afternoon and said we were leaving Bangkok on Friday at 10 am. Can my wife get a suit in time. “Don’t worry, we do this all of the time”. We selected a beautiful light weight blue fabric, we are from Miami, and my wife got measured. He asked us to come back in two hours. Well what do we do for two hours . Importantly we were made to feel comfortable, at ease with the process and liked the staff we met. Do we recommend this establishment….YES! We will return!

  33. I had tailoring experiences in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh. It was my 1st in Chiang Mai and it was a pleasant surprise. Superb quality, fine worksmanship and honestly quick, done 4 dress shirt in less than 24 hours. AMBASSADOR FASHIONS got it right the 1st time and I only had to collect from hotel lobby. Fits well in the comfort of my hotel room. I will definitely order more clothes online in the future.

  34. I am living in Singapore and I’ve bought horrible suits here though I know there are good tailors around. So buying a suit from Hong Kong or London doesn’t mean you will receive a knock off suit. I’ve been to several recommended tailors listed forums, TripAdvisor and blogs and travel magazines but frankly, many are seriously overrated. I guess most are written by people who do not understand suits.

    My highly recommended tailor is Vanda Tailors in Vietnam. They really go through in detail and guide me into knowing what I am going to receive. Many tailors in Asia simply don’t go into such details with you. http://www.vandatailors.com/quality.html. Most importantly, I love the shirts and suits I made. Several of my friends who are knowledgable about suits think I got a good deal too.

    What I learned is this. You need to ask the tailor “Why is your quality better” If they mention nothing much about the workmanship and construction, chances are that tailor is a ripoff.
    So here are my recommendations after learning about tailoring in asia the hard way.
    Vietnam: http://www.vandatailors.com
    HongKong: http://rajafashions.com/

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