Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo by Andrew Ingersoll
We are lucky to have the ability to whisk off to any corner of the globe more or less whenever we’d like. I am grateful for this ability and try to take advantage of local goods and services whenever I can.
My height has never been a mystery. At 6’5,” or 196cm, it is tough to find clothes long enough in the sleeves or legs and slim enough not to give the appearance of a tent.
A good friend of mine with Chinese heritage freely shared her numerous positive experiences in purchasing designer scrap material in consignment outlets in New York’s Fashion District then taking them with her to the family tailor in China.
Knowing my father, I can appreciate the fact that the middle-age-male demographic may not appreciate designer labels and tailoring. However, hear me out. For those of you who are clothes conscious, you’ll like this idea.
The next time you or someone special in your life needs a new garment, head over to Asia for a tailoring trip. Sound ridiculous? Well, I thought Rick going to San Francisco for Chinese food was ridiculous!
Hoi An, Vietnam is a well known tailoring mecca. The small seaside town is booming with friendly faces, good Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) and eager tailors. Three days is ideal, insuring that you will get the most out of your tailoring.
Day one, ask around for a good tailor and you’ll get any number of responses. I went to Yaly in the main street near the riverfront. You’ll be greeted by friendly faces and countless catalogs. Simply flip through until you find something you’d like. Once ready, politely signal one of the staff that you’re ready to choose your fabric. I was taken upstairs where I discovered wall upon wall of fabrics. Choose your colors and textures, get measured, and you’re halfway finished.
Day two, after a nice warm baguette, head back to the tailor for your assigned fitting time. You’ll get to try on your clothes, adjustments will be made, and you’ll be on your way to the beach for a relaxing lounge along the South China Sea.
Day three, pick up your tailor-made clothes and marvel at the frugal prices. I purchased five button-down dress shirts and a pair of jeans for under $150. Keep in mind my size and shape. It was the first time in my life I had clothes that fit as they should!
When the time came for me to trade in my nursing scrubs for office attire, I went to Kuala Lumpur and found Alvin. Alvin is my Chinese Malaysian tailor. He and his wife own La Fiano Tailors in Bukit Bintang. Alvin successfully made me a three-piece pinstripe suit from scratch, with my input into the design process, for around $250USD.
Alvin saved my measurements, so when I emailed him some photos of some slacks I was interested in, sure enough he delivered three pairs of slacks with perfect fit. Price per pair: $50USD.
Again, I know some of you may find this completely boring and a waste of time. But for those of you interested in tailoring, the next time you’re in Asia find a family-run business and invest in them directly, versus Gap or any other department store. It’s nice knowing my money went directly to the source and not to a big corporation. Plus, when someone comments on your clothes, it’s kinda cool to say you designed them yourself while traveling Asia.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport is a well serviced by all Alliances, with AirAsia dominating the Low Cost Carrier Terminal to provide ridiculously frugal flights to Southeast Asian cities and beyond.
Hoi An is a bit trickier, but DaNang Airport is within an hour and is serviced by Vietnam Airlines as well as the low-cost carrier JetStar.