Hoi An has a reputation for being a tailoring mecca. See for yourself – type in “tailoring capital of the world” on the Google search bar and Hoi An will surely be in your top results. If you haven’t already added getting a tailor-made outfit to your itinerary, I’d recommend doing so because it will undoubtedly be worth your time and money, and it will be a great souvenir and memory to take back home with you.
The UNESCO World Heritage listed Ancient Town of Hoi An offers you a plethora of choices – tailor shops here outnumber all other businesses two to one. Most of these tailors are masters of their craft, and you can trace the trade through several generations of their family. However, competition between 200 shops in the tiny town alone, vying desperately for your attention, has given rise to numerous substandard practitioners producing below average work. It is important that you find a reputable tailor that will make you a perfect piece. The purpose of this guide is to help you make a more informed decision.
What Can I Get Made?
Your options are virtually limitless. These tailors are so adept with their fingers that you will be able to get suits, ball gowns, wedding dresses, winter coats, pajamas, high heels, boots, etc., of any size, style and fabric made. You can even have a favorite piece of clothing replicated. If you don’t have one, do some research beforehand about what you would like tailored and show them a picture. You can even simply choose a piece that suits your style from one of the catalogs you will find stacked on the tables. You can also make modifications to any of your existing clothes. If after exhausting all these options, you still have absolutely no idea what to get, you can turn to the tailors for their expert guidance. Don’t worry about communication issues, the reputable ones at least, will have English-speaking customer service.
How Does It Work?
Once you have an understanding of what it is you want, you will then decide on your fabric of choice from the wide array of options neatly folded and stacked on the shelves for display. If you are as clueless as I am when it comes to style, ask the tailors what they think. Then, after all the shop talk is done, you will be measured, and that’s basically it. If you plan to get a suit made, you may wanna follow up with this article: Finding A Good Tailor in Hoi An: An Exclusive with Bebe Tailors, that will give you an idea on all the things you need to consider before getting one made.
What’s cool about many Hoi An tailor shops is that you can ask for your garment to be made right there in front of you. Depending on what you get, you can leave, explore the magical city of Hoi An, and come back later. For a list of things to see in Hoi An, click here: What to Do If You Only Have One Day in Hoi An. There are also many cafés you can explore too, but a favorite haunt of mine that I must mention is Reaching Out café – a café run solely by the hearing and speech impaired, click here: Best Cafes in Hoi An. You order here by writing on a notepad, or you can use blocks that have words written on them. You’ll find blocks with “ice,” “milk,” “please,” and “thank you.” It’s a fantastic place to spend your time in silence and read a book or people-watch as you enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea.
Giving the tailor enough time to stitch your garment is essential to ensure good quality. Give it a day or two and then return for a fitting to see if any amendments are necessary. A final fitting to ensure your satisfaction is the final step before taking your clothes home. But don’t forget to pay! Most tailors are willing to come all the way to your hotel in Hoi An or even as far as Da Nang for fittings/delivery, and this is usually free of charge! If you are also pressed for time, you can get your final product delivered to you by mail, and if you are super-duper satisfied, you can even ask the tailor to retain your measurements and ask for them to make you something via call or email, continents apart. They will do it.
So, How Do You Choose The Right Tailor Shop?
Unfortunately, most tailor shops are not honest in their business and are looking to capitalize on the influx of tourists to this city in unethical ways. Due to the fierce competition, getting attention is not easy for many of them, especially for those with shops tucked in alleyways further out from the town center where not many tourists venture. They have resorted to employing whatever method they can to reel in potential customers. A popular one is to provide handsome commissions to hotels, restaurants, tour guides, taxi drivers, or even random individuals roaming the streets to advertise using word of mouth. Even the expat you had a drink with last night could be in on it! They’re everywhere! In a radius of four blocks, the average passerby will be approached at least four times by store owners and/or commission seekers. While personal recommendations can attest for the quality of a product or service in most cases, here you should be wary of who you trust.
That’s not all. Of course, some tailors are not as experienced as others. Quite a few use low-quality materials and have no quality control phase in their tailoring process. Some don’t even work on-site – they just take the measurements (probably incorrectly), and then outsource the sewing to mass garment factories. The creation of overworked sweatshops results from the demand for quickly assembled clothes. The tailors believe this is a cheap and fast solution. Not only will your money go towards businesses that operate unethically, but the piece you think is custom-made becomes just another mass-produced item, created with no care or concern for quality and detail.
It is important to remember that in Vietnam, you get what you pay for, which is why you should avoid tailor shops that advertise cheap prices. To escape all the hassle you may face, compare a few tailor shops on a few dimensions. Compare price, quality, fabrics used, styles they recommend, etc. You will be able to tell the experienced tailors apart.
Many tailor shops now have an internet presence. Rather than relying on word-of-mouth, why don’t you check for reviews online, like on TripAdvisor? Many travel bloggers also write about their experiences. Satisfied customers indicate the quality of service.
My Recommendation to You – The Best of The Best!
Only a few tailor shops are known for their intricate stitching and are constantly praised for their good work. One of these is Be Be Tailors. Despite having been around for only 9 years, the once a small mom and pop shop has now expanded into a three-store enterprise, or empire, if you will. The addresses for your reference are mentioned below.
Mrs. Bi started this business, a woman with over 25 years of tailoring experience, and a handful of her relatives familiar with the craft. To this day, more than half of the 160 individuals employed are her relatives. This is how she intends to keep running her business. The top quality, detailed work, the effort they put into customer satisfaction, and their unique style have contributed to the fast expansion of the business. They even have an on-site designer who specializes in Asian fusion designs mixed with a bit of Hoi An’s flare. Their original designs are showcased on mannequins at the front of the shop.
Be Be is not only known for their top-quality work and unique style, but also for their transparency between the customer and the business. In the back of their flagship store, Be Be 1 at Hoang Dieu street, is their on-site factory, partitioned only by a glass window. You can witness what goes on behind the scenes.
If you would like, tour their on-site factory – you need only ask. They even do charity work, giving back as part of their “Be Be in the Community” initiative. Projects that they are involved in currently are “The Kianh Foundation” and “Sapa Kids.” The main reason Be Be Tailors outshines the rest is their team of 15 personnel comprising their quality control division. According to Guy Sainsbury, their head of customer relations, the product goes through three quality control systems before it gets out. It doesn’t get any better than that.
They have a stellar internet presence as well. Their TripAdvisor page is only three reviews short of 3,000 and almost all are excellent. Any negative reviews, they address directly. This is what Guy has to say about it: “When someone looks at TripAdvisor reviews, they always go to the 5-star reviews, then straight to the 1-star review to see how issues are being dealt with. We’re very conscious about that. We’re not even deterred by those negative reviews so long as we do something immediately about it, i.e, getting in touch with the customer, change whatever needs to be changed, give them a refund, etc. Whatever it is, as long as we’ve taken the time to apologize and address the needs, that is the most important thing.” This is true and you can check BeBe’s TripAdvisor page yourself. They’ve even gone as far as paying for an unhappy customer to send back their item and stitch on a new button in replacement for one that had come off. Just one button. How often do you experience top notch customer service like that?
If Guy hasn’t convinced you, maybe this will do the trick. Be Be has been recognized for their hard work by various TV shows and magazines. Recently, Channel 7 Australia filmed a segment called Luxury Escapes and Be Be was a big part of it. Merian, a German travel magazine, even featured them as part of a special on Vietnam. Clearly, they’re making a big name for themselves. Check out this following video:
(Source: Channel 7 Australia, Igloo Media)
Have I convinced you yet? Here is what you should expect when you walk in. If you don’t know what you want, the staff will sit down with you, iPad in hand. The design process, according to Guy, normally takes about 30 minutes to an hour depending on design. 12 to 24 hours later, you will be asked to come in for your first fitting. A second fitting may be necessary once the first amendments are made. Sometimes even a third fitting is necessary. Once that is done, your finalized product will be delivered to your hotel, free of charge. If you want a beer with your outfit, they will deliver that too.
Be Be really cares about customer satisfaction. We enjoy their services so much that at Christina’s we offer 10% discount cards for guests to take advantage of. They are our most trusted partner and Christina’s exclusively offers these cards. Make sure to pick yours up!
Addresses of BeBe:
- Flagship store (Bebe 1) – 11 Hoang Dieu Street
- Bebe 2 – 95 Phan Chau Trinh Street
- Bebe 3 – 40 Tran Hung Dao Street
Enjoyed this article and want more information on fun things to do, see and eat in Vietnam? Follow us at the Christina’s blog.
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