Stop Shopping and Start Tailoring

Typical tailor shop
How many times have you talked yourself into buying something less than perfect? You justified the purchase because it was the latest trend or you loved the fabric or color, but then it hangs forlornly in your closet waiting to be worn. Let’s face it; you are never going to wear it because it just doesn’t fit well. Oh, it might fit well in the butt, but be too big in the waist or it’s a great color, but it’s too tight.

Free yourself from the frustration by going to a tailor!

Want to combine your two favorite pastimes, shopping and traveling? Plan a trip to the Far East. Asia has long been known for a wide selection of tailors as well as stunning spas and resorts, so plan to combine both. Traditionally the bastions of fine tailoring have been located in Hong Kong and Thailand, but mainland China is starting to increase its share of the custom market. This makes sense as many of the people who do the actual sewing in Thai tailor shops are of Chinese origin. Due to the fact that many flights to Asian destinations pass through Bangkok, this is an easy way to delve into the world of custom tailoring.

You cannot walk down the street in Thailand without passing a tailor shop. The abundance of tailor shops makes finding a tailor seem like an easy task, but the sheer volume of choices can create difficulty.

So how do you find a good tailor?

It’s not a good idea to just walk into the first promising shop as once inside the storeowners are well versed in how to seduce a potential customer. Do your homework before landing. Research the Internet for customer reviews and search for articles in the finest travel magazines recommending certain shops. Avoid the shops that have signs plastered on them advertising 2 suits and 5 blouses all for some ridiculously low sum. The choice of fabrics will be poorer, the styles outdated and the quality will be low.

Also, never let a tuk tuk or taxi driver take you to a tailor, they are getting a good commission for doing so and don’t have your best interest at heart. Finding a tailor who can do women’s clothing well is the hardest part. You can visit some of the best known tailors in the city who can make a fabulous men’s suit for your husband or boyfriend yet be disappointed in the one they made for you. Most tailors in Bangkok are geared towards men’s clothes. A few of the most reputable ones will steer you away, but most will accept your business with less than satisfying results. Let’s face it; women’s bodies are vastly different than men’s. Our beautiful curves mean the tailor needs to be really practiced to get a great fit all the way through.

The first tailor I visited in Bangkok was proof of this. I had even brought two blouses I owned so all they had to do was make copies as opposed to taking my measurements and creating the shirts from scratch. Even with a blouse to work from, when I tried one of the shirts on it didn’t fit well even considering it was simply a copy of the original shirt. Fast-forward to three more visits each time sending the shirt back for more work. It just never fit right. To the tailors’ credit they only charged me for the two other blouses that were ok and even gave me the one that didn’t fit without charging me.

Therefore, I set out to investigate another shop where a website customer post mentioned they were great at women’s clothes. The shop is called Nickermann’s and it is located in the basement level of the Landmark hotel right at the Nana Sky Train station stop and convenient to all parts of the city. Despite the fact that there were male customers there it was clear that Dee, the owner, understands women. After being offered the ubiquitous beverage I sat on the sofa and browsed some of the latest catalogs from Joan and David, Escada etc. Dee is very honest about what styles would flatter and also knows a lot about fabrics. She will show you the difference in quality or explain why a dress style won’t work well with a certain type of fabric. The interaction creates a sense of luxury as much as the finished clothes do. Having someone completely focused on you for a period of time is similar to when women get married and it’s all about the bride during the wedding.

Frustrated by my previous inability to get a great fit from clothes off the rack I hadn’t invested in any nice clothes in years and I quickly became a Nickermann’s addict. Getting a piece of clothing custom made was as much of a therapeutic experience for me as getting a massage or my hair done. My closet is proof of that. So is my confidence that I look great in my clothes – I should as they were made just for me!

A few final tips: In order to get the perfect fit, you will need to make sure you have enough time in your vacation schedule for a first fitting and then some additional alterations as needed. A smart strategy would be to fly into Bangkok, visit the tailor and see the Grand Palace and other city sites, and have your first fitting. Then head off to a great resort town like Phuket or Samui visiting beautiful beaches and having spa treatments. Or you can even fly to one of Thailand’s neighbors such as Laos or Cambodia for a week. On your way back out of Bangkok you can pick up your new clothes or arrange someone to bring them to the airport if you are only transferring through. Another method is to bring a favorite item of clothing you own that already fits great and ask them to copy it, which will speed up the process a little.

The best thing of all is that they will keep your measurements on file. Once you get back home and everyone compliments you on your flattering clothes you can order more and have them shipped to you. Isn’t that a lot more luxurious than fighting for a parking space and standing under a harsh fluorescent light bulb while you tug at a piece of clothing that doesn’t fit?

Posted by Kendra Redman on February 04, 2008 in Shopping

Comments (14)

  1. Minty
    Minty says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you Kendra!!

    I’m quite amazed at how addicted I got to tailoring clothes for myself too..I didn’t get any at Nickermann’s however, but I’m sure I understand how you feel. In case no one can find Nickermann’s, the tailor I was very happy with was Crown Tailors inside of Sukhumvit soi 8. They’re the 4th or maybe 5th shop down. Quite simply, very happy!

  2. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Hi, thanks for the useful article, will be flying to Bangkok soon myself, so this was an informative read.

    Is it true that custom tailors are able to create outfits solely from photos? And with the lower end tailors (will be travelling on a budget, so will probably not be able to afford Nickermann’s) I hear it’s entirely possible to get a Gucci-lookalike dress for USD30. Any idea if that’s true?

    Thanks for your help! (:

  3. frances
    frances says:

    What a lovely post, very informative, I was in Bangkok in June 2008 and tried a few tailors near the Asok Sky train station, If you are close to Sukhumvit road you must try Moonriver by VJ…
    I had 2 suits and a dress done, very informative and good quality at a fraction of the price at home for Tailoring.
    I also had them send me 3 pairs of trousers to me in September to my home, very satisfied and will definitely use them for my future tailoring needs.

  4. Matt
    Matt says:

    looking to suit yourself with a good tailor? think of it in this way, WILL NOT GET MORE THAN WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
    Stop looking for a 1000 USD suit for 100 USD,you will never get it. if you pay 100 usd you get a cheap suit that looks like 50 USD.
    there are many tailors in Bangkok and 80 to 90 percent are dealing with tourists, the outsource the job to sweatshops on the sidestreet and come up with cheap imitation.
    Usually the Good Tailors Have there own workshop in there premises, I would recommend only the tailors who have in-house tailors,
    try some and decide for yourself. DINO, MOON RIVER , and Tanika, my favorite is the Moonriver, very high Quality and reasonable prices,(mind you not cheap prices)

  5. snith
    snith says:

    I don’t know about your suits but I was taken to James Fashion by a Tuk tuk! yes – a tuk tuk! but eventually didn’t land up buying from them as I had read several “tailor scams” online before.

    Anyways, regarding your tips, excellent. Do your research. Hit the tailors who are reputable. The one that I landed up using was Tailor Pro, located in bangkok 5 star hotel,Somerset lake point sukhumvit soi 16.

  6. Fraenzi
    Fraenzi says:

    A great laudatio on Nickerman’s. They are not known to be as generous as described by you. Nor are they known to admit to their mistakes.

  7. George
    George says:

    A very good fabric selection and good workmanship at Excelsior opp Le meridien Hotel Bangkok.Can try this shop too. I have recommended many friends and expats who work in Thailand and most of them have been happy with the service and quality.

  8. Avia
    Avia says:

    I am trying to find Dee’s number. Dee is a tailor at the Lanmark hotel in Bangkok. Does anyone have. She is a great tailor and have several suits and dresses made by her. I need to contact her.

  9. manny
    manny says:

    There are many tailors all over sukhumvit road, you need to check them out yourselves,
    One good way to start is to
    – First eliminate the shops which have people standing outside to call you in.
    – Good shops are closer to the Asok station . the shops on Nana station are more for cheap tourists, with lousy finishing.
    – look for shops which have their own factory the tailoring will definitely be better.
    – A taxi or Tuk Tuk driver does not use tailors… if he takes you there he is getting 30 percent commission.
    – All travel agents also get 30 percent commission.

  10. Brian Crossin
    Brian Crossin says:

    I had a suit ,sports coat, two pairs of trousers, and three shirts made by Nickermans. My Wife had a suit and matching shoes made. They were all perfect (and I am very difficult to please) My Wife’s suit was sent on to us in Phuket two days later. No problems.

  11. Nina
    Nina says:

    Nice piece of advise. Its a little different for me though….I had tried out 3 tailors during my stay overhere in Bangkok over a period of 14 months and have figured out that best womens tailor among them was Jhasper Fashion in Sukhumvit 11. Workmanship & fit was beautiful. Especially the fit that I got from the lady there (she really has the skills and knack on tailoring womens clothes), I tend to now wear clothes that are made from this place as it makes me feel more confident and good looking :) Hope this helps.

  12. honneblue
    honneblue says:

    We are back in Holland for a couple of months now since the last time we visit Bangkok and wear and wash our new clothes weekly. We have no complains at all. The sewing is good and so does the fabric.
    We go to the same shop for almost 8 years now so we know what we can expect and we were never disappointed. We can recommend you to go Narry and Aron(Savile Row)118 inside rose hotel on Suriwong Road. They will not disappoint you too. Have a great time in Bangkok

  13. teratouva
    teratouva says:

    We are a couple from Finland and have been recommended to Excelsior.
    Love the place with all exotic fabrics and many designs to choose.
    I will surely get back to make more suits when i am in Bangkok.
    We didnt pay much attention to the offer of 2 suits 10 shirts @ 100 dollars.
    We were told to avoid those shops since the deals are impossible and we paid 2 suits at 500 Dollars at Excelsior in Superior quality wool.
    Have a great Fit.

  14. Marc
    Marc says:

    this is good to know about the pre information for buying a custom suit from these asian country.i too have experinced due to frequent visits to some of these countries.you need to be careful about the fabric and actual display of colors in different lights.last but not least the collars and cuffs do matter to a perfect custom suit to a gret extent. sharing my experience with all of you i would say that i have been rather lucky to have found a matching custom tailor for me in bangkok. Tailor Pro inside somerset lake point services are truely matching with the above mentioned informations.and i would suggest all the readers and my friends also to get them for custom suits at http://www.tailorpros.comwhich provides a complete platform for custom suits and custom shirt,and convenient payment options and delivery give the best value to our money.

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