Updated: Feb 16
I was all hyped up when I first started researching for my trip to Hoi An, Vietnam as the UNESCO World Heritage Site is also known as the “Tailoring Capital of Vietnam”! If so, it must be a great place for fabric shopping, I thought. But, unfortunately, I soon realised from reviews on TripAdvisor and Seamstress Erin that the ‘cloth stores’ for Hoi An are not really into selling cloth, but clothes! Apparently, the cloth stores could earn more from making clothes and so the cost of buying the fabrics and the finished products would not differ much as the store owners were afraid that customers would buy the fabrics from them and get another tailor to make the clothes. That said, I was determined to check out the famed Cloth Market myself 😀
The Hoi An Cloth Market was pretty big! All the stores are contained in a building. The vibe is pretty much like the People Park’s Complex in Singapore, but a bit bigger and more spaced out. But, I must say fabric shopping there is a whole lot more stressful as the store owners would keep calling out to you to visit their stores and get your clothes made at their stores. Another down point is that the fabric selection was pretty disappointing. The prints there were just too flowery and dated for my liking. I guess the fact that I was looking out for fabrics for kids’ clothes didn’t help 😛 They do have a pretty huge selection of Vietnamese silk, but given that I wasn’t really sure that they were indeed silk, I decided not to take the risk 😛 In fact, the store owner could be telling you that it’s silk on one day and cotton on the next (I went to a shop twice on different occasions and I was told that the fabric was made of different materials ^_^) .
But, how can I leave Hoi An without any fabrics? 😛 I managed to find a pretty nice shopkeeper at store No. 7 of the Cloth Market.
She was one of those that didn’t come across as very pushy, and was very receptive to the fact that I was only buying fabric and not making any clothes from her. (She did try to pass off some rayon-blend fabrics as silk, even though it was clearly not silk, and also because she was only selling at $3 per meter!) She is also one of the few stores that carry knit fabrics. I ended up visiting and buying fabric from that store twice during my stay in Hoi An.
My loots from Hoi An.
As you can see from the photos, I was not terribly impressed with the prints and got mostly plain coloured fabrics – linens (the pink and purple ones), interlock knits (the grey one), lace (black one, but you can’t really see the lacy design from the photo :P) and rayon-cotton blend (the polka dots and the grey flowery ones ). The total damage is about $5 per meter on average. It’s probably not terribly good deal, and some of the fabrics could even be purchased at a cheaper price in Singapore, but I suppose the whole experience of fabric shopping in Hoi An is worth it 😛
And, since we were in the tailoring capital of Vietnam, my husband decided to get some shirts and pants tailored-made there 😀 I had found a list of recommended tailors prior to our visit, but since our hotel recommended Sun Tailor that was conveniently located near where we stayed, we thought we would just go with the recommendation. Plus, its reviews on tripadvisor were fairly decent.
The price quoted was fairly reasonable, less than $100 for 2 shirts and a pair of pants. The service at the shop was warm and friendly, without being overly pushy.
The end results were, however, a bit mixed. The pants turned out fine and only needed minor length alteration after the first try. The workmanship of the shirt was, however, lackluster (initially). They serged to finish the seams, which I found unacceptable for men’s shirt, but at least they quickly agreed to change the finishing to flat felled seam after I requested for it.
The image on the left shows how they finished the seam initially (this is not a photo of the actual shirt), and the image on the right shows the end product.
The print on the back bodice was also misaligned (it was slanted!) and they even tried to pass it off as the design of the print! They did re-do the entire piece after some examining of the cloth together.
Prints aligned. No photo of the misaligned one as I was worried that the seamstress wouldn’t be too happy with that.
Another (minor) problem I have with the shirts is that the stitch length appears to be a bit longer than those I’ve seen normally, and it’s particularly obvious around the collar.
The white one on the left is by CYC and the blue on done in Hoi An. Perhaps it’s not that apparent from the photos, but the stitch length on the blue one is longer, plus the topstitching around the collar is also more obvious.
So at the end of the day, I think for the price that we paid, the outcome is acceptable. I don’t think for the amount we are paying, we should expect top notch workmanship. Also, to get your clothes made in Hoi An, you should know what you want and it is probably best to bring along a shirt that you like (and is well-made) and request the tailor to imitate the sewing. That said, my sample size is but one shop, so the others in Hoi An might be better. Yaly Couture, one of the biggest custom made shops in Hoi An, did look quite fancy when we visited. So, maybe we’ll give that a try next time 😛
Besides getting your clothes custom-made, you can also consider getting your bags and shoes custom-made in Hoi An. Hah, everything is possible there 😛 We got a pair of shoes and bag done at the highly recommended Friendly Shoe Shop and are fairly pleased with the outcomes.
If you are not into shopping, there are also lots of other things to do in Hoi An, like spending some time at the glorious beaches, wandering around the picturesque and charming old town, going for a cooking class (we did ours at Thuan Thin Island Cooking Tour), checking out the local markets (one of the stores was selling cute little ducklings!) or cycling through the idyllic countryside on bikes.
We had a really great time in Hoi An! Do drop us a mail or comment if you need any help preparing for a trip there 😉 Do share your experiences (fabric/clothes shopping, eating, etc.) in Hoi An too 🙂