‘Made in Vietnam” are three very common words that you will find on the labels inside many of the clothes that you wear in your day to day lives. North Face, Nike, Mango, Zara are some of the brands that have decided to use Vietnam for their large scale clothing manufacture processes.
There are no shortage of these and other famous ‘brands’ for sale in the markets – the vast majority of these are of course fakes but apparently you can be lucky and find genuine products that make it out of the factory through the back door for a fraction of what they cost normally.
Whilst in Hoi An you do see this hawking of supposedly bargain brands (mainly dodgy looking North Face stuff), the town is instead famous for a slightly different take on how to get money off people for clothes. I don’t think we have ever seen such a concentration of tailors anywhere else in the world (and that includes the backpacker area of Bangkok).
It seems that 3 out of every 4 shops is either a tailor or a shoe shop that can make you anything you want, made to measure, in as little as 24 hours. There a range of designs available, plus whatever you can pick out of the latest Next catalogue, anything you can find on the web, or even something you want to design yourself. As one place advertises, the only limit is your mind.
As with everything, the price and quality will very from shop to shop, with some showcasing very shabby looking suits in their windows. However after spending a bit of time walking round, and doing some research on our faithful friend Trip Advisor we decide to take the plunge.
Nik gets a couple of pair of shoes made (one fairly standard, one more a self selected design) and a skirt (complete with custom hand painted logo) and I decide that with the shadow of work looming at some point in the future that I would risk a suit.
A visit to Mr Xe is an experience. A flamboyantly gay man, who perhaps enjoys the measuring and fitting process more than he should, is supported by a team of 6 that make on average 7 suits a day. The fabric on offer appears to be of a high standard (based on what little I know of the subject from the recent wedding suit process) and the finished product looked great, fitted exceptionally well and costs less than the cheapest of cheap suits that you can buy from George in Asda (plus he through in a free shirt).
We read stories on the internet of people coming to Hoi An with empty suitcases and a bag of magazines of things they wanted making, and returning home with 40kg of clothes and a new wardrobe. Even accounting for the fact our purchases (plus a few other bits and pieces we have picked up in S.E.Asia so far) meant that we had to stump up a bit extra to get a box shipped home (sorry Dad – yet more to store), it worked out as great value for money.