If you hear:
If they don’t have:
If you don’t see:
If you hear:
If you hear any of these buzzwords, beware. Read below to learn more.
Unfortunately, Bangkok suffers from a reputation for the shady business practices of certain establishments. To help you select a tailor and to guarantee that you get a great product at a fair price, we’ve put together a guide with the most common issues.
“Egyptian cotton” is a common phrase you will hear in Thailand, but very few tailors actually stock it. It is always milled in Europe, and your tailor should tell you the name of it’s mill (which can be Googled). Egyptian cotton is branded and it’s brand label will always be sewn into your shirt. If this is not the case, the fabric is not Egyptian cotton and it is almost certainly from China or Thailand. Egyptian cotton is never 44” wide and never comes on tubular rolls. If your tailor shows you these, you know that the fabric is either from Thailand or Japan, and certainly not from Europe.
Wool/Cashmere fabrics are always milled in Europe. If your tailor is offering you these, the name will be on the fabric selvedge (writing on the edge of the fabric) and the fabric will always come with a corresponding label of authenticity to be sewn into your garment. Cashmere is always sold in percentages, so your tailor should be able to tell you the exact percentage (ex. 3%, 6%). If any of this is not the case, the fabric is not wool/cashmere and it is not European. It is almost certainly of Chinese origin and your tailor is not being honest about it's quality.
Fabrics from Italy and England are always branded. They are the highest quality and most sought after fabrics, and therefore, often emulated by other mills (Chinese, Japanese, Thai). Your tailor should tell you the name of the mill which you can, in turn, Google. European fabrics will always come with a branded label of authenticity that will be sewn into your shirt or jacket. If it's a suiting, the selvedge will carry the name of that same mill. If any of this is not the case, the fabric is not of Italian or English origin and your tailor is not being honest with you.
The Thai tailoring industry has developed to cope with extreme variations in demand due to high and low seasons, as well as rushed turnaround times. The “tailors” that sell products are purely shop fronts, dealing only with fabrics and taking measurements. These are subsequently sent to independent factories – sweatshops, if you will – and the work is paid per piece. While cost efficient for the shop fronts, this system has some fundamental flaws.
If you go to a tailor that DOES NOT have in-house tailors, it will lead to:
NO PRODUCTION CONTROL
The shop has no influence over how the garment is constructed. This limits customizations and means a complete lack of control regarding the construction components.
Because the tailors are paid for piecework, they have an incentive to rush through production, especially during high season. This causes poor workmanship.
Different sweatshops are used depending on availability, all working slightly differently, so you’ll often get variations in construction and sizes, even within the same order.
POOR WORKING CONDITIONS
Incomes are unstable, and knowing that customers will never see them, factories are set up with objectionable work environments and working hours.
A visible price list shows complete transparency. Many tailors do not list their prices online or in shop for three main reasons:
Their prices change depending on the client: how hard they bargain, how "important" they are, or if commissions need to be paid out. If you have been recommended by a hotel or a taxi, tailors often pay them 30%-40% of their profits, thus increasing the price you pay by the same amount.
Falsely branded fabrics and accessories are extremely prevalent. Tailors don't like to list what they are selling, as this would be an admission that their fabrics are not what they are claiming them to be. In effect, they can sell “wool/cashmere” without listing what it actually is (or isn’t).
A visible price list means a direct comparison. This doesn't just mean a fabric comparison, although this plays a major part. When comparing price, comparisons must also include important details such as accessories, garment construction, the fitting process, and the overall experience.
Due to more information becoming available online, clients are becoming more aware of suit construction techniques. Because of this and a general push towards improving quality, Southeast Asian tailors are starting to use terms like “floating canvas”, “half canvas”, and “half fused” to try to attract customers.
If you hear a tailor using the term “floating canvas”, he or she does not know what they are talking about and they do not understand or have any knowledge of suit construction. Virtually every business suit/sports coat produced has a “floating canvas”, irrespective of whether it is fused, fully canvased or other. Canvases are always stitched into place, not fused, so this is nothing special. Even poorly constructed jackets in Bangkok contain a canvas.
The perfect compromise between a full canvas and a fused jacket is the half canvas. There is no tailor producing a half canvas jacket in Thailand, however, many tailors will say they are just because they are putting a canvas in their jackets (see “floating canvas” point above). Fused production and half canvas construction are produced in very similar ways, but the two main differences are: 1. The lapels on a half canvas jacket contain canvassing and are pad stitched (unlike a fused jacket), and 2. The collar contains canvas or linen rather than fusible.
Full canvas construction is the pinnacle of suit production, however, it is a complex and time consuming process which requires a vast skill set. There are a few tailors that produce this in Thailand, however, these jackets are always priced very similarly to European/North American jackets of the same quality. There are no deals to be had with this construction. We recommend that if you are looking for this, you must see the work occurring on site. Otherwise, you can expect a low grade suit not worthy of the money spent.