YOUR INSIDER'S TAILORS GUIDE
IN HO CHI MINH CITY 🇻🇳 SINCE 2008
SAIGON INSPIRATION SHOPPING TAILORS
SAIGON INSPIRATION SHOPPING TAILORS BEST TAILORS IN SAIGON
In the tourist areas of Ho Chi Minh City, there are tons of tailors and they even have their own small fabric shops adjacent to their workshops or emporiums. Tailor shops like these are available in abundance in District 1, especially in the backpacker quarter at Pham Ngu Lao.
Since they speak English up to a certain degree, tourists like to drop in and have something tailored fast before they have to leave Saigon again. But I would like to guide you through the process of obtaining custom-made clothing from the tailor Vietnamese way.
Before we begin to hunt for the best tailors in Ho Chi Minh City, we need to start with the very first question:
What type of clothing do I want?
Well, it might be self-explanatory, but before we go to the fabric market in Saigon, let alone the tailor, we need to decide what we want. If you long for a traditional Vietnamese Áo dài, you can find a broad variety of specialized fabric shops. One of the most famous Áo dài fabric shops where we bought the material for my fiancé’s long dress was Lụa Thái Tuấn silk located on 236 Đường 3/2, D10, HCMC, Vietnam / +84 (0)28 3862 0657
The same is true if your goal is to obtain a custom-tailored suit. There are several good fabric shops where you can find the cloth you need near chợ Tân Định (Tan Dinh Market, one of the famous old markets of Saigon).
However, this is Vietnam, and going to a big market is what we love to do here.
Step one: The fabric market
When shopping for the right fabric in Ho Chi Minh City, there is one address you cannot miss:
Chợ An Đông (An Dong Market)
An Dong, W.9, D5, HCMC, Vietnam
A part of An Dong Market is some sort of urban flea market where you can buy the usual crap, but upstairs is the paradise of textiles. The focus lies on cloth for shirts, trousers, and women’s fashion. Of course, the booths for the dresses are much more colorful than the men’s department, but since I primarily wear black, a very unpopular color in Vietnam for cultural reasons, I don’t pay much attention to pink, yellow and toxic green anyway. Not that they only have ugly colors at the market, no way! The palette at chợ An Đông is almost as versatile as nature itself.
As I said, I want black fabric and natural fibers as well, so we start our shopping spree and head from one booth to the next. Some cloth looks nice but contains too much artificial fiber for my taste. At some other booth, the lady shows me some jeans fabric which appears nice and black in the shadow where she keeps it. Upon further inspection I realize, it’s dark blue and not black at all.
In the end, I got what I wanted. Black, fine cotton fabric for my shirts at 130,000 VND/m and nice cotton canvas for the trousers at 160,000 and 180,000 VND/m. The price is good because chợ An Đông is far away from the tourist areas and foreigners are a rare sight. But we bargain a little, just for the heck of it.
By the way, if you don’t know it already, the ladies at the fabric booths know how many meters of cloth you will approximately need for the shirt/dress/trousers you desire.
Step two: Finding the right tailor
A good tailor in Ho Chi Minh City specializes in a certain field. My favorite tailor actually was not happy when I ordered a pair of tai chi trousers. Nervously he flicked through his reference material for trousers and suits, muttering “Never in my 40 years as a tailor, somebody has ordered something like this.”
He was afraid that I would not be satisfied with the result and his high reputation would suffer. I decided not to strain the good man with my weird demands and ordered two pairs of normal trousers and three shirts, withdrawing my order for the martial arts pants until I can find a template on the internet or something.
I think the best way to find a good tailor in Saigon is to ask the locals. Many Vietnamese businessmen don’t use overpriced shops in tourist areas but order their clothes at the tailor where their father already had his shirts made. That way you can make sure to get the quality work of a proper craftsman at a reasonable price.
As we bring in the fabric we bought at the market, our tailor examines it carefully. He even takes a lighter, setting a corner afire. The fabric burns slowly don’t melt, smoke or stink. After putting out the small flame, he declares it to be pure cotton of high quality.
720 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, D3, HCMC, Vietnam
After a series of questions about pockets, cuts, folds, and the like, the tailor takes his measuring ribbon and measures my arms, legs, wrists, and so on. He writes down everything and I get a foldable business card with the items written on it, the price, the day to pick up the finished product, and a small sample of the fabric.
We also bought the fabric for my fiancé’s Áo dài that day, so we head to a tailor, famous for beautiful Vietnamese long dresses.
Nhà May Chi
149 Nguyễn Thiện Thuật, D3, HCMC, Vietnam
This specialized tailor comes from the center of Vietnam, from the ancient city of Hue. The shop is quite busy, apparently, they are famous for quality tailoring as well. Basically, the process is the same as for my trousers and shirts. But since the Áo dài is a rather clinging dress, I am excluded from the measuring process and wait outside. During that time I marvel at the array of hand-painted fabrics exhibited in the shop.
We tuck away the foldable business card with a scrap of cloth inside, and head for dinner.
A custom-tailored Áo dài from Saigon will cost around 700,000 VND upwards. It always depends on the fabric. Student Áo dàis are available for a little less, while you can reach really high prices with silk and hand embroidered hems at luxury tailors in Ho Chi Minh City.
One of the most famous luxury Áo dài tailors of Ho Chi Minh City is in Lý Tự Trọng street, close to Ben Thanh market:
Vo Viet Chung
205 Lý Tự Trọng, D1, HCMC, Vietnam
For a more high-end option in Ho Chi Minh City, we recommend H&D Tailor by New World, đường Phạm Hồng Thái street, D1, HCMC, Vietnam
If you are not in Saigon, but you are searching for a tailor in other cities in Vietnam, please feel free to take a look at our listings of tailors in Vietnam.
Step three: Pick up your custom-made clothes
Well, this one is pretty self-explanatory again. In the card you received from your favorite tailor in Saigon, you find the day when your order is finished. You go there, try if it fits as you imagined it, and pay. The tailor will make minor adjustments if necessary.
Not necessarily if you buy just a shirt and trousers, but a vital step if you ordered a whole suit, is the intermediary measurement. You just drop by a couple of days before your suit is finished, put on the half-finished clothing, and the tailor will measure again for small adjustments. Just to make sure, everything fits perfectly.
Now go and have fun with your custom-tailored clothing made in Ho Chi Minh City!
Both of us were very happy with the fashion items we purchased that day. The only downside to mention would be, that both our tailors don’t speak a word of English. Not an obstacle for us, but maybe if you don’t have the time to partner up with somebody who speaks Vietnamese, you might want to stick to the tailors in District 1.
For long-limbed foreigners like me, it is kinda hard to find shirts or trousers that fit. I remember spending around two hours trying different jeans at Metro in Da Nang until I ended up with one that fit me well. It was blue though. Yuck!
Ordering custom-made clothes at the tailor in Ho Chi Minh City is much easier. You get exactly what you need, and usually at a reasonable price. Trousers come at VND 170,000 plus the cost of the fabric for example. A whole suit might cost as much as VND 2,500,000, but custom-tailored and of high quality.
Depending on the area, specialization, and versatility of your tailor, it might even be double the mentioned price sometimes. A bespoke tailor might charge even more, for good reasons.
SAIGON INSPIRATION SHOPPING TAILORS NEEDLE MASTERS: TOP BESPOKE TAILORS IN HCMC
Bespoke tailoring is the result of many centuries of commitment to the craft of sewing, stitching, cutting, and imitating the human form in fabrics. Regardless of today’s technological advancements, modern-day bespoke tailors still use traditional techniques and are seen as skilled artisans who put their creativity to work on designs that differ on a customer-by-costumer basis.
It’s no secret that Vietnam hosts world-renowned tailors who could compete head-to-head with the finest needle masters in Savile Row. The skillful tailors of Hoi An are well-known throughout the world and they are one of the main reasons why Vietnamese from all parts of the country will encourage you to visit the city of a thousand lanterns.
However, Saigon residents and visitors will find many an outstanding needle master who can deliver sleek outfits that cater to various styles. We met with four of the best bespoke tailors in HCMC. They all serve foreign clients on a regular basis and speak good English to best serve your needs.
6 Pham Hong Thai, D1 / +84 (0)922 920 557
With over 40 years of experience in tailoring, H&D Tailor serves a wide range of customers who prefer classic and traditional outfits over the latest trendy designs. Its proximity to New World Saigon Hotel ensures close familiarity with foreign clients and their need for Western cuts. The language will not be a problem since the staff speak fluent English and know that a rapid turnaround is a major advantage for business people visiting the city for only a few days.
H&D Tailor gets lots of repeat customers, which speaks louder than words. Plus its owner – a bespoke tailor himself – has a strong and long-lasting reputation in the tailoring business, giving him a competitive edge over other garment makers.
2 Mạc Thị Bưởi, Bến Nghé, D1, HCMC, Vietnam / +84 (0)906 908 585
Enjoying a prime location on one of the busiest streets in HCMC, this shop exudes finesse from the moment you set your foot in the door. In contrast with more traditional styles of couture, Sir Tailor offers fashionable and trendy suits with a distinctive Vietnamese touch for well-heeled Europeans, importing many high-end fabrics from Italy, France, and Britain.
At Sir Tailor customers will also find bespoke shoes and a wide range of ready-to-wear polos and shirts – using fabrics from brands such as Zegna, Rochas, and Lambton – that complete a true dress-to-impress look. Another great point? The workshop is upstairs, so Sir Tailor rarely outsources any parts of a given design to other tailors, guaranteeing that the work takes place in-house.
+84 (0)908 419 879 / facebook.com/MostInterestingTailorInSaigon/
Kenn Smith runs a one-man show that caters to foreigners who are looking for a detail-oriented tailor with a fine sense of style. Originally from Indianapolis, Smith comes from a family where tailoring runs deep, meaning that he understands every aspect of the business and is able to serve special arrangements for every client who seeks his service. He will go the extra mile for you, literally: his team of tailors often takes clients’ fittings at Tan Son Nhat Airport before they jump on a plane!
Smith has designed bespoke suits for taekwondo fighters who wanted sleek outfits flexible enough to handle front, back and even jumping kicks; despite the challenge, he delivered an outstanding suit that will never break apart. On top of that, as a true businessman, Smith offers very competitive prices and relates well to businesspeople. He just gets it.
232 Le Thanh Ton, D1, HCMC, Vietnam / +84 (0)28 3822 5338 & 523 An Duong Vuong, D5, HCMC, Vietnam / +84 (0)28 3832 1329
Last but not least, Nhut Tailor runs three branches in HCMC and enjoys a good reputation since the owner has been in the business for over 42 years. They carry some exclusive fabrics imported from Europe: Dormeuil (France), Vitale Barberis Canonico, and Marzoni (both from Italy); besides these high-end materials, most of their customer base consists of Vietnamese who demand a full-canvas Asian fitting.
Nhut Tailor uses natural fabrics throughout the garment, giving strength and durability to their product which increases the lifespan of every piece of clothing. Plus, they pay close attention to the after-sales service, allowing customers to have their attires altered in case of weight changes or other bodily changes. The delivery wait might be too long for travelers or visitors, but if they manage to stick around a bit longer, they will get superb service at quite a reasonable price.
SAIGON INSPIRATION SHOPPING TAILORS KENN SMITH, COUTURIER, ON BESPOKE IN HCMC
Kenn Smith is a well-known figure around town with his sartorial elegance and engaging personality.
We caught up with him recently to discuss the finer points of gentleman’s tailoring in Ho Chi Minh City. Kenn is a native of Indianapolis, though years of travel have seen his accent morph into more of a Southern Drawl to my English ears.
A former corporate trainer in Vietnam, he was a team leader for the company involved with bringing McDonald’s to Vietnam. He is a self-taught tailor who learned a lot from a former Versace employee who worked with him for a while. Finding the right people was one of the hardest challenges he faced when starting up his business here.
During the war, all the good tailors were employed making suits for high-ranking military personnel. When the war ended most were in a position to be able to leave the country and that is what they did, leaving behind a huge dearth of talent.
Kenn was lucky enough to meet one old chap who stayed and in addition to accepting a job working for Kenn, he trained up other tailors to a very high standard. Even today there are only a handful of men capable of making truly bespoke suits in the country. A bespoke tailored suit involves upwards of a hundred hours of labor and should be viewed differently than made-to-measure items. Made-to-measure takes in a list of measurements and then works with recognized templates. Bespoke not only relies on strict measurements but also on the shape of your body, the angle of your shoulders, and many more variables; each customer provides a unique template. Kenn Smith Couturier claims to be the only truly bespoke fitter in Southeast Asia. Tailors came from London’s Savile Row to Shanghai to teach locals, and Kenn decided to go the same route in Vietnam.
What are the main benefits of wearing a bespoke suit?
The main benefit is certainly the comfort, bespoke suits are canvas lined and it breathes. The outer shell is the cloth, there is the silk on the inside, and in between is the canvas. Even in this hot climate, it’s nice to be able to wear a suit and feel comfortable. Made to measure suits use an iron-in artificial fabric liner than does not breathe.
What do you feel is the psychology, especially in the business sector, of first impressions of a person’s dress or sense of style?
Prior to starting up, I did four years of research, hiring four young women to do market research, and trained to get to see decision-makers. 500 surveys over four years were aimed at first impressions. They had photos of men and women in different styles and asked the interviewees to choose the ones that gave the best impressions. 95% of every category of interviewees went for the more formal style. Speaking at many events I know that young entrepreneurs feel that wearing my suits does help them to gain credibility and grow their business. When I speak at functions I wear a smoking jacket, which is considered alternative black tie attire. We now see people ordering them in the city.
Do you think that a person’s accessories carry as much weight as the actual clothes?
Not at all. If accessories are gaudy I think they take people’s opinions in the wrong direction. Subtle accessories are almost unnoticeable and in my opinion always preferable.
What makes Vietnamese tailoring stand out when compared to other Southeast Asian countries?
The Vietnamese are more entrepreneurial and seem to work harder. This manifests itself in them being better tailors than most, Not just in tailoring in fact, they are starting to lead the way in many occupations.
You certainly have developed your own style, do you think this is common here or do people tend to go for more mainstream styles?
I think entrepreneurs want their own style and I tend to spend a lot of time discussing their design ideas. Regular business customers tend to want more of an accepted design.
How easy is it to get good fabrics? Are they made here in Vietnam or imported?
Most of what we use comes from Taiwan. The premium fashion brands from Italy and France are using the same fabrics we source from Taiwan for their off-the-peg wear that they are producing in China and Southeast Asia. Fabrics are made in Taiwan by Italian companies. We use light wools blended with silk and polyester which are particularly great for this climate. We also buy from Holland and Sherry from London, one of the original Savile Row tailors who moved into fabrics.