Archive for the ‘Clothes’ Category

Hong Kong Tailor

And what would a trip to HK be without a visit to the HK tailor? I’ve been looking forward to this for months, and the chance was almost spoiled by a very long work day, but I did break away, two colleagues in tow (one as a guide, one as a style consultant), to go shopping.  We found a shop that looked good – not too shoddy, not too posh – and I was ready with my questions:
“How long to make a suit?”
“Three days, with one visit for fitting.”
“Order on Monday night, ready by Thursday night?”
“Let’s start looking at fabrics.”
“Medium weight, traditional?”
“I’m thinking dark grey. Maybe something with just a little flair, like a little red windowpane stripe?”
“Have. See? Very faint stripe.”
“Excellent!  Beautiful!  How much?”
“$4000, one pair of pants.  Extra pair of pants, $1100 more.”
“One pair will be fine.  Let’s measure.”
“For the lining … something colorful?”
“I think I’d like a medium maroon to bring out the stripe.”
This is definitely something I cannot get off the rack.

As I was getting measured, I realized that I had taken the first price I was offered.  Big mistake. I should have been shocked by the price, reluctant to continue, and waited for the price to drop about 10%.  But, it had been about what I was prepared to pay and I hadn’t mentally prepared for the bargaining. As I stood for the tailor to wrap his measuring tape around various parts of me, I thought about it and decided to ask for a tie to be included.  It wouldn’t lower the price, but it would increase the value anyway. That seemed like such a good idea that I changed my mind and asked for a shirt instead.  In Singapore, a tailor-made shirt goes for about $90, so I prepared for some bargaining.

“Ok.  What kind? White? Blue? Stripes?”
Not even a hint of objection from the salesman. The shirt was my 10% concession.
“Cotton, French cuffs. Maybe a nice pink to bring out the stripe,” and call me Beau Brummel.

And at $4000, with $500 shirts, call me Rockefeller? No, it’s all Hong Kong money, making the shirt about $80 Sing and the suit about $600, or US $65 and $500 – pretty reasonable for made to measure and definitely no more than off the ready-made shelves in Singapore.

A day later
The fitting suit is ready.  It’s a very rough cut jacket and pair of pants that are approximately the right size.  The legs and sleeves have been basted to what they think might be the right length.  Other bits of it get pinned and marked with chalk.  The basting gets ripped out and re-pinned the get the lengths right.  The jacket only has one sleeve.  This is a chance to make all the final decisions about style and fit. Ditto for the shirt.

In Singapore, when I got a couple of shirts, they were made to the measurements without a fitting, because I had no time to go in.  When they were delivered, they fit beautifully – none of that off-the-rack business where the sleeves are either a little too long or a little too short because they don’t have odd numbered sleeve lengths.  I’m looking forward to the HK shirt that was carefully fitted.

Fifteen minutes for the fitting, then off we ran to a client meeting.

Three days later
After a long day, I drafted my guide one more time (I still don’t think I could find this place on my own) and off we went to collect the clothes. As promised, they were ready, excellent fit, and didn’t I look dashing in my new pink shirt and snazzy suit with the red stripe and maroon lining!

And now I have a problem.  The clothes are beautiful.  They have my measurements.  The price is not outrageous.  I can order another from anywhere in the world just by sending email.  I’m getting seriously spoiled by wearing clothes that fit so well.  And it’s really going to be hard to justify a closet full of these clothes when I start spending all my time on the golf course.


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Monday was a race to prepare for travel on Tuesday.  Happily business cards and corporate credit card both arrived in the nick of time.  Unhappily, the air reservation needed to be confirmed by the previous Friday, so it had been cancelled by the airline.  After a brief moment of thinking/hoping that I might be off the hook and I could spend the upcoming week getting ready for the move to the apartment, I called the travel agent who was able to magically re-instate the reservation.  Oh, well, Tokyo calls.

After work, feeling a little frazzled and knowing that I still had to pack, I took the MRT to Orchard, and went up to the street.  The subway cars are cold.  If you’re not careful where you stand, you can get a cold wind blowing down your neck.  Subway stations are pleasantly cool. As you ride the escalator up toward the street, you rise through the heat gradient so it’s not like a hot blast when you get to the street, but you definitely know that you’re not far from the equator.

The walk to the Far East Plaza mall is only two or three blocks, but that’s enough for my shirt to start getting wet. Inside the mall, it’s somewhat cool again (there is a direct relationship between how cold a mall is and how expensive are the stores that populate it), and I found my way back to Mohan’s tailor shop on the second level. The pants were ready. They fit just fine, and they look as good as equivalent off-the-rack pants from Men’s Wearhouse would look.  These, of course, have the extra advantage that they are made of a fabric weight that is suited to the climate. And I didn’t have to settle for a size slightly too small with the optimistic expectation that I would drop five pounds in the next month. Not a bargain like in the old days of the Hong Kong tailor, but a decent value anyway.

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