Review: Buying a Tailored Suit in Thailand

Just thought I’d put together some tips and advice for anyone who is looking into picking up a tailored suit in Thailand.

There are 4 elements to consider when it comes to suits in Thailand:

  1. Cut – how slim, or loose the suit fits
  2. Style – the creative design of the suit
  3. Colour – self explanatory
  4. Quality – as above

You’ll be glad to know that Cut, Colour, Quality are not an issue with the suits you get made in Thailand. The Cut is exceptional in most cases (from my experience, and other users on the web). There will be infinite Colour you can pick from as they have rolls of textiles for you waiting. The Quality of the sew is also very good. One thing I will note is that they tend to ignore the felt on the back of the collar of suits. This is generally used to make the collar sit better.

The issue is namely with the Style. When you go into these suit places (there is literally one on every corner), they will get you to flick through magazines to pick the Style you want. However, all you’re really doing is picking the colour, and the Cut. They will not be able to copy the Style of the suit from the magazine itself. In essence, they can only make one Style of suit, and you’re only picking the Colour and Cut from the magazine.

There is some flexibility, but it is limited to:

  • 2 or 3 button suit
  • Trousers – one or two rear pockets
  • Inner lining colours
  • Single, double, or no slit on coat

The reason for the limitation is that the store does not actually produce the suit themself. They get your measurements and send it off to a sweat shop to be made. How can I be sure of all the above? Observe the notes they jot down which will be sent to the sweat shop when they are measuring you up for suit. They jot your dimensions down, and note your preference of colour. Notice how there are no notes about the Style of the suit you picked out from the magazine!

This is from my experience, but maybe there are other people out there with different experiences. I have been told that they may be able to copy a suit if you already have the suit. But if this was the case, you probably wouldn’t be going to them for a suit, unless you really wanted a larger choice of suit colours to wear.

It should be noted that the Style of the suit would vary slightly from store to store, and that’s because they send it off to different sweat shops. Little things such as the angle of the suitcoat pockets will vary, but just remember each sweat shop can only produce one Style.

If all of the above sits ok with you, then Thailand is a great place to get a magnificent priced tailored suit. I paid 7600 baht for 2 suitcoats, and 2 pants (ie. 2 sets of suits). This equated to about AU$280. Normally I would spend AU$100 just to alter the cut and length of an existing suit, let alone have one made from scratch.

My suit came from a store in Patong, but I will withhold the location of the store until I am happy (or unhappy) with the longevity of the suit. I don’t want to jump the gun in recommending the place or vice versa til I am sure about the Quality.

The procedure for purchasing one of these suits is pretty standard:

  • Walk in, decide on cut and colours (make sure you decide on an inner lining colour or you will get the norm) and your initial measurement is taken. Deposit paid, usually 50% but get away with as least as possible.
  • 2 hours later, come back for preliminary fitting. The suit looks like an art smock at this point.
  • Next day, come in for final fitting with the finished product. Final alterations can be made including trouser length.
  • 2 hours later, suit ready for pickup with final payment.

In closing, you get what you pay for. There is also a massive post on Lonely Planet about tailoring in Thailand. I found this page most interesting (post 334) – http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1207953&start=330

Day 12 – Phuket, Thailand

Phuket covers a large region, and today we were off to Patong. The beach here is nicer than Surin and is quite busy. There are many side shops, but the night market lacks anything interesting. The shopping centre (Jungceylon) here is nothing great, but its good if you want to get indoors and enjoy some airconditioned comfort.

If you have been up to Chiang Mai, you will notice things in Phuket are more expensive and the people here try harder to get your attention (and probably rip you off). The classic that springs to mind was the Thailand Shot Glass – they wanted 300 baht = $11 AUD. Wouldn’t even cost me that much back at home. In department stores, it was a reasonable 150 baht, which I would consider to still be expensive.

I had predetermined that I would go to Thailand to purchase a tailored suit since it seemed to be all the rave. I will post a review of the suit once it is fully made and I get it home to compare the quality against some of my other suits. I ended up paying 7600 baht for 2 suits (totalling 2 coats, and 2 pants).

Had dinner in Patong, and funnily enough the suit was my only purchase for the day. Nothing else caught my eye.