Cheap Threads: 5 Tips on Buying a Suit in Thailand
There are all sorts of amazing things you can get ridiculously cheap in Thailand. Some of them come cheap because they are made cheap, and after you go through a few sets of sandals in one month, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Other goods just come at an amazing discount in Thailand and may be of higher quality than you can get back home—Thai silk comes to mind.
One great purchase I highly suggest—though it may be the last thing on your mind in the tropics—is a tailor-made suit.
So if you do want to pick up a bespoke suit, where do you go and who do you purchase from? After all, a quick walk down Kao San Road and it seems like everyone and their brother wants to sell you one. Here are a few tips to get you going.
1. Once Again, Purchase Away from Tourist Zones
Here we go again. Look, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the tourist zones, and I’m sure there are some great merchants in these areas, but the prices are typically jacked and in any poor country, this is the type of environment that attracts the scammers.
There are some honest ones there, to be sure, but do you really think your odds of rooting them out while on vacation are all that great?
2. Avoid the 2 Suits for 1000 Baht Deals
I know it’s tempting—“Wow, 2 suits for the price it takes me to take my girlfriend to dinner back home…” I almost went for it too. But let’s be honest, a tailor that advertises like this is not likely producing quality threads. The prices are already low, and the best pros don’t need to slash prices and throw it on a sandwich board to get regular business.
3. Seek Out Referrals
The best thing you can do is get a referral—preferably from some local Thais who have good taste in clothing and high standards. If you meet some upper middle class Thais and make friends with them, they should be able to tell you about a reputable tailor. And just in case it needs mentioning, your tuk tuk driver might not be the best source of information for tailor-made clothing.
If you really don’t know any Thais, no problem. Get online and Google around a little bit to get a recommendation—expat forums are excellent sources of information for this sort of thing. One tailor, Rajawongse Clothier,has even carved out a niche suiting a good portion of America’s military and government elite—including spies, embassy officials, Secret Service agents, and the Bush Family.
You can find another review of an honest tailor at Stickman Bangkok’s article about Boss Apparels.
4. Form a Relationship
Don’t think of this as just a one-time purchase. Some of the tailors here are just as good as any tailor back home (as evidenced by the long-running relationship Rajawongse has formed with US military and diplomats, and once you’ve found one, maintain the relationship.
The real pros keep your measurements on file and you can call and order any time—or you might have someone measure you back home if you’ve put on a few pounds and then send in the information.
In fact, there are some serious merchants that spend a decent portion of the year taking trips to European and American cities to measure groups of men and then send the suits back after they go home and do their work.
Stay in touch, and you could enjoy high quality suits at a third of the price for the rest of your adult life.