It’s possible to get suits, shirts and dresses tailor-made in Thailand for a fraction of the cost it would be in the West. The savings are so great and the tailors so plentiful that it can be hard to resist. But what about the quality? If you are paying $50 for a suit will it be reflected in the workmanship?
The shops are prominent in certain areas; Chaweng and Lamai on Ko Samui, Ao Nang in Krabi, Patong in Phuket, Sukhumvit in Bangkok . . . in fact, most popular tourist areas.
I’ve never had any clothes made in Thailand so I can’t speak from personal experience. Friends and family that have had stuff made here report a mixed bag in terms of quality.
The hard sell
It’s difficult to walk past a tailor’s shop without one of the owners, usually Indian, trying to shake your hand, guess what nationality you are and greet you with a few well-worn, hackneyed phrases to try and befriend you and get you into the shop. It can be mildly amusing in some cases, but hearing, “lovely jubbly, alright mate” for the umpteenth time soon wears thin.
The soft sell
I think it’s probably fair to say that the better quality tailors don’t need to resort to tactics of standing on the street and cajoling customers. The best shops have an established reputation and gain their customers from word-of-mouth recommendations.
Tailors recommended by hotels
Some of the bigger hotels may have a tailors’ shop on site or recommend a specific place to go to have your clothes made. Although these shops won’t be the cheapest, the service and quality is generally accepted to be good.
The vast majority of tailors to be found in tourist areas of Thailand are Indian or of Indian heritage and they tend to adopt a different approach to salesmanship and customer service than Thai store owners. Some are well acquainted with modern styles and cuts and will give a fantastic service, but there are other shops whose definition of a stylish suit seems to owe much to episodes of Dynasty and Miami Vice.