Greatest Hits: 7 Rules for Buying Cheap Custom Suits While Traveling

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    As the first year of Fly&Dine draws to a close, I’ll be looking back on the stories that turned Fly&Dine from a tiny blog into a growing monolith (and major hub of hyperbole). With only two weeks left in 2014, let’s take a look at the most popular story in Fly&Dine history: 7 Rules for Buying Cheap Custom Suits While Traveling This doesn’t exactly fall under the food-focus of Fly&Dine, but as a public service I thought it would be worthwhile to share my experience of buying bespoke clothing on my recent trip to Hong Kong. In September, I traveled to Thailand for one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. I zoomed around the country from Bangkok to Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai to Koh Samui, riding elephants, eating ridiculously good food, and staying in some of the nicest rooms I’ve even seen at various Four Seasons properties. The one thing I didn’t do was get a suit made and I’ve regretted it ever since. Realistically, though, it’s not smart to get custom clothing made unless you’re in one place for a week or more. You need time to return to the tailors for several fittings because no matter how good somebody is, they’re not going to get it right on the first try. This leads us to Rule #1 of Custom Tailoring While Abroad: Rule #1: Don’t get anything made if you don’t have the time for multiple fittings. When I started planning my trip to Hong Kong (which just concluded last week), I knew that one of my first stops was going to be a tailor to get some suits and shirts made. I scoured the internet and found this blog post about Manhattan Tailor on Nathan Rd. on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. From the sound of it, this guy Roger was exactly who I was looking for. The price seemed right — the post insinuated that two suits and four shirts could be had for $500 (all prices in this post will be in USD) or maybe even less — and the experience seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. I decided that Roger at Manhattan Tailor was exactly the guy for me. I was wrong. Rule #2: Don’t base your choice of tailor off of one blog post. Since I know next to nothing about suits, I wanted confirmation that this guy was who I wanted. I searched for more reviews of this shop and found a few scattered comments that the place was good and cheap and friendly and that was apparently all that I needed to see to make my decision. I kept on coming across names of more reputable places, like Sam’s Tailor and Simpson Sin, but the prices seemed to be much higher than what I expected at Manhattan Tailor, so I stuck with my gut. Before I go any further, I should also point out that I wasn’t looking for anything top-of-the-line. I don’t wear suits often beyond weddings and funerals and I was hoping to get some cheap suits that looked pretty good for a small amount of money. Unfortunately, I got the cheap suits but I still don’t know if they look all that good or not. Rule #3: You will get what you pay for, even if you’re getting ripped off. My first visit to Roger’s shop was less than comfortable. When I first arrived, Roger wasn’t there. The other Indian men working there (who would alternately be referred to as brothers and cousins of Roger — more on that later) knew English, but not exactly fluently. I told them that I was looking for two suits and four shirts and wanted to spend $500 (just as I had seen in the blog post mentioned above). They told me, yes, sure, we’ll put together a great package, best price, you will be so happy. Then they started measuring me. It was clear that they didn’t exactly know what they were doing. Luckily, Roger came in and took over. I can’t overstate this fact: when I was dealing with Roger, I felt comfortable. He was confident and thorough. I had already chosen some fabrics I liked and when I mentioned what I wanted to pay, he told me that he couldn’t make what I wanted for that price. Hmmm. I had evidence to the contrary, but I also know next to nothing about suits, and he kept insisting that the material for the suit I really wanted was very expensive and he was only going to make a little money on it anyway. “I want to become your personal tailor, sir, so I will give you this incredible price.” Like a sucker, I nodded my head. I wanted a personal tailor! I wanted an incredible price! I should have known this was a classic salesman tactic. Rule #4: When you feel like you’re getting so much “Sales Speak” that it feels like you’re buying a used car, walk away. I truly should have known. I’m usually very savvy about this kind of thing and my spidey sense was tingling. I felt like I was dealing with a used car salesman, but the price was still so much cheaper than if I had the clothing made in the US that I decided to go ahead with the deal. For two suits (including the so-called “very expensive” material as a three-piece suit) and three shirts, I was going to pay $665 with a $250 deposit. At that moment, I felt pretty good about everything. The real trouble started two days later when I came in for my first fitting. Rule #5: Insist that the person you first dealt with will be the one you always deal with. Roger is a busy guy. Or at least that’s the way it seems. When I was there, he was always darting in and out of the shop. I showed up on Tuesday for my first fitting and Roger... The post Greatest Hits: 7 Rules for Buying Cheap Custom Suits While Traveling appeared first on Fly&Dine.

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