The curious case of bespoke tailoring in Bangkok

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by Federicoita, Aug 12, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    12 August 2012

    I thought that it may be helpful to open a thread regarding tailoring in Bangkok and by the same token provide an account of my own experiences. I would very much appreciate if contributions to this thread could provide “Constructive” views. In other words, we are all aware what the issues are but, in most cases, moaning does not add value to any given situation. Instead, let’s try and focus on the solutions and where possible let’s back up our assertions with credible accounts and, if available, a few photos.

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    Sifting for bespoke tailoring in Bangkok did require both patience, time and many calls

    Many years ago when we were penniless college students and dreaming of becoming successful we mostly wore tee shirts and jeans. We were all Italians and dreamed of one day wearing suits styled by Gucci, Versace and Canali to name a few.

    Then one of us went travelling to Bangkok and came back with tales from his exotic travels which piqued our interest but most of all he came back with a high quality cashmere suit, which looked and felt good and which he assured us had cost him only a fraction of what he would pay over in Europe. That was back in the early 80s and I had never been to that exotic city which best defines the hectic hustle and bustle like no other place on earth. Technology has taken strides longer then Olympic 800 metre champion Rudisha and moved ahead faster than Usain Bolt.

    However, there is a comforting thought that some things have not changed over the past thirty years and unrealistic as this may sound, it is still possible to commission a high quality and reasonably priced suit within a week and Bangkok is one of those places in the world where this can be achieved.

    Now, mention “ What about tailoring in Bangkok?” to some people and they will shake their heads, raise their arms in the air and utter expletives, which are not too elegant to report for me on paper. However, swift and competent craftsmanship does exist, and, as with most things in life, finding it requires equal doses of patience and time, something the occasional traveller does not always have, which is why word of mouth recommendations are important as long as they come from a source which can be verified as credible.

    Searching and finding a good tailor can be daunting especially in a city where tailor shops seem ever-present. However, through trial and errors, results can be achieved.

    Notwithstanding, that is only half of the story because equally important are the range of materials on offer. In other words, even Ayrton Senna would have had a few challenges winning any formula one race if all he had at his disposal was a Fiat Cinquecento.

    When it comes to textiles a little expertise is also required because what the suit is made of can make the final product as expensive as you want it to be or as cheap.

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    "You are a very lucky man" said this friendly bear at my local shop

    What tends to spoil the experience when in Bangkok at times is the high number of pushy “Sir, you’re a very lucky man” type of salesmen, which undoubtedly one comes across in his quest to find a decent reputable tailor, which is why paying a little attention to tailors who have become household names and most importantly with a client list who assures full satisfaction is just as important.

    Let me tell you, in any event, that commissioning a suit in Bangkok, being measured up and then returning for a fitting is one of those wonderful treats that one looks forward to when visiting this alluring metropolis. It is a must do experience just in the same vein as one cannot come Bangkok and leave without getting a massage, taking a boat trip on the Chao Praya River, visiting temples or abandoning oneself with reckless passion to the flavours of Thai food.
    Despite the fact that it is very easy to acquire tailor made clothes when in Bangkok, what is extraordinary though is the scarcity of information on the actual tailors in Bangkok and determining who is the best is challenging to say the least. This is partly due to the fact that to the untrained eye the quality appears the same with all of them. Therefore, a smattering of the basics and understanding the importance of the necessary fittings and time to produce a high quality suit is key if one is to avoid disappointment.

    Make no mistake, tailoring is competitive in Bangkok and some names tend to come up with some frequency and include among others Universal Tailors, Crown Tailors, Romeo and Juliet Tailor’s House, Pinky’s, Jhasper Fashion and International Boutique House.

    I have visited all of those to make initial enquiries but eventually I chose a different one, Raja’s Fashions and I have been happy with my choice ever since. “Would you like a cold beer?” Bobby Gulati may offer you once you have gone past the initial introductions. Bobby runs Raja’s Fashions a family business started many years ago by his father and that is where I have been going for the past few years to have my suits and shirts made along with coats and tailored short trousers.

    As with most expert tailors they will be able to reproduce any design. I admit being a little fussy when it comes to bespoke clothing and I happen to have a number of special requirements down to the number of pockets, the length of collars and cuffs, the positioning of buttons, plaquets, seams, turns ups, pleats, you name it and I have probably considered it already.

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    It is not a case of what I like at work because a certain standard is expected in my job

    I blame my own mother for this as she is a well known artisan back in Rome. Style and finishing have been genetically imprinted in my brain and, therefore, finding someone that understood what I was looking for and patiently and consistently delivering it was important to me.

    When Bobby told me they were moving to a bigger, better and brighter venue I immediately asked him where. Salzburg, Vienna, Paris, Milano? You see, quite frankly, I think Bobby and his team would be a fitting addition to any of these addresses as the service they provide is just as impeccable and the finished article just as polished. Call me biased if you wish but that is my opinion based on being a long term customer of theirs.

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    Raja's Fashions in Soi 4 is no more. End of an era?

    Well, the move is not going to be that far by all accounts. As a matter of fact, they are moving round the corner at the footsteps of Nana BTS station with effect from next week (15 August 2012). After more than 20 years in Soi 4, they have outgrown their current premises and relocating to Sukhumvit road will provide Bobby and his team with a bright modern space including additional fitting rooms.

    I hope that if you decide to go your experience is a good one like mine have been.
    Here are the details:
    Open: Monday - Saturday from 10.30am to 8pm
    160/1 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110 Thailand
    On the main road near Soi 8, in front of NANA BTS Station

    Tel: (66-2) 253 8379 / (66-2) 253 8389 E-mail: rajas@ksc.th.com

    www.rajasfashions.com www.facebook.com/rajasfashions

    I would like to make it absolutely clear that although Raja’s Fashions are my preferred choice, it is up to the reader to carry out their own research (just as I did) and then decide where they want to go. Therefore, “Caveat Emptor”.



    Giorgio Federico
     
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  2. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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  3. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    January 2013/2556

    My friend Khun Bobby

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    I have a friend in Bangkok that I always love seeing.

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    He runs a successful tailoring business but given my hectic schedule it is not always possible for me to spend some time together with him but we keep in touch by mail and I never fail to visit him, irrelevant of whether I am buying from him or not.

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    Khun Bobby is my eyes when he comes to clothing.

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    I conceptualise my ideas and he transcribes my words into hieroglyphics-like symbols on a white sheet of paper and to me they seem reminiscent of those found on the Rosetta Stone but the outcome is beautiful shirts and suits that make me look like a presidential candidate addressing the press at the White House.

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    Last August, Khun Bobby decided to move premises. Ridiculous rent hikes made him consider an alternative location. Hence, he moved.

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    One immediate disadvantage from that is that now I can no longer walk down Soi 4 to the welcoming cries of “Handsome man” which so effectively boosted my ego, especially given that my 50th birthday is only months away but other than that the move was a smart one.

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    With more space, better lighting and changing room capacity doubled, it begs the question as to why he did not move before.

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    “We are very happy here. We should have done this before” he tells me.

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    Mention tailoring in Bangkok and risk a backlash of malcontent and horror stories.

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    However, I am happy to report that my experiences at Raja’s Fashion provide a welcome break from the negative comments one so often hears about Bangkok tailors.

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    You may wish to give it a try.

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    One of us dresses sharp, looks sharp and feels sharp...and I am not talking about the bayonette.

    Giorgio Federico
     
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  4. pauls4425

    pauls4425 New Member

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    I have tried universal tailors just recently and is very happy with overall quality. Their service and workmanship is impeccable.
     
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  5. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    I have heard good things about Rajas and also Narin Couture at 180 Sukhumvit between Soi 8 and 10 (02 251 9237).
     
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  6. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

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    We'll be in BKK in March 2014. Can anyone give me a rough cost for a tailor made men's suit?

    Sent from my iPad using milepoint
     
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  7. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    The biggest question is what fabrics you want to use- this will be the largest driver in total cost.
     
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  8. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    When I got my suits made in Hoi Ann in Vietnam the price was $90 to $300 depending on if you used Vietnam through Italian cloth. I think bkk will be more, and they may have very high end options/shops.
     
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  9. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    What cloth is best for traveling and surviving be locked in a suitcase?
     
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  10. FrankLark

    FrankLark New Member

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    Finding a tailor in Bangkok for your custom clothing requirements can be a real hassle. I was forced to go through all the stress in searching for a good tailor because there are crowds of them everywhere. It is indeed true that suits cost a lot less here that in the US or UK, but you need to also understand the fact that not all of them are not genuinely good. I had to try a few tailors before I settled with Barons Fashions. On my first visit, George attended to me and on speaking to him, I understood that they valued customers and had a professional understanding of the nuances of men's clothing. My suits turned out great and I'm quite happy with their work.
     
  11. jonspencer

    jonspencer Silver Member

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    yes thank for the info-mercial about Raja's

    now if you could specify actual costs to make 100% cotton dress shirts with French cuffs ?

    then a 2-piece 100% lightweight wool business suit with buttons on the cuffs that function?
     
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  12. Shane Brate

    Shane Brate New Member

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    I've read about a few new tailors here rather than the usual rajas and Toms which is good. Such information would be a major help to people not familiar with what to expect from the tailoring industry when they visit Bangkok. I had that trouble early on, but now I am quite comfortable with my regular tailor, Tailor Pro. They have been commendable in their work, and I think they are worth a try for anyone. Nevertheless, reading such information online will save you thr trouble of walking in and out of unworthy tailor shops.
     
  13. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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