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Beijing bespoke?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My friends and I are headed to Beijing for spring break and one of my roommates wants to get a bespoke for under $100. I think he'll be sacrificing too much quality by going so low, but... 1. ...anyone on the forum w/experience on any Beijing tailor? Obviously HK is the place to be but we won't be stopping there. 2. Any other price differentials, when it comes to menswear, that I could take advantage of while in China? Have been watching the forum and it's been very helpful thus far, Seok
post #2 of 8
Are you Chinese, do you speak Chinese, or do you have a very competent translator? That is the first step in getting deals in China. The hotel-based and other more well-known tailors who do competent work may be equipped to deal with English speakers, but they will certainly not be under 100 dollars. You can certainly get suits made for 50 dollars or less even, but the best is for you to have a model for them to copy. If you want something that is really custom-made, approaching bespoke, you are going to need to be extremely persistent, demanding, and detail-conscious. Even skilled tailors will sacrifice quality in order to save a few dimes. And they will sacrifice it in places you may not be able to notice right away. You need to be sure about button holes (good buttons themselves), that they use good thread, not to mention the interfacing-which is going to be a hard thing to get across. I never figured out how to explain fusing/canvassing effectively, so what I had made is fused. You can go to the fabric market (mianliao shichang) of which there are two in Beijing, select your own a fabric and find a tailor there. Just ask a cab driver to take you to the city's largest fabric market. This is the cheapest method. I would certainly recommend getting something made there, but mainly for the experience. It will be a side of China, you haven't seen before. Look at what you get as a very personalized piece - stick in a crazy silk lining - and not necessarily brioni quality. That is unless you want to use a tailor that caters to foreigners and tourists. In that case you should be able to get something decent, for about 200-500 dollars. Even in this case, you better be insistent about what you want. Make a list with numerous points. You can get all of these from reading this forum. Anything you don't mention, they will fuck up. Frankly, I think Thailand is the best place for inexpensive tailoring which is decent.
post #3 of 8
As far as other clothing goes in China...are you going to be stopping by Shanghai? There is a decent amount of fake shit, but nothing compared to Thailand in quality or cheapness. If you want any standard ralph lauren shirts or hilfiger, you can find that sort of thing for under 100 kuai in many boutiques. If you want some very pointy very tasteless shoes made of something that looks a lot like leather and wear a size 43 or less, Beijing has many options, Kabeen is one. There is also tight black and white clothing in synthetics that often seems somewhat like a horribly tacky version of Dior H. If you want a nice hat, there is a cool store with pretty good quality, materials, and selection along Wangfujing street. You can sometime pick up Diesel Jeans for about 120 kuai. Obviously fake bags, wallets, shoes, etc. from Gucci and the rest of the boring usual suspects. The real brandname stuff never seems very cheap or as varied in selection as in Hk or other places.
post #4 of 8
I bought two custom suits in Shanghai for under 100 bucks each - black and white glenplaid and a blue pinstripe. After multiple fittings, they still don't sit right and I haven't worn them yet. This was supposed to be one of the more reputable tailors in Shanghai (Silk King). Anyway, I'm spoiled with beautiful suits, and these quite simply don't measure up. You get what you pay for. All in all though, not a bad deal.
post #5 of 8
Quote:
Are you Chinese, do you speak Chinese, or do you have a very competent translator? That is the first step in getting deals in China. The hotel-based and other more well-known tailors who do competent work may be equipped to deal with English speakers, but they will certainly not be under 100 dollars. You can certainly get suits made for 50 dollars or less even, but the best is for you to have a model for them to copy. If you want something that is really custom-made, approaching bespoke, you are going to need to be extremely persistent, demanding, and detail-conscious. Even skilled tailors will sacrifice quality in order to save a few dimes. And they will sacrifice it in places you may not be able to notice right away. You need to be sure about button holes (good buttons themselves), that they use good thread, not to mention the interfacing-which is going to be a hard thing to get across. I never figured out how to explain fusing/canvassing effectively, so what I had made is fused. You can go to the fabric market (mianliao shichang) of which there are two in Beijing, select your own a fabric and find a tailor there. Just ask a cab driver to take you to the city's largest fabric market. This is the cheapest method. I would certainly recommend getting something made there, but mainly for the experience. It will be a side of China, you haven't seen before. Look at what you get as a very personalized piece - stick in a crazy silk lining - and not necessarily brioni quality. That is unless you want to use a tailor that caters to foreigners and tourists. In that case you should be able to get something decent, for about 200-500 dollars. Even in this case, you better be insistent about what you want. Make a list with numerous points. You can get all of these from reading this forum. Anything you don't mention, they will fuck up.
So true. Chinese businessmen (tailors included) are born hustlers, it seems (btw, I'm of Chinese origin, speak reasonable Cantonese, and most of my mom's family are Hong Kong bred and born, so this is from experience, not prejudice). I used to think that I'm pretty savvy and not at all embarassed as most westerners would be. But without my cousins, uncles, etc... who grew up and live in these places, I would be taken to lunch. And be forced to splurge for coffee and desert afterwards
post #6 of 8
Personally, I don't think you are able to get something bespoke or even close to bespoke for that money in Beijing. In fact, it's not easy to get anything bespoke at all. There are a few tailors scattered around: in Kerry Centre (an upscale Shopping Centre and Hotel), in a hotel called "Tian Lun Wang Cao" in Wangfujing (a major shopping district) but I have examined the suits. Almost all of them are fused. If you do go to Shanghai, the reputable HK tailor WW Chan (well-known to members of this forum) has 2 branches, offering high quality bespoke suits for quite a reasonable price (starting price is about USD 600 I think).
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot for all your information. Lydia, I do speak Chinese, but not well enough to haggle down and communicate buttonhole-canvassing details to a tailor. I'll have fun shopping and looking around but I'll probably stick to the sources in the US...
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Quote:
Are you Chinese, do you speak Chinese, or do you have a very competent translator?  That is the first step in getting  deals in China.  The hotel-based and other more well-known tailors who do competent work may be equipped to deal with English speakers, but they will certainly not be under 100 dollars.  You can certainly get suits made for 50 dollars or less even, but the best is for you to have a model for them to copy.  If you want something that is really custom-made, approaching bespoke, you are going to need to be extremely persistent, demanding, and detail-conscious.  Even skilled tailors will sacrifice quality in order to save a few dimes.  And they will sacrifice it in places you may not be able to notice right away.  You need to be sure about button holes (good buttons themselves), that they use good thread, not to mention the interfacing-which is going to be a hard thing to get across.  I never figured out how to explain fusing/canvassing effectively, so what I had made is fused.  You can go to the fabric market (mianliao shichang) of which there are two in Beijing, select your own a fabric and find a tailor there.  Just ask a cab driver to take you to the city's largest fabric market.  This is the cheapest method.  I would certainly recommend getting something made there, but mainly for the experience.  It will be a side of China, you haven't seen before.  Look at what you get as a very personalized piece - stick in a crazy silk lining - and not necessarily brioni quality.  That is unless you want to use a tailor that caters to foreigners and tourists.  In that case you should be able to get something decent, for about 200-500 dollars.  Even in this case, you better be insistent about what you want.  Make a list with numerous points.  You can get all of these from reading this forum.  Anything you don't mention, they will fuck up.
So true.  Chinese businessmen (tailors included) are born hustlers, it seems (btw, I'm of Chinese origin, speak reasonable Cantonese, and most of my mom's family are Hong Kong bred and born, so this is from experience, not prejudice).  I used to think that I'm pretty savvy and not at all embarassed as most westerners would be.  But without my cousins, uncles, etc... who grew up and live in these places, I would be taken to lunch.  And be forced to splurge for coffee and desert afterwards
Concerning business practices, there are probably some distinctions to be made between HK Chinese and mainland Chinese (and Taiwanese) -- but I am not qualified to do it (though I've a few opinions). Also, save Shanghai, I wonder if there were any centers of bespoke tailoring pre-Cultural Revolution? (Possibly Guangzhou - aka Canton). I wonder though, if that tailoring tradition and knowledge wasn't almost obliterated by well-known historical events.
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