Bangkok tailors

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by MikeF, Jun 3, 2003.

  1. 1000km

    1000km New Member

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    Rajawongse near Sukhumvit Soi 4 makes excellent suits. Many of the embassy staff use them and with good reason. I've had two suits made, one with full lining and one with half lining. Both beautifully constructed and fitted.

    http://www.dress-for-success.com
     


  2. Ecstasy

    Ecstasy Senior member

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    'Great' one-post-wonder. The Rajas are a huge tourist trap AFAIK. What's worse, there are two outlets or more, I believe.
     


  3. Halifax

    Halifax Senior member

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    Like I've mentioned before, my issue with CTM is that I have no avenue to source my own fabric at reasonable prices. I presume you source your materials from a local wholesaler in the States (or Europe) at prices I couldn't dream of getting in Australia as a single retail customer purchasing small amounts of cloth. Considering Thailand is well known for silk I would have thought that some of the domestic fabrics would be worth using (Jim Thompson would be a famous example). Obviously I'm keen to stay away from anything Chinese.

    On the matter of the import taxes, I had difficulty finding the exact rules; does it apply to only European textiles or all foreign textiles? I remember a local MTM merchant mentioned he may be interested in developing a relationship with a Thai tailor because the free trade agreement made it attractive. His primary concern was a matter of trust (or lack there of) due to his limited experience in their market.

    You also mentioned not to expect a European styled jacket in Thailand. Are you referring to their obsession with box-shaped cloths with no contours. Surely if I insisted on a decent amount of waist suppression, high and tight arm holes and minimal structure in the shoulders I will avoid this problem - especially with Narrin or Tanika. I would expect her to adhere to every one of my requests for the non-negotiable 28,000THB she quoted me (VBC fused jacket and trousers). Her shirt prices were much more reasonable (with the expectation of quality cloth, cut, and stitching).

    Your previous experience has piquéd (sorry, couldn't help myself) my interest and I would appreciate some of your insight. Let me know if you would be happy to answer some particular questions.


    From what I can tell, the main two are Rajawongse Clothier and Raja's Fashion (who are run by cousins) plus multiple bogus tailors trying to cash in on the name. I've heard so many mixed stories about the main two I have no confidence in using them. One of my travel companions has using Rajawongse multiple times and swears by them. I give some creedence to his opinion but I've heard equally vehement opinions against them. None of these opinions come from people who own Brioni, Oxxford, Canali, Tom Ford, Zegna, etc... I think they'd be impressed by Suit Supply. Not that I'm looking for a $4000 suit, just giving some context.

    Definitely on both accounts; 31 days and counting.
     


  4. 1000km

    1000km New Member

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    Thanks for the welcome. My first post yes, but I'm bonafide. I lived in Bangkok for four years as a diplomat. After moving to New York City I bought suits from Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren. The suits aren't of the same calibre as Rajawongse.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013


  5. S K M

    S K M Senior member

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    Funny that people (and especially Rajawongse) mentions that many diplomats use them, since I can think of no reason that that should be an indicator of good quality and/or style. As someone who works with diplomats all day, I think it's safe to say that they're not in any way better dressed than other people wearing suits every day – in fact, I reckon that diplomats are not even better dressed than politicians.


    To be fair I don't know the exact rules regarding import taxes. All I can tell is that choosing the fabric at the tailor adds a very significant amount to the price of the shirt or suit, so I've always chose to bring it myself. When I send fabric to Narin, he always asks me to declare it as cloth samples without commercial value, to let it by-pass customs.

    As regards the style of Thai tailors it sounds like you've been reading the Lonely Planet thread on Thai tailoring. Nothing wrong with that, there's great advise to pick up. Nevertheless, there's so much more to know about bespoke tailoring than simply the terms "high armhole", "lightly padded shoulders", "high crotch" etc. – it all depends on what you expect. If you expect a suit slightly above a European OTR suit, then Thai tailoring is the thing for you (although a fully canvassed suit would be just as expensive as a (fused) designer OTR suit). If you, on the other hand, expect an english or italian style bespoke suit at a fraction of the cost in Europe, you'll be disappointed. If Thai tailors (or indian or chinese for that matter) could provide customers with the same levels of craftsmanship and quality as can be had in London and Naples, all those European tailors would be out of business. But there's a reason they're still there, and that's becasue they've got a sense of style and handcraft that Thai tailors will never have. No matter how many sartorial sentences you'll learn, your tailor will have a sense of style that is different from yours, and that regards not only shoulder pads and amount of waist suppression, but the overall cut and balance of the jacket. It would be foolish to think that a Thai tailor can cut and sew a jacket that will be identical to that of an English tailor, just as it would be foolish to think that an English tailor can cut you an Italian style un-padded unlined jacket – in bespoke it's all a matter of terroir.

    All this is not to say that there are no good deals to be had i Thai tailoring, because there is. You just have to adjust you expectations accordingly, and don't expect a limousine for the price of a Fiat, so to speak :)

    But do enjoy Bangkok, it's a wonderful city!

    Cheers,
    SKM
     


  6. Sam Hober

    Sam Hober Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    We do not work with any other companies.

    I also feel that you should look first to body size rather than lapels.
     


  7. jweiht

    jweiht Well-Known Member

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    New forumer here and want to share some experience from BKK.


    I have previously made suits from Rajawongse and Narin, and let's just say it wasn't good.

    Rajawongse - Suit was decent for the price compared to what Singapore tailors offered. Pants were decent, but shirts were crappy. The service was also pretty sucky if you are not caucasian.

    Narin - I expected alot from him but it was the biggest disappointment with any tailor I ever had. He is pretty arrogant, but I put up with that since he had a reputation of being good. He doesn't really listen much, and only does what he think is right, in that case why do i bother coming for fittings?

    The pants was great, but the jacket was horrendous!! I'm not a big guy, and he made it look like i bought the suit from a kids section of the departmental store. The sleeves were short, the jacket was short, and it looks like you bought some cheap ass jacket which shrink during washing.

    I gave up talking to him about correcting the suit, because he insisted it was okay and he wasn't to be blamed. Total waste of my time and money!!!

    Last month I was in BKK again, and wanted to try a good tailor. SO i narrowed down to Tailor on Ten and Tanika.

    ToT - They had a better selection of clothes for shirts, but the fabrics for suit was limited. Mainly Merino from Australia. I did not make an appointment, and they seem pretty disinterested if you have not made any appointments. The photos I seen of their suits are a little off for me, and I prefer pretty much a classic english cut.

    Tanika - Went in and was warmly welcome by an elderly lady. She had lots of knowledge tailoring and fabrics, and they do have a good selection of material for suits/pants, but limited for shirts. They are pretty expensive, almost like Narin and non negotiable, which I appreciate as it means they take pride in their craft.

    They have in house tailors. I settled for a suit that cost about US$800 and fused as I didn't wanna break the bank for a floating canvas after my nightmare at Narin. I was very happy during the 1st fitting for my Jacket, and 2nd fitting for my pants. They got most things right which we discussed and communicated, and I'm glad there were no major faults. It was just a matter to tweaking and get it to fit better.

    The shirt though was good but not great, I preferred a more fitting cut but they strongly advised to keep some material so as not to restrict my movement.

    If the suit turns out well, I'll be happy to make a few more suits. Just a pity they don't do CTM, as they do price the european brands pretty high. A peacoat for sure!!

    Okay, why dont I make a suit in Singapore instead? Well, I have yet to find one that I like which I like and isn't overpriced, or rather you don't get what you pay for. I heard good things about some tailors like Iris, but I do not like the cut. I can see some people loving that cut, but I find that they pretty much make their "standard" suits to fit the customer. It does seem to make the person wearing it look like a beefy guy who works out in the gym and have big chests and guns. Pretty exaggerated, but appreciated here where the lousy tailors make a suit that is straight and formless. The workmanship seems to get alot of good reviews though.
     


  8. S K M

    S K M Senior member

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    Wow, I'm surprised that your experience with Narin was so bad. Indeed, he's got his own rather stiff style in approaching his costumers, but I don't regard him as inflexible. In fact, I think it's a quality mark when tailors don't obey to everything you do, but guide you according to some of their own standards. After all, they have made more suits than the client has. That said, in Asia their sense of style is rather different from the European ditto, so it takes quite a patient effort from the be speaker to get something wearable. Moreover, that prices are non negotiable is another plus in my book, and it sets both Narin and Tanika apart from 99% of (crappy) Thai tailors. I'm exited to see your results from Tanika, I've heard much good about them. Most importantly that they do floating canvas which is something I swear by. Here's some photos from a suit I had made at Narin, which I think is quite okay, though it could be argued, and rightly so, that the jacket should be longer. However, it was a choice of mine, that I would probably like to change if I come around again.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    SKM
     


  9. jweiht

    jweiht Well-Known Member

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    Hi SKM,

    thanks for your post!

    I was very clear to him that I preferred a classic english cut, and I'm not one for the trendier Asian or European cut.

    Anyhow, its over and I dont wanna come across as I'm trying to hurt his business. The pants were good, but I couldn't wear the jacket and have thrown it away.

    I'll be heading back next month for a final fitting and collection at Tanika, and I'm looking forward to it!

    I was told that Narin is the son of Tanika, there goes the mystery :)
     


  10. Halifax

    Halifax Senior member

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    Gentlemen,

    I've been a little slow compiling my write up of Tanika. I had three shirts, two trousers, a two piece unstructured suit, and a waistcoat (not matching the suit) made when I visited in Novemeber. Overall, I had a favourable experience with Tanika and will definitely return. She does nice hand details which make their prices very reasonable.

    The elderly lady is Yuwadee, who is the face of the company (phone, email, shop front). She is Tani's mother and has looked after the family business for over 30 years. Tani is the current house tailor, who trained in Italy (Accademia Nazionale Dei Sartori). I'm unsure of any relationship between the Tanika family and Narin, but that does not me there is none. I read somewhere the reason Narin has not moved into other Asian markets directly is related to the fact that he comes from a family of cloth merchants; such a move would hurt the family business. The fact that Tanika doesn't offer CTM may stem from the same reason (ie it would hurt the family cloth merchant business), which could loosely imply the two tailors are related, but that is a lot of assumptions.

    Anyhow, stay tuned as I will post my write up in the coming days (it takes time getting second opinions to validate my conclusions).

    Cheers,

    HPH
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014


  11. jweiht

    jweiht Well-Known Member

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    Looking forward, PICs please :)
     


  12. Halifax

    Halifax Senior member

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    Absolutely. I have several from within the shop and during a fitting (none of Yuwadee or Tani but I think one of the assistants can be seen in these photos; I didn't catch his name), several complete outfit 'action' shots, and tonnes of close-ups. It just takes time coordinating the pics and statements into a coherent, flowing narrative worth reading. I'm hoping that members on this forum who know more than I will chime in and ask to see specific parts of the garments/stitching and give their informed opinion of Tanika's work.
     


  13. Halifax

    Halifax Senior member

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    PS As an aside, I thoroughly enjoyed staying at Hotel Muse on Thanon Lang Suan. I highly recommend that hotel.
     


  14. Halifax

    Halifax Senior member

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    Prologue:

    During my recent seven day visit to Thailand, I decided to take the plunge and finally try one of the Bangkok tailors. There is a vast array of options, and even after hours and hours of internet research, I still had a rather large 'short' list (see previous posts on this thread). On top of this, the ever present danger of choosing a tailor based on internet research, which is easily misleading for a variety of reasons, was on my mind.

    In fact, my attention was drawn to the tailors called "Tanika" due to the lack of available information. Having only read a couple of positive reviews of the tailors spattered around the internet, and with almost no internet presence, I decided a visit was in order.

    I sent an email to [email protected] several months before departure to check that my constraining schedule left enough time for the tailors and to see what kind of response I would receive. A reply appeared in my inbox within a day and the news was good. Not only could it be done, but hand detailing was still possible.

    Being sceptical that my itinerary left much time for garments to be hand crafted, I got a little pushy with my emails and correspondence subsequently ended. Clearly, there was no negotiating on price or quality. Another good sign but unfortunately I had burnt my only means of communicating with the tailors to find this out.

    Fortunately, Kiwiman PM'ed me and he and I entered a long an entertaining correspondence which eventually lead to us meeting during my trip. He also kindly offered to arrange an appointment with Tanika on my behalf, which was advantageous for reasons I will mention later.

    So the stage was set. With Baht in my hand and a head full of sartorial dreams, I hopped on my flight to Bangkok.

    More to follow...
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014


  15. Halifax

    Halifax Senior member

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    The Appointment:

    As I approached Tanika's understated store front on Thanon Sukhumvit, I saw the 'older lady' that others have referred to through the window. I had arranged to meet Kiwiman before entering the store but he was running late, so I entered the shop incognito. I spent several minutes browsing through the clothes on the rack, before I noticed something on the wall. It was a qualification awarded by the Accademia Nazionale Dei Sartori to Tanisara.


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    A phone call disturbs the peace. The old lady calls out to me, asks for my identity; she notifies me that my friend, Kiwiman, was running late. After beginning a dialogue with the older lady, who speaks English quite well (not fluently, but my Thai is non-existent). I find out her name is Yuwadee and she is the mother of Tani, the recipient of the Italian award and the head tailor of Tanika. Conveniently, Kiwiman and Tani arrive at almost the same time and my appointment begins. Tani and I begin to discuss the types of garments and styles that interested me. This discussion was invaluable as we exchanged ideas whilst converging towards something that I would be comfortable to wear. It was assuring to know that I had conveyed my ideas directly to the tailor, which seems to be uncommon according to several criticisms that I've read regarding Thai tailors.
    The fact that she took time away from her studio to speak with me said volumes about this little family run tailor shop. After a hour or so, I had decided upon three shirts, a pair of cotton trousers and an unstructured linen suit to suit to wear in the Australian summer season.

    I strongly recommend making an appointment as a courtesy, but also because meeting Tani might not have happened without one.

    In a matter of minutes the measurements are taken, a deposit is paid and I walk out of the store feeling confident I my purchase.

    More to follow...
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014


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