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spoon tailor -hong kong bespoke operation in San Francisco

Gong Tao

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I was walking in San Francisco Chinatown today when I passed a tailor shop that looked intriguing. I went in and talked the the clerk for a while. Later I read some reviews on Yelp; some of this is based on what they told me, and some on information from Yelp reviews. The clerk is young and speaks English, the tailor is older and only speaks Cantonese. The tailor worked his whole career in Hong Kong, only recently moved to the US. The family still owns a tailor shop in Hong Kong, sewing is done there, measurements and fittings (and, I assume, cutting) are done in San Francisco. Buttonholes are handstitched, MOP buttons on shirts. They showed me the inside of basted jacket: free floating canvas but also a thin layer of fusing. They said I was the first customer to ever ask about the canvassing. They had Thomas Mason shirting, some Loro Piana and Holland and Sherry cloth for suits and jackets but most of the fabrics were cheaper stuff. They quoted me something like $850 for jacket or 1250 for a suit made of Holland and Sherry cloth. According to Yelp suits in lower quality fabrics could be as cheap as $500. Shirts start at about $80 and go up to $150 for Thomas Mason. Address is 716 Sacramento, e-mail [email protected]. They have a website at www.spoontailor.com, but it is not up and running yet. They said they have been there for about a year. The clerk's clothes did not look bad. Reviews on Yelp are uniformly good nnut that doesn;t mean anything. My impression is that this is a medium quality Hong Kong tailoring operation transplanted to America with little change in the way they do things or in the prices. I am considering getting a shirt made and I will certainly post the results if I do.
 

Archivist

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I walked past the shop this afternoon. They were closed, but looking in the window it seems nice. I'm interested to hear what you think of them.
 

binge

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Thanks for taking the time to write up an initial review. If you go for it, let us know how the shirt turns out.
 

Hans Cater

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Well that sounds like a great deal you've got there. I hope I could have a look on the shop or even get myself a suit or shirt but ***sighs*** OK I will check in my own area for similar stuffs.
 

Gong Tao

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I ordered my shirt today.

$85.

I was pleased with the measurement process and discussion of options. I thought he did a good job noting what was wrong with the shirt I was wearing. The selection of collars and cuffs is not great- not like Jantzen with 20 different types of collars. I think they have 7 or 8 types, I assume you could commission a variation.

There is the clerk guy who took my measurements and an old man who is the tailor who makes patterns and does the fittings. When I was there today the tailor had just done a fitting (which unfortunately I missed- I would really like to see one of their jackets on a customer) and was taking apart the basted jacket so that he could redo the pattern.

I will post pictures when the shirt is done. I am not expecting a miracle, but after several years of getting things made during trips to Hong Kong, a reasonably priced, competent shirtmaker in my home city would be great.
 

Jangofett

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Tailoring by Chinese immigrants is actually a great idea and much better than the Chinese takeaways and restaurants, even the many educated immigrants resort to, when they can't find employment in Western countries. I have often wonder why there are so few Chinese operating tailor shops in big and small western cities.

I think this is even more profitable than cooking as the cost of the food is a big cost in restaurants but for tailors, they make the most from their labour. I mean the cost of the material is actually pretty cheap in comparison to the final price one pays.

Tailoring though a skill, is no different from learning and mastering how to cook and in the beginning, one and one's family can do it all, including the sewing and stitching - the grunt work of tailors.

The only thing is the cost of cloth and materials, which I guess one can still import cheap from overseas.
 

williade

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Hello,

I also live in San Francisco and have been trying to find a reputable tailor. I'll definitely drop by and learn more about their offerings.

Thanks for the post.
 

Gong Tao

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OK, I got my first shirt. I was planning to post some pictures, but after spending 15 minutes trying to figure out how to do that I still have no idea, other than that it seems like it is going to be a major pain in the ass involving signing up with some photo website I will never use again. Either someone can give me some clear instructions on how to post an image, or pm me and and I can e-mail you pictures.

The fit is good. One cuff button needed to be moved about a quarter of an inch (2 button cuffs, one was not in the right place). Everything else was good. Fabric is not bad, I got one of the cheaper fabrics. Buttons are good. I plan an getting more shirts in the future. I can probably get the same quality slightly cheaper when I am in Hong Kong, but it is less hassle to get them where I live and adjustments and customer service will be much easier here. They are pleasant to deal with. Cost was $85.

Other things I learned: pattern making and cutting are done here, then the pieces are sent to HK to be be basted together, then the garment comes back here for fitting. I was told that about half the sewing is done in Hong Kong and half here. I saw somebody having a jacket fitting and the jacket looked pretty good. I think the quality is similar to (or maybe better than) Peter Lee. Not the same level as Chan, of course.

They have decent selection of Holland and Sherry fabrics, although they said there is little interest from their customers so far- people who specify fabrics are looking for Loro Piana or Zegna (which, in the clerk's Cantonese accent, is pronounced "Zanger"- I didn't know what he was talking about for a minute).
 

imatlas

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I was there today! I'm ordering a trial shirt, and we had an in depth conversation about whether he'll do CMT for shirts. He's game for it, if he can make the cost structure work. Shipping and customs are the biggest obstacles, of course. It works out to about $70-75 a shirt to do CMT with PL (including shipping fabric to HK), so if Spoon is reasonably close to that and slightly better quality then it's a great deal.

He laughed when I mentioned that I get shirts from Peter Lee, saying that he has other customers who use them (possibly referring to you). He also claims that some of his sewers work for PL as well. He's hoping to have Alumo shirtings in the near future, and is looking into other lines as well - I suggested G&R as a good option to look into. For the moment I'd rather source my own, though...he's essentially charging $50 a yard for TM Silverline, and better quality fabrics are available for less here.
 

comrade

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Hmmm. Did you give them a shirt or shirts to copy?
If so, was that successful?
 

Gong Tao

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Originally Posted by comrade
Did you give them a shirt or shirts to copy?


No, but they were very interested in taking measurements off of my best-fitting shirt.
 

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