Many people come to Hoi An specifically to shop for custom made clothes or shoes. Others have no intention of shopping, but quickly become enthralled by the 100’s of tailors and leather shops and soon enough find themselves getting measured for a suit or a dress or shoes. But, let’s be honest, finding a good shop is no easy task. The streets are lined with shops, ladies will come up to you on bikes and beg you to visit their shop, TripAdvisor is filled with reviews by people who have only written one review their entire life (which I pretty much always assume are fake), most of the shops pay out commissions so you can never be sure if a personal recommendation is real or just a ploy to make some extra cash, and what you see isn’t always what you get. So, let me tell you about where we went.
Robert wanted some linen shirts so the first place we stopped was Mr. Xe. We first visited Mr. Xe on our very first trip to Vietnam back around 2005 or so. Mr. Xe made me a couple of skirts that I wore until a year or so ago when they finally gave out. He made Robert a suit — the only suit Robert has worn since then (he even wore it to our wedding) — and several button down shirts with French cuffs. Although his storefront doesn’t look that impressive, going back to Mr. Xe was a no-brainer. Robert got three linen shirts made ($25 each) and couldn’t be happier with two of the three — the third seems to fit a bit wonky now that he has worn it, but it isn’t terrible. If you want shirts or suits or work dresses made, this is your shop.
My task was a little bit harder. You see, I wanted skorts. I absolutely live in skorts. All the benefits of a skirt, but with the modesty of shorts — you get to look like a girl and play like a boy. Mr. Xe doesn’t make skorts (or, at least he didn’t in 2015, I completely forgot to ask this time but I’m assuming the answer would be the same). But, try as I might, I could not find any reviews of any tailors that had made skorts. And, the tailor we used back in 2015 was no longer around. And, some tailors I spoke to didn’t even know what a skort was — I sure wasn’t going to ask them to make something. So, initially I went to a tailor recommended by the guy that ran the food tour we took. She seemed promising. She knew what a skort was at least. But, um, wow, the final products were a mess. They both looked like burlap sacks. The shorts were inside out. The front was longer than the back and she told me it was because of my “bum.” Well, anyone who has met me knows that my belly is far larger than my “bum” — if any side is going to be short it is the front — so that explanation didn’t fly. And, when I put one on to take a photo of a “bad” skort, the zipper ripped out. To her credit, she did refund me half the cost so I’m not going to name names here (I am being way too nice, as her quality was abysmal and the skorts saw the inside of a garbage can instead of the inside of my suitcase).
Thankfully, a friend of ours came to the rescue. She had used Two Ladies Tailor Shop to have dresses made a few years ago. We walked in and instantly got a good vibe. Two Ladies understood exactly what I wanted. They charged less than the first tailor I tried ($35 per skort). They truly seemed grateful for the business. And, they knocked it out of the park — the skorts fit perfectly on the very first fitting with zero adjustments needed. I instantly ordered two more skorts from them, and those likewise fit perfectly. And then, after wearing my new skorts, I went back and bought two more! I couldn’t be happier with my skorts and I would recommend Two Ladies for casual skirts or skorts. I’m guessing they are good at other things as well (some of the clothes in the shop were beautiful and I saw a customer who seemed very happy with her dress), but I don’t have first hand experience.
Once the clothes were out of the way, we started thinking about shoes. One thing that never lasts when you are traveling non-stop is shoes. And, we both desperately needed new good sandals.
We were immediately impressed when we walked into Friendly III. We met the owner, who described their satisfaction guaranteed policy — you don’t pay if you don’t like the finished product and the product is guaranteed for 6 months after purchase — they claim they will even reimburse repairs made in the U.S. Friendly makes a ton of gorgeous sandals, and I wanted to buy about 10 pairs, but most of them have hard soles without arch support — great for a few hours when you want to look good but not at all conducive to long-term sightseeing. But, they also make Birkenstock knock-offs with softer soles and decent arch support, so that is the route we went. After the debacle with our first skorts tailor, we decided Robert would order a pair of sandals first. If he liked them, then I would order a pair. Robert quickly got to work looking for a sample sandal he liked — once that was decided he got to pick the leather, the lining for the shoe bed, and the buckle color from a ton of samples. Not surprisingly, he went for black, black and silver. A day later, his sandals were done
and he loved them. So, then it was my turn. I didn’t like any of the sample sandals so just showed the shop an on-line photo and away they went. And, as it turns out, when we ordered my pair, we got a $10 discount. So, two pairs of custom-made sandals for $80. It is going to take me awhile to get use to such clunky sandals….getting old and needing comfortable shoes sucks! (Edited to add: We were ultimately very disappointed with these shoes. Mine turned my feet black every time I wore them. Both pairs quickly became uncomfortable as the cork sole hardened. And, they are now falling apart. The soles of both pairs are already shredding and the cork sole on my pair is cracking. We would not recommend getting shoes made at Friendly anymore).
If you visit Hoi An, have some fun, find a tailor, find a shoe shop, and have some items made. Just don’t go hog wild until the shop proves they can make something to your liking.
In Turkey I tried to use a tailor that everyone Mark knew had used. But I wanted low rise slacks. The guy had never done that before and was so confused so of course it appeared that he decided he’d measured wrong and added a few inches to the crotch length and they were way too big. Of course I had no time to go back for a fitting so I just gave all of them to my mom and they fit her. I was so bummed.
Lol! That is too funny!