Monday, October 7, 2013

Tailor-made suits can be had for a steal

The article of "Putting Customers in Charge of Design" reminded me of other renown tailor-made services I encountered in Asia. Though the business process is not as advanced (some of them don't have a website) as that of Blank Label's, the supply chain behind that is worth researching and tailor-made services start to assume of role of attractions for international tourists.

The famous Indian tailor in Hong Kong, Manu (usually known as his father's name Sam), as you can read from an article on Forbes, has served prestigious clients such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, as well as Reagan and Bush Sr. and other big names such as Prince Charles, Michael Jackson, Tony Blair and Richard Gere. His shop is not located in any downtown-area malls, but in a small alley of Kowloon. Though there are other well-known tailors in Hong Kong, for the same quality achieved by savvy tailors, Sam's is charging less than half the price. The shop is passed down from generation to generation, and now Manu is grooming his son for the 3rd generation. The store can serve half a dozen people at a time, and it is always full due to its prime location near Peninsula Hong Kong Hotel and endless repeat guests (and their references!)

The astounding customer loyalty can be shown in the following facts: "Until the 1997 handover of Hong Kong, Sam’s was the official choice for British military uniform tailoring in the city, and on its 50th birthday stamp was issued honoring the store. "The Sam's is such a huge success is due to numerous reasons, which include the true gift of style of Manu, diligent work (they even have a 24-hour unit for cruise passengers)and attention to detail, an uncanny eye for guest recognition and excellent customer service (they ship to any hotels in Hong Kong free of charge and ship internationally at a reasonable price. 

From my point of view, the reason why tailor-made suits are better than any ready-to-wears is that no customer is born to be "model-sized", thus can not fit entirely into a specific size perfectly. And since ready-to-wear is mass-production, the attention to detail of each item cannot be guaranteed. However, since the design (tailoring), manufacturing and customer service are handled at the same site (usually under the supervision of the shop-owner him- or herself), and the prices are unbeatable, the tailor-made services is definitely a fav for every customer, including those famous customers like actors, politicians, athletes, etc. 

In my hometown Shanghai, my mom and I are big fans of tailor-made services. Usually the mall of these tailor boutiques are located either near textile marketplace in Huangpu District or near tourist attractions. Those near tourist attractions usually charge higher, and those near textile markets charges less for a same type of suits made of the same material. I first got introduced to these tailors by some Australian and French clients and expat friends in Shanghai. Every time they paid a business trip in Shanghai, this is the first stop they stop by the first moment they arrive here. Sometimes, they not only requests suits for themselves, but also bring sizes of their kids who cannot come here to satisfy their closet upgrading requirements overseas. 

The way they do business is unique as well. You can bring a fashion magazine with you, pointing out which style worn by models you want, and tailors will suggest materials and colors to you and even make modification suggestions according to your figure on the spot. The textile is within walking distance, since the boutiques both do businesses in tailor-made and textile selling. Even if the store doesn't have the cloth you want, they can get the textile from near the market within 10 minutes for you. The manufacturing facility varies from shop to shop. Some tailors work within the shop, while some have studios at home or in another site, depending on their shop space and number of tailors. Usually the lead time is about 3-6 days, depending on your schedule to come for fittings and the complexity of your order. Last February, when the great Russian cellist Mischa Maisky came to Shanghai for his concert, he asked me whether I can take him to those tailor-made shops to make a new suit, since the old ones he wore during his performances for 7 years ago was just worn out. Can anyone tell which artist referred him to these tailors in Shanghai? Maybe his wife the pianist Aldrich?

And since this service is becoming more and more internationally well-known, local tailors start to adapt themselves to the changing market. Two years ago, tailors tend to distribute business cards to their current clients for future business referrals. Though some tailors cannot speak English themselves, they had the intention to hire bilingual sales associate both in shop and online to deal with international clients. Now, as e-commerce is gaining status in the marketplace, some local tailors invest in website building in both Chinese and English to better promote themselves via the Internet. And just like Blank Label, online order is also possible is sufficient funding is poured into the website building, but might lack some details compared to Blank Label's service. 

Though this tailoring service is enticing and seems to be a win-win situation for both customers and shop owners, I have doubts over certain issues as below:
1. Since the receipt is the only proof of such transaction, is there is a customer complaint that cannot be addressed, is there a legal way to protect such businesses?
2. Most of these transactions are international, and some tailors promised to ship overseas at a reasonable cost. If there is an item needs to be returned, given the high international shipping fee, do you think it is a good deal for the tailor compared to a local transaction under the same context?

What's your thought about this industry?
Attached is a youtube video and the website of a tailor-made shop in Shanghai. Please be aware that Youtube cannot be accessed in Mainland China, so the business really made efforts to market their shop internationally...

3  Introduction of Tony the Tailor, one of the most prestigious tailor-made service provider in Shanghai

1 comment:

  1. Suit fabric is the most important things for bespoke tailored suits. if your fabric is high quality then you can get a royal look to your custom suit and also can be develop personality


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