Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tailor Made

Some of you may have heard about the great bargains that we find here in China. Well, one in particular, that I know that I will miss when I leave Xiamen, along with my other expat friends, will be our tailor.

Since many of the stores don't necessarily have our sizes, or in some cases, our taste in clothing, we have found the next best thing, having your clothes tailored made. According to some of the Chinese here, the best tailors are from Shanghai, which just by coincidence happens to be the one we go to. He's quite popular amongst the expats as he is very good and is quite inexpensive. You would never find his place unless someone has taken you, as it's among an older apartment complex off the main road, so you find him by word of mouth.

Typically we go to a material market first, where there is approximately 100 stores selling every type of material, you name it and this market pretty much has it. Off I went with a friend hunting for some material that would be appropriate for a 112 degree day. Yes, summer is soon approaching and once again the umbrellas will be out, the men will tuck their t-shirts under their arms, and the women will be wearing see through dresses, all in the attempt to stay cool.
Approximately 2 hours later I had material in hand and off we went to the tailor. Now granted his English is very limited, but pictures say 1000 words, so what one does is come prepared with pictures, usually taken from magazines or the Internet. You can also have him copy any article of clothing that you may already have. He understands the word copy. A few nods here and there and the odd "dui, dui" and he's good to go.
After a couple of weeks you return and your clothes are finished. In some cases, he's so busy he hasn't had a chance to complete your work, as was the case with me today, but it's the price you pay for having a good tailor. It's that time of year when all the expats are going back home, so all the women are out in full force trying to get their items completed. When I went to see him today, I ran into two more friends picking up clothes and requesting more clothes from him and hoping that he can have their clothes completed before they leave to go back home.
To give you an idea on pricing this was our list of clothes that we had made:
6 shirts - Tina
1 skirt - Tina
3 dresses - Tina
2 pr shorts- Mark
2 pr shorts - Tina
4 pr of pants - Mark
1 pr of pants - Tina
The cost for the tailor, 700 RMB, for and 550 RMB for the material. Approximate cost in USD 175.00.
The clothes that I dropped off a few weeks ago were to be ready this upcoming Monday. Upon my arrival, the material that was purchased were still in black bags, pretty much the same position that I left them. The tailor apologized profusely and I told him not to worry, suai bain le! It's not like we're going back home for the summer. Maybe we will model some of items that we have had made...


Amber said...

Hi - I'm living in Xiamen for a few months and would like to have some clothes tailor made... could you give me the location of your tailor? He sounds great.

Thanks - Amber

Mark said...


We have a copy of the business card for our tailor loaded into Flickr, if you print a copy of that a taxi could take you to him. You will need to be able to speak some Chinese.

If you want, send Tina or myself an e-mail and we can help. Tina needs to head back to him soon anyway to pick up more items.

This should be the link to the tailors card -

Let us know if you ever need anything, we're sure you'll love it here, Xiamen is a great place to live...

Amber said...

Thanks for the info and the offer! I'll send you two an email shortly.