A couple of months ago, another traveler asked us what we were planning to do in our afterlife, you know, when we return to something that resembles normalcy. The name stuck and ever since then we’ve been discussing this theoretical post-trip existence as our afterlife.
For us the afterlife is going to require a few adjustments, not least of which is our wardrobe. It may sound ridiculous, but I’ve been living in cargo capri’s, stretchy black pants and wicking shirts for almost 2 years. Look at our pictures, you’ll see its the same rotation of shirts and bottoms in every photo almost since the beginning. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, that probably won’t remain the daily wardrobe in the afterlife. It just so happens that the ancient city of Hoi An, Vietnam is also the center of inexpensive custom tailoring in Southeast Asia, so we decided to take full advantage.
There are hundreds of tailors in Hoi An and as you can imagine the quality spectrum ranges. We read reviews, advice and all sorts of tips on buying clothes in Hoi An, but when it came down to it we relied on our instinct and headed right to the Cloth Market. Although there are tons of really nice tailor shops lining the major streets we were most comfortable in the chaos of the market. We went by a few stalls, looked at some samples and fabrics and then spoke with a few vendors.
Hiding in a back corner for a moment to check a price tip on the Internet, we were literally accosted by a bright eyed and bubbly vendor. Pulling us towards her shop we immediately liked her style of sale.
Energetic but not pushy, we checked out her samples, fabrics and nailed down the details. We made a number of changes to the suit and shirts Danny ordered and by that afternoon we started with the fittings.
We ordered a whole variety of stuff from several shops. As Danny said later that night, “I appreciate that my wife decided to spread her business all over town.” That pretty much summed up our next day, running from fitting appointment to fitting appointment. In the end we had a duffel bag filled with 16 shirts, 4 pairs of shoes, 2 suits, 1 dress and a new winter coat…all made exclusively for us, with fabrics of our choosing, and cut to fit our bodies as they exist now; hopefully our afterlife will be kind to us.
Standing in the Cloth Market at 6pm the evening before we left, watching the tailor mark Danny’s jacket to make minor adjustments I had to run to my own final fitting. Waiting and waiting at the shop, they told me the skirt was on the way. Forty-five minutes later who should arrive? The same tailor. He and I shared a secret laugh and shook hands before he drove off into the night. From what I can tell he was probably working with several shops in town.
Was it worth it? We think so, but only time will tell. It certainly was a bit frustrating, but having read all the tips and advice online certainly helped. We had to be picky, assertive and very specific, but in the end I think it all worked out well. Maybe you’ll be the best judge…
IF YOU GO: Plan to spend at least two days in Hoi An if you want to have clothes made, order early on your first day and you’ll have plenty of time for fittings. Ask around for recommendations, but be careful, many hotels get kickbacks or own their own tailor shop so you might not get an objective opinion or recommendation. Be specific, even about the small things when you order. Be clear on when you should expect to see the garment, but be realistic. We were very happy with our clothes from ‘My’ Tailor Shop inside the Cloth Market as well as the shoes we purchased from Tan Loc just outside the cloth market. To travel to or from Hoi An you will need to first go to Danang as that is the closest airport and rail station.