How to effectively work with a foreign tailor online?
The internet has connected customers and clothiers in ways that were never possible before.
Contacting clothiers online because they are located somewhere in the other side of the world is usually what people do when there really is no tailor that they like anywhere near their area.
I'm in the United States and I used to have orders come in from all over the world for my custom clothier, A Tailored Suit (not active now).
I also have friends in Bangkok, in Hong Kong, in London, who are working with clients all over the world.
So once you decide to take this route, the post or UPS is going to be your friend since you're going to be FedExing the packages back and forth to your chosen tailor.
Problems you may encounter in the process:
There are a lot of fly-by-night shops and they will take your money and they will not give you really what you expected.
They will make something for you and they will use a counterfeit fabric.
They really don't want you as a repeat customer.
They just want that one-time business.
Bangkok has a very bad reputation for that when it comes to custom clothing, Vietnam as well, but for those of you that have traveled, there are gems out there.
2. Language barrier
Let's say, you're in Shanghai and you find what looks to be a great tailor, but he doesn't speak English – all of a sudden, you've got this language barrier that you've got to overcome.
This is a big one – if you can't clearly explain what you want from your clothing, it's going to be tough to get what you want. Relying on a non-native speaker's language or translations runs the risk of misunderstandings.
This is what makes one less likely to trust tailors located in the other side of the world. Distance. This is actually why people, for the longest time, get married to people that were within like a mile away.
For the most part of human history, human beings have preferred to couple with the one who lives very close. But as we've started to travel more, all of a sudden, that has shifted. I mean, I met my wife on the other side of the world.
The Secret to Making Long-Distance Tailoring Work
Overcoming the challenges of long-distance tailoring relies on two things:
The long and short of it is, at some point you're going to have to trust someone to do his or her job well. Finding someone that's easy to trust helps.
The more evidence there is of satisfied customers, long-term business relationships, so on and so forth, the easier it is to trust a tailor. But one way or another you're going to be putting your time and money in someone else's hands.
Talk to the tailor you're considering! Talk lots! Exchange e-mails, phone calls, Skype; whatever they want.
The more back-and-forth dialogue you have before money and cloth actually change hands, the better a sense you'll have for how reliable and professional the tailor seems. And on the flip side, he or she will have a much clearer picture of your expectations and desires.
Building a relationship with both trust and communication takes a little longer than we're sometimes trained to expect by the internet. It's not like shopping on Amazon – you don't put the tailor in your shopping cart and click “buy”.
Take your time, exchange a couple of communications, and evaluate whether or not you trust a tailor and his or her understanding of your needs.
If you need to, don't be afraid to walk away and look for someone you feel more comfortable doing business with – there are always more tailors out there.
Can this progress to a long term relationship?
In a sense, you can consider this as a start of a long-term relationship. Looking at it that way and being willing to put in a little bit extra work, can get you a much bigger reward.
Otherwise, you're going to be stuck working with perhaps the person that calls himself a tailor, but is not in reality and doesn't even know what he's doing. I would rather work with someone remotely.
Steps to Take to Insure a Good Product
I'm going to give you a few steps on how I do it, so let's go ahead and jump into it.
1. Find a Specialist
Different tailors make different products.
Their skills aren't identical.
If you're having a pair of trousers made, don't go to someone whose business is primarily in jackets, overcoats, and suits – sure, he makes trousers as part of the suits, but his focus and expertise is clearly in upper-body tailoring.
Look for someone who specializes in the item you're buying.
2. Send a sample
You'll be giving your tailor detailed measurements, but go one step further – pay the extra shipping to send him or her a similar garment that you already own and that fits exactly the way you like.
This becomes a “block pattern” that the tailor can use as a check against his own construction.
Go ahead and take some pictures of the garment and measure it yourself before you send it – that way the two of you can discuss what you liked about the old garment in detail as the process goes forward.
(Note: It may also be helpful to label the sample garment clearly with your name, so that it doesn't get lost in a shuffle of clothing.)
3. Start with one garment
So you've got the tailor, you've sent them the samples, and within usually a couple of weeks, they'll get you your first one back.
Now, you don't want to have five pairs made for you at one time.
Pay the extra postage and get the one pair delivered to you along with your sample. That way, you can inspect and you can make a decision, “Is it worth continuing this relationship?”
It does cost a little more upfront because you're having to spend 40 bucks to ship it to Bangkok, but if you're going to be making a smart investment on four to five pairs of really nice trousers such as grey flannels or cotton khakis, this is going to really pay off because you're going to get very close, if not perfect, on the first one.
And then you can go ahead and have them fulfill the rest of the order. So right there, we saw how that works with trousers. It can work with shirts as well.
Jackets are a little bit harder.
I do advise if you've got a jacket that is well-made but it's falling apart and you love everything about it, before you send any of these clothing off, make sure to take pictures and to measure it yourself.
That way you know what the measurements are while talking to your tailor on the phone or via email. Also make sure when you send it, it's labeled properly. I like to even staple my name and everything on the trousers because tailor shops, they get crazy.
Those guys are just throwing fabrics everywhere and doing it, flips over tables and stuff like that – no, they're not, but in my world I can imagine it because not much goes on in tailor shops.
And that's how I would break it out.
You can use these steps on shirts, jackets, vests, pretty much any piece of clothing out there.
Also, don't forget I have a copy of free 47-page e-book on Men's Style.
Just go grab it. It's yours free and you'll be on my email list. And every week, I try to send out good quality information or I let you know about things like the Style System or some of my other courses that I have going on.