5 best Bangkok tailors
When it comes to Bangkok tailors, a suit can be as expensive as you want it to be. Or as cheap.
Unfortunately, Thailand's reputation for pushy, unreliable "suits you, sir" tailors who offer too-good-to-be-true bargains deters many potential dandies from seeking made-to-measure pleasure. In a sea of "Ken and Kenneth's," the challenge of choosing the right cloth and being fitted for a personalized suit can be daunting.
That's why the smart money chooses tried-and-tested tailors with client lists that include household names and fabrics fine enough to be buried in. Here are five of the best.
1. Narin Couture
Located just steps from the Nana BTS Skytrain station, 14-year-old Narin Couture is headed up by a trilingual quirky couturier with a quick grin.
Despite having been born into this industry as a second-generation tailor, Bangkok tailor Narin spent years fine-tuning his trade at "École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne" in France, a prestigious fashion school whose alumni list includes Yves Saint Laurent and Issey Miyake.
Narin Couture shop carries a wide range of mostly imported cashmere, cotton and wool from renowned mills the likes of Scabal, Holland & Sherry and John Cavendish, as well as specialty fabric such as Vicuña wool.
Narin doesn't dress-and-tell, but counts prime ministers, ambassadors and Hollywood stars amongst his client list. His detailed workmanship has even caught the eye of a distinguished company in the United States, which sells his clothes under their own fashion label.
A suit (two-piece) starts at 10,000 baht and takes about two weeks to finish; women's dresses depend on fabric and style.
Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Between Sukhumvit Soi 8 & 10. +66 (0)2 251 9237. www.narin-couture.com
2. Rajawongse Clothier
Jesse and Victor make up the affable father-and-son team that runs this cozy Bangkok tailor located two doors down from the Landmark Hotel, tailoring exclusively for men.
The changing room is covered floor-to-ceiling with name cards of the customers Rajawongse has served in its 50-year history -- presidents and politicians from the United States, head honchos of Fortune 500 companies and a host of global law enforcement officials from the CIA to Interpol -- a hall of fame so impressive that some of the name cards have been pilfered by cheeky collectors.
Egyptian cotton is used for dress shirts and suits are cut from high quality wool and cashmere fabric, about 95 percent of which is imported from Italy.
New customers can order dress shirts directly online following detailed measuring instructions. For old clients who have been fitted at the shop before, Rajawongse can readily supply additional garments using measurements kept on file.
A suit (two-piece) starts at 12,000 baht and takes about one week to finish.
Open Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Between Sukhumvit Soi 4 & 6, close to the Landmark Hotel. +66 (0)2 255 3714. www.dress-for-success.com
Picking up the tricks of the trade from his old man, a seasoned tailor who once ran shops in Singapore, Perry has been making customized suits for ladies and gents since 1974.
As with most high-end Bangkok tailors, the majority of fabrics are imported from Europe, including Dormueil, Ermenegildo Zegna and Loro Piana.
Widely reputed for their immaculate tailoring, Perry's also carries a decent selection of shirtings.
In addition to dressing numerous ambassadors and the Thai hi-so crowd, Perry's has also made clothes for the Duke of Edinburgh and Robin Williams, with framed photos of the two unlikely stablemates hanging proudly on the wall.
Perry himself is usually around and happy to discuss options such as pick stitching and button material choices with clients, and his team of worker bees are easily capable of shortening delivery time for the "dandy-on-the-run."
A suit (two-piece) from this Bangkok tailor starts at 18,000 baht and takes about one week to finish.
Open Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. On Silom Road next to the BTS station, opposite Silom Complex. +66 (0)2 233 9236. firstname.lastname@example.org
4. July Tailor
Don't let the faded interiors of this Silom shop fool you. Sompob and his son Praphab make clothes fit for a king -- literally.
Started in 1939 by Sompob's father, July Tailor has been the appointed tailor to H.M. King of Thailand for 50 years, and other members of the royal family for 40 years, a service which earned them a coveted royal emblem in 2007.
Famed for their delicate workmanship and quality materials, they were handpicked to dress all 21 Asia Pacific leaders at the APEC Summit 2003 in shirts made of Thai silk spun with pure gold yarn.
In addition to Western suits for men and pantsuits for women, they also create intricate Thai-style uniforms and outfits, making them the go-to tailor for high-level military and government officials, not to mention visiting dignitaries, local and expat business folk.
One of the reasons this shop ranks as one of the top Bangkok tailors is that over 90 percent of the fabrics used are from Italian mills, including Marzoni and Ermenegildo Zegna, with the remainder imported from Britain.
A suit (two-piece) starts at 20,000 baht and takes about one week to finish.
Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 50 meters down Soi Saladaeng from Silom Road. on the right-hand side. +66 (0)2 233 0171. www.julytailor.com
Bangkok's first dedicated "fine shirt shop" was opened in 2004 by a group of entrepreneurs who saw the gap in the market for premium English-style gentlemen's shirts.
Selling both ready-to-wear and made-to-measure shirts, Duly recently expanded their offerings to offer a full bespoke shirt tailoring service, with the whole nine yards of customizable attributes -- 16 collar designs, 10 cuff options and other intricacies ranging from button hole colors to dart details.
Pure cotton fabrics are used, including Sea Island cotton (aka "King of Cotton"), and Giza Cotton, grown exclusively in the Kafir S'Ad region along the Nile (aka "Queen of Cotton"), imported from top Italian mills such as Tessitura Monti and Thomas Mason.
Duly shirts claim to be around 40 percent cheaper than their brand name counterparts. To complete the classic outfit, they also carry ready-to-wear trousers, wool jackets, leather shoes,and Tateossian cufflinks to snazz up the look.
A tailor-made shirt starts at 4,550 baht and takes about one week to finish.
On the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 49 and 49/3, 800 meters down from main Sukhumvit Road. +66 (0) 2 662 6647. www.laladuly.co.th