Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago

Suits You, Sir

Posted by MyLaowai on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So, you are in China, and you want some clothes? Every city and town has a ‘fabric market’, where you can choose the fabric you want, and have the clothes you desire tailored at a reasonable price. You will enjoy the high quality and low cost, and you may even indulge in a little friendly bargaining with the tailor. Enjoy!

Right, that’s the bit for the dumbfuck tourists out of the way. When I want clothes, here’s what I do:

I go to Thailand.

China is a bit problematic when it comes to clothing, and footwear, and, well pretty much everything else actually. For one thing, Chinese are not merely smaller than real people, they have entirely different body shapes: no hips, no ass, no tits, legs that are as well-muscled as chopsticks, complete lack of chest and shoulders, flat heads, flat feet. So finding clothes you can wear isn’t just a matter of merely scaling up the stuff they wear. And ‘tailor’ or not, no one in China seems to comprehend that what you want to buy might not be what they want to sell. As for quality, well that’s a joke on a good day. The fabric you think you are buying, well, it isn’t. The buttons are made of soda-biscuits, thread dissolves in water, colours run and everything shrinks upon washing. The stitching is barely enough to hold the stuff together on the rack, and no further. And the price? Outrageous!

When I want clothes, I generally take a long weekend, leaving Friday after work and returning Monday night. I fly to Bangkok, where I meet my regular tailor (note: always go with an Indian or Nepalese tailor). He looks up his records, measures me for any changes, and gets right to work. The quality is superb, and I can get a couple of really nice suits and a few shirts (and perhaps a pair of shoes) for the same price as some raggity shit from China’s finest ‘tailor’. The weekend away in a nice country with great food and friendly people can be considered a free bonus.

Recently I wanted some new clothes. And unfortunately, I was far too busy to be able to go to Bangkok, even for three days. I knew it would lead to disaster, and I knew I’d pay over the odds, but I needed some clothes. So I went to the ‘fabric market’.

I’m not completely stupid, so I brought with me a shirt and a pair of trousers that I wanted copied. You’d think a Chinese could at least do that, right? I selected the fabrics, gave explicit instructions, obtained a completion date that was ten days longer than any tailor in Bangkok would give, and (after significant argument) paid a deposit equal to the normal full price that a tailor in Bangkok would charge.

When I returned to pick up my clothing, the trousers weren’t ready. I saw the shirts hanging on a rack though, so I took a look. They were, of course, wrong. There were buttons without corresponding buttonholes, buttonholes without matching buttons, buttons missing or in the wrong place, pockets missing and some of the shonkiest stitching I’ve ever seen. Par for the course. I was told the trousers would be ready “in a few days”.

I returned a few days later. Some of the problems with the shirts had been fixed. Sort of. The trousers were not there, though I was informed that they were “on the way”. Would I care to wait for twenty minutes? Sure, I said, knowing full well they were not finished yet. An hour later with no sign of the alleged items of apparel, and I departed, having left instructions to call me when everything was there, completed, and ready to take away.

A week later I got the call. Everything was there, and it was all wrong. One pair of trousers was almost nearly the right length just about, the others were impossibly short. I’ll never get my hands in the pockets of any of them. Still, all-in-all, it was a good job for a Chinese. Everything only slightly fucked up, only two weeks later than a date that was only ten days longer than a human would have required, with most of the errors able to be remedied by myself with a needle and thread, at a price that was merely exorbitant. I considered myself lucky, paid up and left.

Why pay, you might wonder? Well, the deposit covered the cost of the materials, and a healthy profit margin. If I hadn’t paid the balance, the so-called ‘tailor’ would have simply sold the clothes to a Chinese at a knock-off price. I’d have been out of pocket and out of pockets. At least this way I got a few shirts that were almost large enough and some trousers that I could wear in emergencies.

I consider myself lucky, though: most people are not nearly as fortunate in their dealing with the Chinese. In a land where cutting corners, ripping you off, cheating, lying, and stealing are all considered virtues, this is to be expected. When someone is more crooked than a dog’s hind leg, how can you expect integrity or pride in one’s work?

Next time though, it’s back to my real tailor in Thailand.

13 Responses to “Suits You, Sir”

  1. Dave in Macau said

    Good Sir, simply travel to Shanghai and see the folks at W.W. Chan. They’ll set you right with a premium suit at a bargain price ~RMB12,000! One of the best tailors outside of Saville Row and very responsive to unusual requests. They also understand the curious quirks of the Laowai body shape.


  2. Nips Are Great said

    Chinky-land is an outhouse and chinks are pieces of shit.

  3. Dave in Macau said

    Hans, methinks you need to find a better paying job!

  4. Hans Dampf said

    beloved Dave, you have no idea how right you are!
    Given the stuff i have to put up with every day, I should be paid much more!

    you are not truly implying that you ARE selling quality products are you and that the suits you are selling are worth 12k? Really?

  5. justrecently said

    By all means, buy that suit, Dave. But make sure that you only wear it in China, and that you keep the price tag hanging from it. Will make you an easy loot for potential business partners.

  6. annamaree said

    hi . Do you want intimeate friend . you travel in thailand go all around to shopping swimming go to the sea drink and fuck . i want a job one week go whit you . i women 38 years old tall 167 cm. weight 50 kl. i body model good looklike . you want a see my pic send e-mail to mee
    proposition you and mee to need . i don’t like this job and to be posted .

  7. Hans Dampf said

    You should contact Dave :P

  8. […] continue reading here […]

  9. RecoveredSinoholic said

    Years ago, I bought a couple of red dress shirts from a “fine tailor” in Beijing. Yes, he had a couple of pretty little xiaojies measure every part of my body (I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did). So, after sending the shirts in to the hotel laundry for cleaning, there was one tiny little problem. I ended up with pink shirts and pink underwear.

  10. Skip LuNcH said

    Yep. I just got a lovely silver sharkskin suit for one crisp American 100 dollar bill. In Thailand, in 6 hours!

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