The Tailors of Phuket

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Bargains Galore: Phuket Island, along with many other tourist destinations in Thailand, is the home of tailor shops that offer great deals!! Or at least so it appears. The deals offered are hard to beat. Typically, these shops offer packages of one or two suits, two or three pairs of pants, and two or three shirts, all for a low price of between a hundred and a hundred and fifty US dollars. And a quick survey of the landscape gives a good indication why…competition.  There are, it seems, hundreds of tailor shops located on any beach road, near any entertainment area, and near any major hotel. In short, they seem to be everywhere. They are definitely located all over Phuket Island, particularly in Patong Beach, Kata Beach, Karon Beach and Phuket town.
Bargains and Scams Galore: Every year, numerous complaints are received by various tourist board authorities and newspapers, and posted on the Internet, complaining of tailor scams. It is difficult for sure to say if the word “scam” is an accurate word, because almost always the tailors deliver, more or less, what they promise to deliver. If a customer, for example, orders two suits, that is what he (or she) gets. If three shirts are ordered, three shirts are delivered. The problem, however, seems to be the quality. Customers complain of bad fabric and poor stitching, which is often traceable to the use of poor quality thread. Many people also complain that their new clothes don’t fit particularly well. While there are, no doubt shops on the Island that do good work, it appears that many shops might simply be trying to sell items to tourists that they (the tailors) don’t plan ever to see again.
A Public Nuisance: While not many people are directly affected by the problem of poorly made clothes since not so many people use tailor shops, everyone is affected by the sales methods which are now employed by tailor shops. These methods consist of sending teams of “representatives” or “tailors” into the streets to capture customers and bring them back to the shop. Because this is legal, the street tailors are more aggressive than other famous hunters such as ladyboys and ladies of the night. Some resort to jumping out from around corners, physically grabbing prospective customers and refusing to let go. They locate themselves in narrow passageways, so prospective guests can’t get by without having to stop…or walk out onto a dangerous road. Often they profess friendship, extending a hand and asking “Where are you from?” And, then, they refuse to let go! They have even trained tuk-tuk drivers and tour guides to deliver presentations and to take them on a special “tour,” which means to a specific tailor shop, before proceeding to the desired destination. Obviously, most travelers simply tune these bothersome people out, but it aggravating that this should be necessary to do in the first place.
A Changing Business Model: the tailor shop of Phuket Island is not the tailor shop which still might be commonplace in your home country. This – the traditional tailor shop – is a place of competent tailors who meet and greet those who come to their shop, tailor what the customer wants, personally make the item and then work with the customer to make sure it fits. The process takes at least three or four days and involves usually three fittings. The shop basically works with a rather small clientele that usually consists of repeat customers, referred customers and some walk-ins. The tailor shop of Phuket Island, on the other hand,  might not have a single tailor in the shop, and the characters on the street are definitely not tailors. They are simply hunters paid commissions on the number of customers they can somehow get to come into the shop. The tailor shop of Phuket Island almost always simply shows the customer pictures of items the customer can order, takes the customers measurements, and then sends the measurements, perhaps along with a mock up, to the “factory,:” which managers explain is maintained by the shop. In truth, many shops do not have a single “factory” and simply farm out the production to various sewing factories or shops. Hopefully, a shop might simply use one factory, and hopefully, a good tailor shop will do quality control to make sure that the items which it receives from the factories meet some kind of standards, but this can’t be assumed. The tailor shops of Phuket Island typically promise their customers fast turnaround which might be a real problem in terms of making a quality garment, and, it seems, assume that this means – since the customer is probably leaving soon -  a dissatisfied customer will not be around to complain very much.
Finding a Good Tailor: It is not easy to find a reputable tailor on Phuket Island on your own. This is because almost everyone on Phuket Island has been promised some sort of bounty by tailors for referring customers to their shops. Thus, one must be very cynical of any referral one might get unless the person giving the referral is known personally and well trusted.  The following tailor shops are, however, recommended by the website www.phuketlist.com/guide/phuket_tailors, which certainly appears to be legitimate and professional. It must also be suspect, but it does explain each recommendation briefly, giving reasons why each item is on the list. Perhaps it would be a good place for a prospective customer to begin their search.

Exclusive Tailor   – Patong Beach

Bhim Bernhardt – Karon Beach

Fashions Way  – Kata Beach

High Fashion Beach – Patong Beach

Karon World Fashions  – Karon Beach

La Boutique Fashion Designers  – Karon Beach

RX Fashions  – Patong Beach

Rossner Collection -  Karon Beach

Ruan Jawsaw  - Phuket town

Style Fashion - Patong Beach

The Mode Collection – Karon Beach

La Moda – Kata Beach

Larry Tailor – Patong Beach

Master Singh’s Fashion Gallery – Patong Beach

Paul’s Collection  - Cape Panwa

Penn Fashion House – Karon Beach

Amons Tailors – Kata Noi

Everest Tailor  - Surin Beach

Martin’s Tailor  - Patong Beach, Karon Beach,  Kata Beach

Stylo Fashions – Patong Beach, Kata Beach, Karon Beach

Zara Collections – Karon Beach

Big Boss Fashions – Patong Beach

Her and Him – Phuket town

Phuket Fashion – Phuket town

Royal Scandic – Kata Beach

Zoenex Custom Tailor – Patong Beach

Bonn Tailors – Patong Beach

Creative Tailoring  - Patong Beach and Phuket town

Hilfiger Fashion – Patong Beach

Vannoten Tailors – Patong Beach

World Suit Fashion – Kamala Beach

Zino Tailors – Kata Beach

Bossano of Copenhagen – Patong Beach

Eleganza Fashion – Surin Beach

Patong Tailor – Patong Beach

Peach Tailor – Patong Beach

SBoss Tailor – Patong Beach and Kamala Beach

Aman Tailor – Surin Beach

Bobby Tailor – Kamala Beach

Exclusive Tailor – Patong Beach

In Style Fashion – Patong Beach

Magnifique Tailors – Patong Beach

Royal Tailors – Karon Beach

Star Tailor House – Patong Beach

Alternatives to Tailors: if one simply wants to buy shirts, pants and so forth, one might consider shopping at a discount store like Big C, or going to a boutique store. The prices one will pay at a traditional retailer will be less than one would pay at a tailor unless one gets the package deal which will always include a suit or two.
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