When you think of getting custom made shirts or suits, Hong Kong often springs to mind. However, there has also been a long tradition of tailoring here in Taiwan, with many shops in Taipei around the main train station and Linshen North Road (see below for some examples).
Although tailored clothing tends to have an image of being extravagant and even decadent, getting clothing made to fit can be surprisingly cost effective. When clothes are tailored made, it really fits “you” accurately in a way most store bought clothes cannot compete.
If this is the first time you’ve gotten tailor made clothing, you should plan on spending around an hour going through the entire process. If not your first time, then give yourself about 20 minutes to go through the entire process. To make things easier, these are the things that you will most likely experience during the tailoring process.
Find a Tailor
Finding a tailor in Taiwan is pretty easy, but finding a tailor you like and feel comfortable working with is another matter. We have listed two stores below that we have used and feel are positive for their skill, service and pricing.*
What to Get
There are various options to choose from, however shirts, slacks, blazers and suits are the most common items. Besides these items, women can also get skirts and dresses, although fewer stores cater to women’s clothes. If this is your first time, I would suggest getting work shirts made first, as the cost is lower and it will give you an idea of whether or not tailored clothing is for you.
In order to get an accurate fit, the tailor will take about 10 to 15 minutes making a variety of body measurements. The idea it to make sure that the garment fits you accurately, so he will be jumping around and waving his arms in all directions. It’s perhaps not the most enjoyable experience, but remember that after you’re done, your new clothing will fit like a glove and you will look amazing.
Chose the Material and Style
At this stage you’re on the home stretch and ready to start making some critical decisions regarding your new item. This is really the fun part as you get to choose the material, style, design and pattern.
For materials, the tailor will have tons of material samples for you to choose from. Before you head to the store, try to have a sense of what colors you would like as this will make the decision process easier and quicker. For fabrics, choose the material you like to wear. My preferences are 100% cotton for shirts and 100% year round or tropical wool for suits and blazers.
Depending on how much you want to spend, you can make a lot of choices as to the style of your tailored clothing. Personally, this can be difficult and time consuming, but it can make a big difference.
- Shirts: Personally I think the shirt is the most difficult as there are more choices to make and chose from: short or long sleeves, collar style (10+ styles), cuff type (8 to 10 styles), bottom cut (2 to 3 styles), pockets (locations and styles) and even the styling on the rear of the shirt.
- Trousers: are pretty straight forward, so you can either choose pleated or a plan front. I think the easiest way is to just bring a pair of trousers you like with you and have the tailor copy it.
- Blazers/Suits: as with the trousers, I prefer to bring in a blazer or suit top I like and have the tailor copy it. If you want to choose a different style, first make a decision on the type of blazer or suit cut: American, English or European. Personally, I prefer an English cut. Other choices include double vents, 3 or 4 button cuffs, notch lapel, single breasted with two or three buttons and lapel sizes and styles. If you go this route, make sure you study up before you head over to the tailor. It will make your life easier and more efficient.
If you have no idea what you want or find the process too daunting, skim fashion magazines to find things you like and bring the page with you. If you have a current piece of clothing you really like, bring it along and the tailor will most likely be able to copy it.
Personalize the Item
If you want to go all out and personalize your new purchase, you have a few options. For a shirt, you can have your name or initials stitched onto the pocket or cuff. If you have a Chinese name, ask the tailor to put this on instead of your Western name. For slacks, you can have the pants hemmed with a cuff or have a coin pocket sewn into either the inside of the waistband or right front pocket. For a blazer or suit jacket, you can request different types of buttons, cufflinks or pockets (money, watch, pen) designed into the jacket. No request is odd, so just ask the tailor if your request is possible.
Close the Deal
If you’re just getting shirts or trousers, the process is quick and straightforward, and you will be able to pick them up two to five days later. With a blazer or suit, you will need to return to the store one or two times for fittings, when you will need to try on the garment and the tailor will make changes where necessary. This is also your chance to review how things are shaping up, so be sure to make changes now. Remember, the tailor can only alter the jacket and not your body, and changes are far more difficult after the item has been made.
If you are only in Taiwan for a short period of time, you need to make sure that you have enough time to get everything ready. These times are only for reference, so check with your chosen tailor before starting the process. For an extra price, some shops will rush your order and even ship the order back to your home country.
- Shirts: 2 to 5 days
- Slacks: 2 to 5 days
- Blazer: 5 to 7 days
- Suit: 5 to 7 days
Depending on the tailor, materials and the wanted item, pricing for tailored clothing can vary widely. These prices what I typically pay:
- Shirts: $1,000NTD – $1,500NTD or $33USD – $50USD
- Slacks: $3,000NTD – $4,000NTD or $100USD – $133USD
- Blazer: $11,000NTD – $13,000NTD or $360USD – $430USD
- Suit: $15,000 – $18,000NTD or $500USD – $600USD
As mentioned above, these are two stores that I have used, but others are of course available:
Hanson Tailor Co., Ltd.,
Tailor: Peter Chiang
1F, No. 38, Sec. 1, Chung-Hsiao West Road, Taipei
Located in the Caesar Park Hotel shopping complex
James Lee Tailor Co., Ltd.,
Tailor: James Lee
No. 5, Lane 65, Sec. 2, Chung-Shan North Road, Taipei
Alternatively, check out Taipei’s Ximen (西門) district for tailors that cater to the student or recent graduate. Price is the key, so this might be an alternative if you feel the above reference prices are too high.
* Please note that the stores listed here are only a suggestion. We do not actively endorse either, and we do not receive any financial sponsorship from them. Please use at your own discretion.