Off-Shore Tailoring

by Mr. Cheap

Years ago I was in Thailand renewing my visa to teach in Taiwan.  Throughout Thailand tailoring shops are common, where you can go in and get custom made clothes .  You look through a catalog, pick out the style and fabric that you like (they’ll even make knock offs of designer clothes, or try to make you something from a magazine).  Then, come back a few days later and pick up a complete, tailored wardrobe.

The individual tailoring shops don’t actually do the work themselves.  They just take your measurements and show you the options.  A number of the westerners I met were loading up on bootleg dvds and tailor made clothes.  I met an Irish podiatrist who was on his third trip there and he assured me that the clothes were far cheaper than back in Ireland, and the clothes he had purchased in the past were good quality.

I bought a suit there.  If you’ve never had anything custom tailored, it really rocks!  Basically it feels like that rare piece of clothing that just fits right.  Except it all fits well the first time you put it on.  I hate wearing dress shirts, but the dress shirts I got in Thailand felt great.

Sadly, I’ve since lost a bunch of weight and I look like a hobo when I wear it (its baggy everywhere).

You definitely want to be careful when you’re buying anything like this in a developing country.  Don’t pay them upfront (I’d give them AT MOST 25% of the cost when you order it), and make sure there’s plenty of time between when you get the clothes and when your plane leaves (so you can get them to fix any problems).  I’ve heard of women making a trip to Thailand just to have their wedding dress made, and apparently they save more than the cost of the trip.

An idea for a business would be to have a shop just like what they have in Thailand, except in a western country.  Get someone who can walk customers through their options and take measurements, then fax / e-mail the orders to the main tailoring facility in Thailand (or another country with cheap labour).  Get the clothes shipped back, and make any adjustments in person.

You’d offer your customers much cheaper rates for tailor-made clothes, in exchange for them being willing to wait while its shipped form overseas.

I’m not sure what the shipping costs would be, but its clothing so its certainly not very heavy.  You could get multiple items in each shipment (maybe get one big shipment every week).

One other issue was I went to a partial fitting, where they did a rough cut of the clothes, put them on me and made some more custom measurements, then they went back to the main shop for final fittings.  If you had to send it back and forth overseas repeatedly it may get to the point where the cost to produce the clothing is as high as locally tailors custom clothing.

For this post, or any other of the wacky business ideas I post, obviously I’m releasing any ownership claims I may have over these ideas. If you like something I post and feel like you can make money from it, please feel free to do so! Let me know when you’re opening and we’ll do a post on it to give you some free advertising.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shank

They already have this idea in Canada. It’s called Maxwell and he visits Toronto twice a year min as well as other cities. Almost everyone who’s a banker, in research, or a trader has a few of his products.

2 Paolo

Maxwells travels across North America.

http://www.maxwellsclothiers.com/

3 Mr. Cheap

Too funny, oh-well. Everyone who hasn’t heard of this Maxwell character (and is interested in tailored clothes) should check it out!

4 WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com

I believe he sets up shop in a hotel room downtown and then just takes appointments. Prices are very good from what I remember: $60 gets you three tailored shirts, 100% egyptian cotton with monogramming on the cuffs.

Consider that a regular cookie cutter dress shirt from the Bay may easily be $60…

Here’s an interesting business idea: financial advisors who are licensed to sell individual securities who work on a salary. (Bank branch advisors get a base salary and bonuses, but can only advise on mutual funds.)

5 Mr. Cheap

Preet: That is a great price! The one thing I like about the cookie cutter dress shirts is that you can get “wrinkle resistant” shirts that you can basically wash and wear. I imagine 100% egyptian cotton would involve quite a bit of maintenance (ironing and whatnot)…

6 WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com

100% any-cotton usually is quite high maintenance. Thank goodness for suit jackets to cover up all the wrinkles! 🙂

7 Paolo

The key to ironing your cotton dress shirts is to do it right out of the wash when they are wet and hang dry. They iron quickly and are nice and crisp when dry.

8 Rob

It’s not $60 for 3 shirts any more – last time I paid $135 for 3. Plus I paid duty when they arrived.

Still a better deal, considering the quality and custom fit.

9 samadv

A lot of Thai Tailors actually visit different parts of the world to accept mail order business. Most of the time they keep in touch with their own customers to give them more business through friends family and themselves. The prices are very reasonable and includes shipping often a good deal anyway.

There may be however a chance of 5 % that you may not fit into properly – your clothes. If its a minor case then you can get it altered in that case back home.

check google out for more information on these tailors one of which I know through a friend of mine in http://www.timmystailor.com that can send clothes by mail order to your house if you send them measurements

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