While Captain Finance is primarily about investment and saving strategies, this blog is also about enriching life in other forms.
You may have read about my first hand experiences with the economic and social evolution of mankind while traveling on a 3rd class carriage in Thailand. For anyone who has ever traveled through Thailand, you probably agree with me: it is a land of amazing sights and experiences. From the food to the unbelievable beauty of its nature, traveling through Thailand, you will find yourself frequently awing. Besides all the richness in culture – from Buddhist temples to Bangkok’s China town – Thailand is known for affordable tailoring.
But as dig your way through the infinite information online, you repeatedly stumble over horror stories about patrons being ripped off and sold bad quality. However, amongst the many dodgy ones, there are some good tailors in Bangkok that are worth paying a visit. I thus decided to sway slightly from typical Captain Finance topic of finance and write a review on Raja's Fashion, one of the top tailors, I have found, in Bangkok, Thailand - a place where I was happy to have my suit and shirts tailored.
A Tailor Made Dream
For years I have dreamed of being outfitted by one of the famous tailors on Savile Row. A few years ago, while strolling through London, I entered one of the famous tailors and inquired about their prices. With a price tag of £2,000 upwards, it was, however, out of my price range; I was still a PhD student at the time. However, ever since that day I was set on getting tailor made clothes.
For years I have been buying from the same company in the UK (you’ll find links with offers in the Gems section). And while I have been happy with their products, with our holiday to Thailand drawing closer, I realized this was a great opportunity to have a suit and shirts tailored in Thailand.
Mrs CF and I spent three weeks in Thailand and were initially planning on only spending the weekend of our arrival in Bangkok before continuing our travels through the rest of the country. Yet with only a few days and a new land I wanted to be sure that the tailor I did business with provided quality for my hard earned cash. I didn’t mind spending a bit extra if the final product reflected good craftsmanship. Hence started my search for the best tailors in Bangkok. Digging through the endless number of websites, from forums to tripadvisor, newspaper articles to blogs, I eventually ended up with two tailors that fit both the quality criterion and acceptable prices.
An indication of whether you are dealing with a good Thai tailor or one of the many bad ones you’ll hear and read about: when told by the tailor that one fitting is sufficient to produce a well fitting suit, you know for a fact that the “tailor” is merely a salesperson. Look at some of the best tailors in the world: a suit made in England or Italy will require multiple fittings and take weeks. As Thailand is much cheaper in terms of labor with armies of workers stitching and cutting the cloth, you should get to wear your suit and shirt within a shorter time frame. Even then for your beloved garment to fit you perfectly, a couple of fittings are required. If your tailor is a real genius and able to measure your down to the millimeter, a second fitting is still a must. The first fitting is merely to take your measures, the second to see which part of your suit needs some tweaking.
After all my research into Bangkok tailors, I had had now narrowed down the vast amount to two. I got in touch with both of them to see about their availability. With only a few days in Bangkok, I consequently opted for the one whose schedule was best suited to our travel plans – Raja’s Fashion. I was surprised to learn that it would be possible to get the second fitting only two days after the first fitting. Impressive speed if you compare it to some of the masters in Italy and England. But again, this is a question of cheaper labor and thus a multitude of hands producing suits and shirts.
As it was the weekend of the New Year, a period of Thai holidays, I could not go directly to the Raja’s Fashion. Initially Mrs CF and I had planned to stay only for two days, but with the necessity of a second fitting, we decided to add another 1 ½ days in Bangkok (in hindsight we are both more than happy that we did, because of the many things to see and do in Bangkok and the wonderful people we were to meet later on our trip – if we had left for our trip through Thailand earlier, who knows if we had met the number of wonderful people that we did).
The first fitting was a matter of less than two hours (from choosing the cloth, buttons, cuffs, lapel, pockets, and vents to getting measured). In fact, the primary reason why it took so little time on my first fitting was that I had already designed my suit and shirts before coming to Thailand. I had made an exact plan of what and how I wanted the suit and shirts to look like, what cloth to be used, and what features to be added. While I was choosing the cloths and getting measured, Mrs CF was served beverages. This is what I call customer service. Wouldn’t it be great if stores in Europe and America were to serve a cold beer while the men are waiting for their better halves?
The second fitting
If you are anything like me, you will probably also experience the mix of excitement and anxiety after ordering something online before being able to check that it was worth your hard earned cash. Will the piece of clothing you ordered fit as well as on the photo on the company’s website, will the material be worth the money? I can assure you that this is even more pronounced when you have been fitted and not ordered off the rack with the simple option of returning an unwanted item.
I chose a tailor that was far from the $100 for a suit and four shirt types that you find all across Bangkok. Not because I don’t like a good deal, but because I love a good deal. I wanted a suit and shirts that were good in tailoring as well as material. I also wanted to enjoy a real tailoring experience, my personal, more affordable version of Savile Row or Milan. I spent almost $ 450 on a two-piece suit made of Super 150 and three Egyptian cotton shirts. Thirty percent of which I had to pay after the measures were taken and the remainder on completion. I have heard of others having to pay half or even more upfront, but even at thirty percent I had to part with $150 for a product that was not even finished yet. With a substantial amount at stake – though this is nothing in comparison to what we would need to pay in Europe or North America – I was anxious to see the finished product and whether whether Bobby and his family, who own Raja’s Fashion, could deliver on their promise of being one of the best.
48 hours later, Mrs CF and I went back to Raja’s Fashion. You can imagine my relieve to find trousers, jacket, and the shirt in a meticulous state nicely displayed on individual hangers. The second fitting is when the real tailoring experience kicked in. I tried on the shirts, all wonderfully constructed and almost flawless (one change had to be made in the form of an additional cuff button before putting on what I had longed for since deciding to holiday in Thailand. As I tried on the trousers it felt like a second skin. It sat perfect. As I slipped on the sleeveless jacket (Bobby’s father took the measures for the sleeve lengths), it looked beautiful. I felt proud to wear the garment that was made exclusively for me.
Bobby’s father took the final measures and after about 1 ½ hours Mrs CF and I went back out into the Bangkok sun. I no longer felt anxious about my purchase but genuinely happy about the decision to have a suit and shirts tailored specifically for me.
The third fitting
In order to ensure that the final details where well tailored, I went in for the third and final fitting ten days later. We had gone off to travel the beautiful islands of Thailand and many of its historic sites and had a couple of hours to spare on our final day in Thailand. Obviously neither of us was excited about not spending our last day in Bangkok in a garment store. Thus, I scheduled my appointment very early in the morning.
I was the first customer at Raja's Fashion. As I didn't want to spend too much time in the store and rather outside breathing in Bangkok's life, I was hoping for a quick third fitting. Indeed, the tailors at Raja's had done a great job. There was only a small detail that needed changing. Between putting on the trousers and the jacket (the shirts were already established to be well fitting at the second fitting) and signing off on the finished product, as in, handing over the remaining cash, little more than 40 minutes had passed. Plenty of time to enjoy our last day in Bangkok.
Between the last fitting and the final product lay two weeks. Raja's Fashion shipped my first tailored suit to Paris two weeks later. I can assure you, trying on the final product was a real treat.
Can I recommend Raja’s Fashion’s?
Most definitely. The entirely family is very pleasant to deal with and if you know what you want, the experience will be enjoyable taking relatively little time. After all, there is so much to see in Bangkok, it would be shame to spend hours merely shopping and missing out on all the other great experiences.
Even when there was a bit of a hiccup, Bobby quickly resolved the issue and left a very satisfied customer who will certainly return for more business. So if you are ever in Bangkok and want a suit tailored, then this might be an alternative for you.