I wanted to get a suit made on my next trip to Shenzhen so I decided to summarize some of my experiences to help anyone else. It seems there’s very little references for people trying to navigate the crazy shopping mall at Luohu.
Cindy and Nancy:
On one of my first trips to Shenzhen, I was recommend a tailor that my colleague used, and I got some shirts made that fit me pretty well at the time. The Tailor’s names were “Nancy and Cindy” in stall # 5 on the 5th floor of the Luohu Commerce City. I had several shirts made there over the year that I’ve been traveling to this area, and I especially liked that these tailors seemed to help me navigate the fabric market and pick some nice fabrics. Their eagerness to sell me more and more shirts indicated that I was overpaying for them! But, the fabric quality that you can get in the fabric market is much better than the standard fabric books that they show you, so I was happy with the shirts in general.
On a future trip, I decided to have Cindy and Nancy copy my girlfriend’s favorite pants. That was a disaster because they came out an inch too small (they did not account for stretch, etc), and the riveted buttons were so ugly and cheap looking that is looked worse than Wal-Mart clothes. (mental note: you need to specify ALL the details on your garment)
So On my recent trip, I figured I’d try to have 2 suits made. Cindy made one for me, and I picked out fabric (they will always tell you that the one you like is more expensive than the one that they quoted you for). And tried to specify EVERYTHING possible. Nancy and Cindy are good at drawing a sketch to show you exactly what you’re going to get, and cutting out a swatch of each fabric that you’ll be using in your garmet. So far so good. My sizing went fine also, but when I got my suit back, the shoulders were lumpy, and the jacket button seemed to stretch the fabric around my waist when buttoned. Instead of trying to fix these problems, they spent all of their effort telling me that it was my undershirt that was lumpy, or that it looks fine when they hold it taught. Then, there was nothing they could do because the lining was too thin, so that was why the jacket lacked structure (wrong). I left it with them overnight to have it fixed by their tailor, and when I got it back the next day, it looked exactly the same, as if nothing was done to it.
To top it off, when I unpacked my suit, the fabric was de-laminating from the interfacing inside the suit. This should NEVER happen (unless they don’t fasten the interfacing on correctly). This was the most expensive suit that I got quotes on, and the lowest quality job of the two that I bought.
Calvin was really laid-back and confident. He seems to do a lot of business. He gave me a good price (30% less than my other tailor, but that’s not saying much). After picking fabrics and accommodating my special requests, he sent everything out and I had my fitting 3 days later. The fitting went quickly, and when I received my suit back the final day, we noticed some small problems that should be corrected, and he didn’t argue about fixing them in one day.
The good: Fair price, reasonable service, and the suit quality was “ok”. Hey, it IS China after all. If you want to look like an Italian, then you should get your suit made in Italy. Calvin’s shirts are WAY better than Cindy and Nancy’s. The buttons look much nicer, and the fit is much better also (he offered to add darts in the back of my shirt after trying it on).
The bad: Calvin doesn’t take very good notes, so I’m worried what would happen if I go in for another suit… we’d have to do all the fitting and measuring all over again. He also really screwed up a coat that I wanted made, and he didn’t understand what I wanted, so the coat came back with very feminine details (he must have not told the tailor that this was a man’s coat!) and the length was far off. BUT, he’s in the process of fixing it, so at least that’s good.
Update a few months later: Most of my buttons from Calvin have broken or chipped, and one shirt had the cuffs starting to come off!