Buying Custom Suits in Thailand

I’ll admit it – I absolutely hate buying clothes.  And the worst type of clothes to buy has to be suits which need to be measured and altered and usually involve more then one visit to the store.  I find the whole ordeal zero fun mostly because of how tedious the process of finding something you actually like and then getting it to fit you can be.  On a trip to Thailand however I learned that suit buying doesn’t need to be this way.  In fact, buying custom suits in Thailand is a completely different experience altogether – and definitely “Style Hi”.

The only way to get around Bangkok - by Tuk Tuk!

The only way to get around Bangkok – by Tuk Tuk!

After a day of exploring Bangkok with my brother we somehow got on the topic of custom clothes and how great Thailand is for that sort of thing.  We had hired a tuk-tuk driver for the day and when we told him of our interest in custom suits he immediately drove us over to Chao Phraya Suit on Krungkasem Road.

Exterior of Chao Phraya Suit

Exterior of Chao Phraya Suit

Not knowing what to expect, we are quickly escorted into the upscale establishment where we’re met with handshakes from the manager and an introduction to his associate, Vijay.  Vijay sits with us and shows us catalog after catalog of the nicest suits.  Armani, Hugo Boss, Gucci, everything.  Unlike how we’re used to buying clothes by miserably trying one on after the other you pull off the rack, Vijay explains that we pick out the design we like from the catalog and the fabric from one of the countless rolls they have in the store.  There are no actual clothes in the shop to look at, just the ingredients for making clothes from scratch.  After taking our measurements they will create the suit we want to our exact sizes and even ship it home for us.  This seemed too good to be true.

Inside the shop where the shelves are covered with nothing but fabric choices

Inside the shop where the shelves are covered with nothing but fabric choices

Soon we’re selecting fabrics from an assortment of unending rolls and standing in front of mirrors with different Italian cashmere draped across ourselves.   Vijay and his team are never more then a few steps away constantly offering complimentary drinks and anything else we may ask for.  In no time at all we’ve both selected exactly what we want, had our measurements taken and agreed to a price.  Each suit would cost us just $120 – a steal even for an off the rack suit in a discount store in the USA – but here we were getting something totally custom made for each of us from scratch.

My brother Mike being draped in cashmere

My brother Mike being draped in cashmere

The next day we return to Chao Phraya Suit for final fittings.  As we walk in everyone recognizes us and greets us by name with enthusiastic hellos.  Overnight our measurements, style and fabric selections have been transformed into suits made exclusively for each of us.  We’re shown to some seats in the back, offered drinks once again and soon our suits are brought out.  With no sleeves of stitching in yet we felt like we were in a movie trying on the suites that were still in the midst of being created for us.  Mine was basically a perfect fit from the start however and needed no adjustment.

Final alterations - like a scene out of the Godfather

Final alterations – like a scene out of the Godfather

Later that day we returned one last time just to pick up the final product which we decided we would take with us instead of ship.  The suits were perfect and to this day, mine is the most comfortable suit that I own.  The guys at Chao Phraya don’t mess around.  They even keep your measurements on file so you can email in orders for future suits, shirts, anything and they will ship them right to you in the USA or anywhere else.  If buying a suit at home is a chore, buying one in Thailand is an experience.  If you have the opportunity I would definitely take advantage of the wonderful Thai service and customer support that has long since evaporated from their American equivalents.  You’ll be happy you did, and you’re sure to get compliments for years to come.

The end result - two new custom made suits and we're lookin' good!

The end result – two new custom made suits and we’re lookin’ good!

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