To be honest, every suit that I have ever owned made me look like a door-to-door Bible salesman (no offense, but that is not a good look for me). Therefore, I made myself a commitment to look good at my next formal event by sporting a brand new tailor made suit. So, follow along for a beginners guide to suit buying in Beijing as presented from my perspective.
- After some discussions and research, a Chinese friend of mine recommended Alice-My-Tailor in the Yashow (Ya Xiu) market in Sanlitun. Supposedly, my friend's Chinese friends got suits for around 400 yuan (a price that I will never get because I am American).
- I promised a local Chinese friend of mine that I would take her out to diner in my new suit if she helped me bargain for one (seems fair considering the amount I would save should cover the diner)
- At Alice's, we started out by letting the saleswoman know that I wanted to buy three suits and multiple shirts but that I would first buy one to ensure their quality. Claiming multiple suits and shirts was part of the bargaining ploy.
- Informed the saleswoman that the first suit was going to be a conservative navy blue with a European cut. She pointed out a bunch of really nice worsted wool fabrics of which I chose a quite nice one with light pinstripes if I might say so myself.
- Here, the negotiation started with 1090 yuan ($160). Back and forth things went between my friend and the saleswoman. It seemed to get pretty heated at times as my friend was claiming the 400 price.
- Minor movement on the price (800) meant it was time for us to go (mainly a ploy).
- One shop over, we were greeted with a salesperson who stated the lowest they would go for a suit - 850.
- Back to the original shop with a claim that the second shop offered to do it for 750 and that we wanted them to do it for 700. When asked why they would do that, my friend responded that we would rather have them do it because of their quality.
- Done!! One jacket and pants for 700 ($106) even though I believe we could have gotten them down to 600 ($91).
- Next step - I needed to choose the style and all those little things that I never thought about (typically just grabbed my other suits off the rack). One, two, or three buttons, pleats, cuffs, one slit, two or none, and on and on.
- Now the measuring begins as the tailor starts jumping around measuring me and calling out the numbers to their partner.
- Next is to wait a few days and come back for a fitting.
- Went to the fitting solo as the deal was made and now it is just fine tuning the suit.
- Damn, the initial fit isn't perfect (that is why one goes back for a fitting) but a custom fit suit really makes the difference.
- One more return on the fitting and I am looking sharp. Look out next formal event!!!
So, a custom suit for around $100. I plan to get another that is black and a few shirts for around $15 dollars each. You just cant beat the price / quality ratio of this work. I so wish my bank account could afford a closet full of Alice's work!!!