Buying a suit

So one of my missions here in Hong Kong (self-imposed, I should add) is to find a suit. Not just any suit, but the one for my wedding. So needless to say, there’s a certain amount of care needed in ensuring that what I get is what I need. I mean, I’m getting married in this. Yet, I don’t want to break the bank.

For some reason, dress-makers are on Hong Kong Island, but the tailors are in Kowloon. An interesting divide, but it meant that I couldn’t do anything until yesterday.

After we’d checked in to our new hotel here in Tsim Sha Tsui (and cooled down enough that my shirt wasn’t entirely filled with sweat), I wandered down to the bell hop/concierge (I swear every hotel in Hong Kong has full concierge service) and asked for who the hotel recommends for a tailor. I expected right away that whoever they did recommend would cost an arm and a leg.

Baron Kay’s. Nice place. Good staff. But wrong colours (and we looked through at least 20 or so books of fabrics) and over $700 for just the jacket and suit. Definitely a different clientele than people like yours truly. So off I go (back into heat that I can only describe as the kind used to cook bamboo baskets of dim sum delectables) in search of a new place. I decided to give the Lonely Planet’s suggestion a whirl…

Stitch-Up Tailors is in the Star House, on the south side of the building. The main sales guy, whose name I still haven’t gotten (he was on top of me even before I was in eyesight of him, he’s that aggressive), sized me up, quoted me, and then we engaged in the mandatory price bartering. Not being a sales person myself, I didn’t manage to push him down as far as I wanted, but I still got a better price than what I could get in Calgary, and with the colour I wanted. That, two shirts, and a tie. I certainly can’t complain too much.

So while we’re trying to pin down the time for me to do a first fitting (some FOUR HOURS later!), he’s trying to sell me another suit. More shirts. Pants. Anything. It’s almost like he’s unable to breath without selling someone an article of clothing. “Hugo Boss” is a period of a sentence for him. It’s sheer overload. After I’d put down a deposit, I finally manage to ask him a question: How does he deal with this heat? It’s kill me, and he doesn’t seem phased. He’s lived here 35 years and must have a secret of some kind (given, he’s from India). He looked at me, smiled, and said:

“Beer”.

Then he offered me one. Be darned if he wasn’t right!

I finally manage to break away, and find my way (sweating buckets — here, you can’t fry an egg on the street; it would hard boil in the egg before you could crack it) to the hotel and make plans with Amy, who was going off for her dress fitting (as you’ve already read).

Spin ahead to 18:30, and I’m back at Stitch-Up. The suit comes in. About 50% completed. The jacket is missing a sleeve, but it looks like a suit. And it fit pretty well, given that there were no zippers or buttons. The tailor, who spoke not a single word of English, tugged and pulled and scrawled a few numbers, then darted off again with the unfinished garment. And then while I attempted to get the finished fitting arranged, the sales guy bombarded me with an unending sequence of “what colour of pants would you like?”, “how many shirts in this blue?” (holding out a fabric that, while nice, I wouldn’t wear), “you need to wear suits — how many do you need, two, three”?

When I finally managed to convince him that I don’t wear suits enough to warrant one, he tried to get me to pay for Scotch Guarding and permanent pressing, things I really don’t need. Especially at the price he was trying to get me to pay. It took a lot of effort for me to finally get out of that store.

And lest you think that he’s just out to scam people, all the tailors here are like that. Most of them are even worse. Amy and I dodged no less than a dozen of them in the span of 100 metres before hitting the cafe tonight!

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