The most exclusive clothes in China right now are the ones made for you. Bespoke apparel is not only as exclusive as it gets, it’s also higher quality and – get this – cheaper than the haute alternatives.
“I arrived in China about eight years ago for the first time. Anybody with money here was wearing Versace, Armani, everywhere you looked. They just had the brands everywhere,” said Raymond Mark Clacher, brand managing director of Gieves & Hawkes, which now has more than 100 stores across the country. “But now the real money is really clever, much more low-key.”
The trend is taking root all across China, but Beijing’s Yaxiu Market is swarming with domestic and foreign shoppers looking for just the right look and fit. At Yaxiu Market, customers can choose the color, style, fabric and tailor. They are even encouraged to haggle for the best price. Some tailors will even make individual hats or scarves.
“My business has shown year-on-year growth. One of the reasons is we are cheaper but another is people can’t find clothes that fit them in department stores. Many expatriates in Beijing find it difficult to shop in local stores because they are different sizes and have different tastes to locals,” said Beijing tailor Gu Hongjian.
Zhang Congbin, a tailor in the South China city of Guangzhou, has been quick to respond to the demand with social media. He promotes his business through a micro-blog at sina.com, which has attracted more than 55,000 fans. He receives dozens of orders every day. Zhang said he wanted to “offer good clothes that people can afford.” But there’s more to this new business than bargain shopping, especially as bespoke clothing is expected to get more popular as China’s economy grows.
“It’s not only the cheaper price and better quality. Wealthier people tend to dress differently and tailor-made clothes can make you look special,” Gu said.
photo credit: giandecaro