Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sir, tailor made suit for you, sir. Gashmere coat?

     I had a suit made in Shitaewon in the late 90s. The tout that stands in the alleyway 30 meters down Itaewon Street from McDonald's is the same tout who touted me, hooked me...whatever. I got touted.
     He took me into the arcade downstairs and we picked out the fabric. He called a tailor who came and took my measurements. I told him that I didn't want the suit to be tight; that's a deal breaker. The suit should fit well. "Of course, sir, of course". I gave him W20,000 as a deposit. I figure if they fucked up the suit, that was all I was willing to lose in the transaction; and less than they would lose at any rate.
     I go for the first fitting, but neither the tout nor the tailor was there. This guy was a Korean ajosshi in his mid-to-late 30s. He was put together kind of well, so I figured him for a guy who went to the gym....or a gangster. The suit was nearly completely finished, which is not the way it is supposed to be done. The suit should be half made, with the internal stitching showing and pinned together in some places so that it can be altered easily. 

     Fucking amateurs.
     How do you think the suit fit? Tight, right? You see where this is going, right?      
     The tailor comes and he marks up the suit. I reiterate to the ajosshi that I don't want a tight suit. It was especially tight around the back. I couldn't freely move my arms. If I gained 5 pounds, I wouldn't have been able to wear the suit. If I got any bigger at the gym, which is what happened, I wouldn't have been able to wear the suit. "Of course, sir, yes, no problem, sir."
     I went back for the second fitting and it is just a little bit better than the first time. But the jacket was still tight across the back. They had cut the material too close to the measurements, which might not have been so accurate (imagine that). Ajosshi is not pleased, but he is civil about it.
     Third fitting and I don't think they did anything to the suit. It fit the same. I replied the same complaint as the first two fitting, and this guy lost it. He screamed at me and punched a few yards of fabric, sending them flying to the floor. He had that angry ajosshi look on his face, the one with the grinding teeth. I started taking the suit off and told him that I was going to walk over to the Itaewon police box and tell them about his behavior. He changed his behavior and calmed down a little bit.
     I was going to write off the W20,000 and not show up. But I was pretty convinced this guy was connected, and that would mean that I pretty much could never go back to Itaewon, or risk getting hurt. Plus, they could try to come at me for the money legally or illegally.
     I went for the fourth fitting and the suit fit a lot better. It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot better. I ended up paying the money and taking the suit. It was definitely a fitted suit, that was for certain. But I did wear it for many years and it was well worth the price, which was W180,000 if I remember.
     In conclusion, I cannot recommend buying a tailored suit in Itaewon, or Korea for that matter. Plus, these days, every Korean ajosshi has a cheap, shiny, mass-produced suit for which he paid W30,000 to W60,000. They look horrible. "Polyester suit, sir?" You might as well be my Aunt Rosa Lee in that poor fabric shit. Bespoke tailored suits in Korea have gone the the way of Hooker Hill....tits up.
    If you are going to get a really nice bespoke suit made, there are several very reputable shops in Bangkok where you can get a suit made with excellent fabric, super 120 or better, for a very reasonable price. I had a suit made in Hong Kong, but it was expensive and the tailor tried to cheap me on the materials. If interested, I might be able to find the websites to a few places I have gone to in Bangkok. Tell them Baek, In-je sent you.   

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