Generally the tailors at Luohu pass on the garments to sub-contractors to make. They write down measurements, what you want, and set the price with you. There is not much bargaining in tailoring, as most tailors charge broadly similar prices.

When the bespoke garment is returned they inspect it and will send it back for any alterations you ask for. Sometimes, for example, you’ll see one trouser supplier delivering tailored trousers to a number of different tailor shops.

Some tailors do their own cutting and then pass the garment on to someone for sewing. Some have people in their shop for finishing garments with hand-sewn decoration, beading or special buttons. It is much better to go to a tailor who does his own cutting. They tend to be more careful.

Most of the tailors are extremely skilful and can do a very good job. Only time pressure and rush jobs tend to lead to carelessness, particularly when garments are passed out for bulk cutting.

The tailors on the 5th Floor mainly speak English and deal with foreigners. They may be more expensive. Sometimes a crowd of customers will come in from a tour group and want clothes made very quickly; be warned, this type of mass tailoring does not encourage a focus on quality.

Tailors on the 2nd and 3rd Floors mostly speak very little English and most of their customers come from Hong Kong or Korea. The Hong Kong customers tend to be very discerning and will not accept a less than perfect garment as they are often getting something made for a special occasion. These tailors are often excellent and, if you can persevere with making yourself understood, perhaps with a dictionary, the end result will be worth it.

The safest way to get something made well is to have something copied. It will be replicated exactly although details can be altered as requested, say shorter sleeves or hem.

The only proviso is to make sure you are using a similar material as the result will be very different if the material is different. So, ensure your satisfaction by checking things like the amount of stretch in the fabric and fabric thickness.

Finally, two things to keep in mind for successful tailoring:

1. Give precise instructions.

You’ve heard the saying relating to computers: Garbage in, garbage out. It’s the same with instructions for tailoring. The finished product will only be as good as your instructions. If you leave some detail to chance, the finished item may not look the way you envisaged. Even if the tailor says they understand what you want, draw a picture.

2. If you can, for cotton or synthetics, wash the fabric first to avoid shrinkage.

Apparently many of the tailors do not wash fabric before sewing but iron it with a steam iron. For cotton or synthetics, it is better to wash and dry the fabric first, then take it for sewing as this way you know that the finished garment will not shrink. Use warm water for this first wash if this is the usual setting on your washing machine.

Washing and drying fabric yourself is the only sure way to protect against shrinkage and ensure that the shirt or dress you are getting made will last for a few seasons. If you don’t have time for this, you should get the garment made slightly bigger to allow for shrinkage.

Tailoring is one of the outstanding value-for-money aspects of the Luohu Commercial Centre. Tailors are very professional and if you are courteous in your dealings, the tailors will respond in kind and do their very best.

Address: Shenzhen Railway Station Plaza Luohu

Metro: Luohu line 1 LUNCH BREAK AT LUOHU

We’ve told you elsewhere how much we like the Laurel Cantonese restaurant chain and there’s one on the fifth floor of Luohu Commercial Centre. But beware. It is also a firm favourite of the Hong Kong shopper and you may have to join a long queue to get a seat or send one of your shopping party in advance. For a medium price western menu there is the award-winning Taste Restaurant and Bar on the 3rd Floor.

The other Chinese restaurants in Luohu are all of a reasonable quality, although check the price of the tea you order as it may add quite a bit to your bill. If you do order expensive tea, another tip is to refuse a second pot if it appears on your table without being ordered.


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