In fact, American tailoring companies often outsource work to family-owned workshops in places like China, Thailand, Hong Kong, South America and Vietnam. Only the most exclusive garments are made with expensive American labor.
This is a problem for men who love bespoke tailoring but are unwilling, or unable, to pay retail for it. For some of these buyers, traveling halfway around the world is not too much trouble to get what they want.
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"I go overseas twice a year to buy my suits," said Ari Zoldan, CEO of technology firm Quantum Networks in New York City. "There's a bespoke section in Koh Samui, Thailand, and one in Hong Kong. You can come home with a suitcase full of suits at a fraction of the price."
Zoldan said he and some of his business associates have been outfitting themselves this way for years. Even calculating the airfare (about $1,200) and travel expenses (about $800 or so, including hotels), American businessmen come out way ahead.
"In the U.S., a typical bespoke suit costs $3,000. In Hong Kong, it costs about $300. You're bypassing the middleman and buying direct. Personally, I would never spend more than $350 for a suit."
There's also the fun factor.
"In the Hong Kong shopping district, there are maybe a 100 stores lined up in a three-block radius," he said. "People come with pictures from magazines, you know, 'I want this cut, this style, this fabric.' It's great. It's just a fun experience. In between fittings, you spend your time on the beach."
There are other ways to sidestep the premium price of bespoke tailoring too, according to Zoldan.
"Certain tailors will come to your house or your office in New York," he said, "or some people hit the trunk shows at the big hotels. At trunk shows, tailors from Hong Kong and China invite customers, measure them and return six weeks later with the finished goods."
The cost of buying a suit at a trunk show prices is two- or three-times higher than buying direct, but still substantially lower than retail, he said.