Years ago I was in Thailand renewing my visa to teach in Taiwan. Throughout Thailand tailoring shops are common, where you can go in and get custom made clothes . You look through a catalog, pick out the style and fabric that you like (they’ll even make knock offs of designer clothes, or try to make you something from a magazine). Then, come back a few days later and pick up a complete, tailored wardrobe.
The individual tailoring shops don’t actually do the work themselves. They just take your measurements and show you the options. A number of the westerners I met were loading up on bootleg dvds and tailor made clothes. I met an Irish podiatrist who was on his third trip there and he assured me that the clothes were far cheaper than back in Ireland, and the clothes he had purchased in the past were good quality.
I bought a suit there. If you’ve never had anything custom tailored, it really rocks! Basically it feels like that rare piece of clothing that just fits right. Except it all fits well the first time you put it on. I hate wearing dress shirts, but the dress shirts I got in Thailand felt great.
Sadly, I’ve since lost a bunch of weight and I look like a hobo when I wear it (its baggy everywhere).
You definitely want to be careful when you’re buying anything like this in a developing country. Don’t pay them upfront (I’d give them AT MOST 25% of the cost when you order it), and make sure there’s plenty of time between when you get the clothes and when your plane leaves (so you can get them to fix any problems). I’ve heard of women making a trip to Thailand just to have their wedding dress made, and apparently they save more than the cost of the trip.
An idea for a business would be to have a shop just like what they have in Thailand, except in a western country. Get someone who can walk customers through their options and take measurements, then fax / e-mail the orders to the main tailoring facility in Thailand (or another country with cheap labour). Get the clothes shipped back, and make any adjustments in person.
You’d offer your customers much cheaper rates for tailor-made clothes, in exchange for them being willing to wait while its shipped form overseas.
I’m not sure what the shipping costs would be, but its clothing so its certainly not very heavy. You could get multiple items in each shipment (maybe get one big shipment every week).
One other issue was I went to a partial fitting, where they did a rough cut of the clothes, put them on me and made some more custom measurements, then they went back to the main shop for final fittings. If you had to send it back and forth overseas repeatedly it may get to the point where the cost to produce the clothing is as high as locally tailors custom clothing.
For this post, or any other of the wacky business ideas I post, obviously I’m releasing any ownership claims I may have over these ideas. If you like something I post and feel like you can make money from it, please feel free to do so! Let me know when you’re opening and we’ll do a post on it to give you some free advertising.