The men in Saigon are dressing better courtesy of Quynh Tran
A new concept in fashion is trending, Vietnamese men are starting to open up to the idea of bespoke clothes and are realizing that getting the perfect fit is worth the time and extra expense. The demand is driven by young men, often in their 20s and early 30s, who want to carve out a more individualized sense of style as opposed to what’s available to every other person. Even as fashion week unfolds around the world last month, more and more celebrities are foregoing big brands and catwalks to buy customized pieces from professional tailors who place emphasis on details, service and quality.
While the word “bespoke tailor- ing” may conjure up images of Gieves & Hawkes and Huntsman on Savile Row with customized suits costing in the thousands, now companies such as Saigon-based Cooper & Co. offer more affordable options that are still created based on the same mod- el as their British counterparts.
Surveying the shop’s new location on 53B Nguyen Du in District 1, far from assaulting customers with products, or being overly ostentatious, their retail space is inviting and allows a collaborative atmosphere between tailor and client. And that’s exactly what they are keen to encourage says Quynh, who has a Fashion Merchandising Degree from the US, and have spent time at fashion giant Nordstrom.
“A lot of our customers are repeats,” says Quynh Tran, co-founder of Cooper & Co. “We keep a file on all of their measurements, their likes, dislikes and what they’ll be doing in the suit or outfit. As a bespoke tailor, we aim for perfection, and an initial consultation with us goes for 30-40 minutes. This is where we establish trust.”
It was her time as a stylist at Esquire Vietnam that inspired her to start her Cooper & Co. “I realized that there was a demand for this [here] because there were a lot of local brands for women, but not enough for men so they were either going out of the country or buying suits from Hugo Boss at USD3,000 a piece.” She remembers borrowing clothes for magazine photo shoots and then being very worried about damaging them on the way back to the stores. “I wanted to create something of good quality at an affordable price. Our suits start at USD400 and go up from there.”
According to Quynh, no one wins in the traditional transactional, fast fashion retail model. How often do you leave the high-street feeling like you’ve just bought something you didn’t really want? At Cooper & Co this would never happen she assured me. “We cater to a young, dynam- ic audience who understand the impor- tance of high quality clothes that fit.”
It’s all about added value she explains, and it goes back to her fondness for even the smallest things, like hard-to-get buttons, one-off threads and unique patterns. “I’ve always been interested in the details, so we’re very detail orient- ed,” she says. It’s about combining the ideas of the customer, the work of the tailor and her trained staff ’s suggestions to create a suit or an outfit that no one else can legitimately claim to have. It’s a level of personalization that’s being embraced all over the world.
“Not everyone will look like Ryan Gosling or Bradley Cooper, but it’s our job to take customers ideas, com- bine them with our own and meet in the middle. If you’re giving people the best service you can, you need to be honest, and make appropriate sugges- tions,” she says. “Initially my partner and I wanted to establish a lifestyle brand to educate the market on how to dress and in essence be more polite, so that’s still a long-term goal we have.”
Keen to disassociate Cooper & Co. from the word “luxury,” Quynh says it’s something that’s now affordable to more and more men, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t still picky. “They know what they want and they know what they look like. We want them to walk out of the door here and feel like they’re going to nail that performance, or nail that presentation.”
For many, that’s a luxury they can’t afford not to have.
IMAGES BY NGOC TRAN