In case you didn’t know, Hoi An is well-known (though apparently not well enough, since I had no clue until I arrived!) for its custom-made leather goods and clothes. All throughout and just outside of Hoi An’s Ancient Town is where you’ll find dozens of these leather and tailor shops, lined up along the streets. The only problem with too much choice? Not being able to make a choice. Thankfully, with some careful research and personal experience, I’ve narrowed the exhausting list of custom-made leather goods stores down to two.
During my stay in Hoi An, I saw many people (mainly men) getting custom-made clothing (mainly suits) at a number of the tailor shops. Since I wasn’t in the market for clothing, I had my eyes on the leather goods (I’m a total sucker for a nice leather handbag or a quality pair of leather shoes). There was an overwhelming amount of leather shops scattered throughout the town and I wanted to make sure that the shop I would be choosing would not just be a good deal in terms of price, but also in terms of quality and service.
In lieu of this, I initially made my way into a handful of shops to have a look around at the shoes and bags that were on display. Since I had recently bought myself a leather backpack, I was mainly focused on finding a pair of leather boots. Most of the shops will have shoes and bags on display, of which you can choose to have customized – you can change the color of leather, stitching, add different components, etc. On the other hand, you can also bring in a picture of the shoe or bag you’d like and they are likely able to make it.
How To Tell A Bad Leather Shop From A Good Leather Shop
One of the big differences you’ll see if you visit enough shops is that some of them will have an area inside dedicated to crafting the leather bags and smaller leather goods (the shoes need to be made elsewhere as it’s a noisy process), whereas the other shops outsource the same work. This, along with their use of lesser quality leather and less refined craftsmanship, is one of the reasons why the shops that outsource the work (these are usually the larger shops with tonnes of old-looking shoes) charge, on average, about $15 USD less than others. So, if you’re wanting to make an investment in something that will last, I would highly recommend going with the slightly more expensive, but far superior leather shop.
My Choice: Tu-Chi Leather Shop
After visiting a number of stores and doing a bit of research on the best leather shops in Hoi An when I got back to my hotel, I narrowed it down to two stores: Tu-Chi Leather Shop and Friendly Leather Shop. After reading a few blog posts and plenty of TripAdvisor reviews on both Tu-Chi and Friendly, I decided to go with Tu-Chi.
I had a few screenshots of the pair of boots I wanted and after showing it to the lady in Tu-Chi, she confirmed that they would be able to make the shoes for $60 USD (these were $160 USD in the store). After looking through the leather samples, I couldn’t quite find a color I was happy with, so she actually took me to their leather supplier via motorbike to choose from a vast selection of leather.
Back at the shop, after my measurements were taken and a few things on the shoe itself were adjusted (the length of boot and the color of stitching), I was told to come back the following day at 4:00pm to try the shoe on and make any necessary adjustments.
I was quite apprehensive about seeing my shoes the following day, as I really loved the way they looked in the photo, but weren’t entirely convinced they would be able to recreate them. When she brought them out, I was originally disappointed as they didn’t look how I thought they would. I had to remind myself that I had chosen a different color of leather so they (obviously) wouldn’t look the same, and after trying them on and mulling over them for awhile, I was very happy with my purchase.
The Shoes I Wanted:
The Shoes I Left With:
For far less than half the price of a pair of leather shoes at home, you can get yourself a beautiful pair of quality custom-made leather shoes in Hoi An. Worth it? Definitely. I just wish I had known about this before I arrived, as I likely would have had a shopping list of leather goods I wanted made!
Tu-Chi Leather Shop
24 Phan Bội Châu
Anyone else have a great (or unfortunately unfortunate) experience getting custom-made leather goods or tailored clothing from Hoi An?