With speedy and skilled tailors churning out the latest suiting styles in a matter of days, Hong Kong has acquired a reputation for sartorial excellence. The origins of the industry can be traced back to early 20th-century Shanghai, where the expatriate community was served by numerous tailors – known as the Red Gang – who copied the Western styles their clients demanded. The Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949 prompted an exodus from Shanghai to Hong Kong, and the tailors followed their customers south.
Shanghai’s loss was Hong Kong’s gain. Today, no guidebook is complete without the suggestion of getting a suit made in the city. Hong Kong tailors come at a variety of price points, offering bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear suits.
Famous and affordable names such as Sam’s Tailor and Raja Fashions in Tsim Sha Tsui, have served presidents, princes and pop stars, but the quality is reflective of the super competitive pricing and speed.
Pay a little more and you can enjoy the services of the mainstays of Hong Kong tailoring such as Ascot Chang, WW Chan and Gordon Yao. Then there is the newer breed of luxury ateliers such as Attire House in Central, which have taken social media by storm but can be prohibitively expensive and comparatively glacial in terms of delivery times. Although these tailors excel first and foremost in men’s suiting, some are increasingly accommodating female customers.
In short, if you have the luxury of a few extra days for fittings and flexibility in your budget, the following cream-of-the-crop tailors will deliver a tailored creation that’s well worth it.
After more than 60 years in business, Ascot Chang is a keystone of the Hong Kong tailoring industry. Founded by the eponymous Shanghainese tailor who moved to the city during the 1940s, the family-run business continues to be run by the founder’s son Tony and grandson Justin. Ascot Chang has become renowned for its quality and consistency, made possible by its experienced army of tailors and pattern cutters, not to mention a fabric library that runs to several thousand bolts. For its suits, Ascot Chang utilises a lightweight yet springy full canvas for a comfortable jacket that retains its shape. Bespoke tailoring at Ascot Chang starts from HK$14,000 and can go up to HK$30,000 depending on fabric. The company has a number of outlets in Hong Kong, including one in Central’s IFC mall, a short walk from the Airport Express train, an ideal place to pick up your bespoke suit before checking in.
Shop 2031, 2/F, IFC mall, 1 Harbour View Street, Central; +852 2295 3833. Tailoring from HK$14,000
Priced at the top end of Hong Kong tailoring, Attire House is the brainchild of Hongkongers Roger Chan and Brandon Chau. Housed inside a luxurious space that features a Japanese whisky bar, a cigar room and a barbershop, Attire House aims to cater to all aspects of the gentlemanly lifestyle – but suiting is their credo. Here you can find the finest Italian and British fabrics as well as tailors who fly in from London, Naples and Tokyo to conduct bespoke fittings. This level of tailoring doesn’t come cheap; expect to pay well above HK$35,000 for a bespoke suit, but if it’s that once in a lifetime garment you’re looking for, push the boat out.
Unit A, 4/F, Duke Wellington House, 14–24 Wellington Street, Central; +852 2619 9007. Tailoring from HK$35,000
TD Yao established his tailoring business in Shanghai in 1935 and then moved to Hong Kong in the early 1950s. His son Gordon took over the business and has since established himself as one of the biggest names in the Hong Kong tailoring industry. Internet style forums are effusive in their praise of Yao’s mastery and his reputation abroad only grew with trunk shows in New York, London and elsewhere. The service may lack the whisky and cigar you find at some modern high-end tailors around town, but the finished product is always first class. Yao’s too old to travel abroad these days, so a visit to his emporium is a must if you want suit from the crème de la crème of Hong Kong tailors. Another feather in Yao’s cap is its reputation for women’s tailoring.
Shop 120B, The Royal Garden Hotel, 69 Mody Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2730 1545. Tailoring from HK$13,000
Run by the youthful duo of Jerry Tong and Christopher Tang, Prologue is still a relatively new concern compared to the other Hong Kong tailors and its laidback approach should appeal to everyone from the novice to the expert. As well as a range of accessories and ready-to-wear items, Prologue’s tailoring focuses on the humidity-appropriate soft-shouldered styles favoured in Florence and Naples, so don’t expect Savile Row rigidity here. With suits ranging from HK$9,000 to up to $15,000, Prologue’s tailoring service offers the modern styles you would find at The Armoury or Attire House but at more affordable prices. The tailoring sits somewhere between bespoke and made-to-measure as they do more fittings and personalisation. Located a few minutes’ walk from Soho, the space has the typical gentleman’s club feel, and the generous whisky collection and light breezy chat make fittings less onerous.
3 Shin Hing Street, Central; +852 2572 2488. Tailoring from HK$9,000
WW Chan & Sons is another name that has built a loyal international following off the back of trunk shows and an army of admirers garnered online and through social media. Established in 1952, WW Chan’s lineage stretches back to the Red Gang tailors of Shanghai and its offering is classic suits made with traditional fabrics. Don’t come here if you want nuance and trendy designs; do come for expert craftsmanship and long-lasting quality. Chan also offers limited women’s suiting services.
Unit B, 8/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queen’s Road Central, Central; +852 2366 9738. Tailoring from HK$13,000
Get to know the terms of the trade before your visit to one of Hong Kong’s tailors
In essence, a suit that has been created from scratch, so the process can take several days if not weeks. A pattern is cut from multiple fittings with the client, to get as close to the nuanced contours of an individual’s body as possible. Maximum customisation is possible, with the fabric, pockets, vents, linings, notches, lapels all subject to the whims of the wearer.
Also known as custom-made, made-to-measure suits offer custom sizing options, though not as expansive as bespoke, and some degree of personalisation of the fabric, the lining and other elements. The turnaround is faster with fewer fittings than a bespoke suit.
A standard, often signature, design suit that is offered in standard sizes and standard fabrics. This is by far the fastest and cheapest option when buying a suit, offering only the possibility of minor alterations for a better fit.