I’ll be honest, before I moved to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, I paid little attention to clothes—fashion wasn’t really my thing. But once I discovered I could have everything made to measure here—and at such an affordable cost—I soon got into the swing of things.
I’m not joking when I say that I could wear a different shirt every day for three months without having to use my laundry service once. Even better, the cost of having my entire wardrobe tailor-made for me has set me back far less than the price of a single off-the-rack, brand-name suit back home.
When I first arrived in Phnom Penh I visited a few different tailor shops to check out examples of their work, the quality of their fabrics and, of course, their prices. A tailored shirt with high-quality fabric costs from $7 to $10, a pair of trousers for under $15, and a bespoke suit for between $70 to $150 depending on the style, cut and fabrics.
I decided to order some shirts and trousers from Angkor Independent Tailor on Sihanouk Boulevard as a test-run and the clothes turned out to be both a good fit and of impressive quality. Thus began the relationship responsible for nearly my entire wardrobe—the quality of which is so high that 10 years later I’m still wearing my first batch of shirts. Not bad considering they were just $7 a pop, plus when I gained a little weight my tailor altered them for me…for free. How’s that for service?
The process of having clothes made to measure in Cambodia begins by choosing from a selection of imported fabrics, often from Europe. Once you’ve picked the fabrics then you can either ask the tailor to copy the design of your favorite shirt or simply point to a photo in one of their fashion catalogues, which they can perfectly recreate for you.
They will ask how you like your collar and buttons done before taking your measurements. You pay a deposit, which can be as little as $7, and they’ll give you your receipt and let you know when your clothes will be ready for collection.
If you order a few pieces, usually you’ll be asked to call back in about a week for a fitting where you can check if everything matches your specifications or if you require any alterations. If everything is to your liking, you simply pay the balance of your receipt and you’re good to go.
The process is pretty similar if you have a bespoke suit made, although the timeline is a little longer and you should have at least two fittings. Do that and you’ll end up with one of the best-cut suits of your life. One really cool trick is to find a suit that you like online and then print it out for the tailor who will replicate it for you at no extra cost.
You’ll also find a host of seamstresses, dressmakers, and shoemakers on hand to help local and expat ladies dress to impress. One hotspot is in the Russian Market at Toul Tom Poung where you can have beautiful Khmer or international style dresses made to measure for around $15 and all manner of bags and accessories can also be crafted to your requirements for as little as $7.
And if shoes are your thing then there’s a craftsman here who can make any style of leather shoe that you wish from just $18.
At prices like these it’s easy to understand why so many expats are choosing to live a tailor-made life of affordable luxury in Phnom Penh…