Tailors of Hoi An

Vietnam 2007

Hoi An is a small harbour on Vietnam's eastern coast. Travellers from all over the world come here for its famous and inexpensive tailors. In Hoi An it is not hard to bump into a backpacker walking with a worn rucksack in one hand and a bag full of brand new custom-tailored suits in the other: travellers enter a shop, choose a design from a Western catalogue and wait for their tailor-made clothes to be done.


The Viet Xinh family. Hiiynh Xuan Hiiong is a 20 year old girl from Tay Hoa Phu Yen, a small town 300 km south of Hoi An. She came here to help her cousins at the Viet Xinh family shop over the summer. It is a tough life, but at least it gives her the opportunity to learn English. Khiiong Thi Thien (22) works here all year long. She works every day of the week with no day off. The only break she has is during Tet, when all Vietnam stop to celebrate the New Year. Thien gets up every morning at 5 am; she takes a boat from the little island where she lives and gets to work in time for the morning opening. Her sister, Dung (24), follows the same rhythm: she hopes she will be able to save enough money to be able to go to study in the US, one day. The Xinh family is large: about forty people. They are all tailors. But the tasks are strictly devided: most of the women take care of the shop, speak with the tourists and sell them the clothes. The men, instead, stay at home and work on the fabrics, tailoring the suits and the dresses ordered in the shop.