Time Out's guide to custom-made clothing in Beijing

Fantastic fabrics and tailors, and where to find them

No matter how many holes it may have or how worryingly tight it's become, waving goodbye to a favourite piece of clothing is a traumatic time.

Hoping to ease the pain (and look like the freshest media team since Anchorman at the same time), Time Out Beijing went hunting through the city's fabric markets for the best threads and threaders, hoping to get our hands on custom-made remakes and revamps of their beloved golden oldies.
Rita, New media editor

Rita, New media editor

White skirt – 400RMB
I dropped by Daxin at Dongsi to have an old skirt remade. Not many people get casual clothing custom-made these days, so Daxin was larger than I expected. I immediately picked a white silk fabric with a Chinese ink print.

Bargaining for a good deal with the shop assistant almost killed me. Tip: don’t threaten vendors by saying you’ll take your business to a different tenant. All the vendors in the building work for Daxin, so you won’t get a better price! Instead, try: ‘Oh, that’s way more than Muxiyuan, I’d rather go there.’

In total I paid 400RMB (half for fabric, half for handiwork). Even though the original was 560RMB, I still don’t know if the price is worth it. As a newbie I don’t know much about fabric, so it was hard to choose the right one. Next time, I’ll ask more questions about fabrics and cuts.

Pat, Things to Do editor

Pat, Things to Do editor

Aztec-patterned shirt – 190RMB

I picked up my favourite shirt on holiday last year, but 12 more months here in Beijing treating my body like a temple – Temple Bar, that is – and the party piece is now tight in all the wrong places.

I delved into the depths of Muxiyuan Fabric Market knowing that chances of finding the same garish elephant print were slim, so a new party shirt was to be born. After hours of wandering the mazy market, I hit the funky fabric jackpot and picked up two metres of this Aztec number for 60RMB.

Many tailors only take bulk uniform orders at Muxiyuan, and I didn’t think the rest of the Time Out team were quite ready for this one. So instead, I went to Daxin Textile Co and found a tailor to do the work for 130RMB.

A week later and the fit is nearly perfect. My only qualm is that it’s a touch too long, but that’s just a lesson for next time – I’ll be heading back to get seven more made come payday.

Ellen, Shopping & Style editor

Ellen, Shopping & Style editor

Navy velvet trousers – 380RMB

I lived in this pair of wide-leg trousers last summer but they’re cropped and white, so impractical for Beijing winter. At Daxin Textile Co, I haggled a swath of navy velvet down to 80RMB per metre (picking up two metres in total) and decided to have the trousers remade in a version more suitable for zero degree weather.

On recommendation from a friend, I visited Xue Yu Tailor. Yu was a delight; she made a few sketches, took measurements and – call me a sucker, but – when Yu offered 220RMB, I didn’t even bargain.

At my first fitting, my pants were too big all over, but with a day of alterations they fit like a perfect, soft, velvety glove. For a grand total of 380RMB (plus Didi fare to Wangjing twice), I could have purchased a similar pair of trousers from Zara. But the quality is definitely better and it’s cool to know the person making your clothes.

Ronnie, Time Out Tickets liaison

Ronnie, Time Out Tickets liaison

Grey collared shirt – 200RMB
My idea was to get a copy made of my first custom-tailored piece: the shirt I wore as the best man at a friend’s wedding. Unfortunately, it’s become a bit snug. I went to Daxin Textile Co, where I was chased by lots of different tailors. 

I found a cotton vendor and was drawn to her ’70s styles: polka dots and paisley. Too flashy though, right? I guess I’m not that bold and opted instead for a classic houndstooth, similar to the original.

My tailor, Caesar, seemed to have a deal with this vendor and they offered 370RMB together (fabric 120RMB, tailoring 250RMB). I was able to negotiate down to 220RMB, but when I went to pay after a long back-and-forth bargaining, I think they forgot what they agreed on and only charged me 200RMB. Score! It fits great – better than at Uniqlo, where I usually buy my button-ups.

Amy, Deputy editor

Amy, Deputy editor

Grey skort – 220RMB
I wanted to create a winter- and work-appropriate version of my beloved summer skort, so I headed to the huge Muxiyuan Wholesale Fabric Market and walked away with a 60RMB metre of grey herringbone.

Seamstress Xue Yu Tailor in Wangjing sketched out my design and had me measured in five minutes. I was quoted 220RMB. No haggling required. A week later I went back for a fitting. Everything was on the baggy side, but Yu was happy to make the adjustments I asked for, and a day later it was fitting perfectly.

Where to go?

Xue Yu Tailor

Xue Yu Tailor

Wangjing-based tailor and womenswear specialist; by appointment only (6433 1445).

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