Tucked behind an arcade of busy stores, Sam’s Tailor in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui doesn’t look like much from the outside—a small shop crammed with customers—but photographs lining the walls belie its reputation.
As I waited for my appointment, I perused photos of the shop’s most notable clients, spanning royalty (Prince Charles) to politics (the Clintons and the Bushes) to fashion (Kate Moss) to movies (Kevin Spacey) to music (David Bowie).
Hong Kong is renowned for the 24-hour suit—a marvel of British-style tailoring and Asian efficiency. Luckily, I had a few days in Hong Kong and could schedule more than one fitting. I came to Sam’s armed with ripped-out magazine pages of my ultimate fashion fantasy: a slim-cut, Le Smoking tuxedo made famous by Yves Saint Laurent in 1966. Roshan Melwani, the original Sam’s grandson and fellow tailor, immediately knew what I was gunning for, and pulled down books of fabrics for me page through. After viewing and touching every iteration, I selected an all-weather, wrinkle-resistant black fabric and a rich burgundy paisley lining. I also ordered a tuxedo shirt with a pleated front and French cuffs. The price? $450, a steal compared to an off-the-rack designer suit, which average about $2,000. In the middle of the shop, Melwani took my measurements and told me to come back the next day for a fitting.
On my second visit, I tried on pants with an unfinished waistband and a jacket with only one full sleeve. Chalk lines indicated where darts, a silk lapel or pockets would go. Already, the fit was better and more flattering than anything I’d ever worn. As I changed back into my slouchy sundress in the dressing room, a signed photograph of Hillary Clinton seemed to be looking down at me approvingly.
The next day, I picked up the finished product. The shirt was crisp; the jacket and pants were sharp but comfortable. To my surprise and delight, the shirt had my initials discreetly embroidered using white thread at the cuff, and a tag inside the jacket stated my full name and the date the suit was made. Melwani kept my measurements so I could order other items when I returned home. But I know I’ll be back in person for more.
Where to go:
Sam’s Tailor, K1 Burlington Arcade, 90-94C Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong (samstailor.com).
Where to stay:
Bishop Lei International House in the swanky Mid-Levels neighborhood is a short walk to the SoHo escalators and overlooks the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens (from $133 per night, bishopleihtl.com.hk). It operates a free shuttle to and from Central, Admiralty and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Ask for a room with views of Victoria Harbor.