[Wanderlust Tips April 2018] Perhaps, you will not be able to find somewhere else in the world where a national costume or a fashionable pair of shoes is perfectly made and completed in the time you sip a cup of coffee.
AO DAI MADE IN A “SHORT TIME”
My girlfriend always wishes to visit Hue to enjoy dining with hundreds of dishes from luxury royal cuisine to cheap street food, and like any other daydreaming girls, she loves sailing on Huong River, which is famous in poetry. For me, it’s different; I have always been impressed with the beautiful girls of Hue, wearing their graceful, purple Ao Dai.
Many years ago, when I was still a young man, I fell in love with Hue, in a moment, sitting right in front of the Hue High School for the Gifted, on an afternoon in October. The sunshine at the end of the day spread a layer of golden carpet on every road, on ancient citadels, and on the smile of young Hue girls. As a young man at the time, I was mesmerized each time I saw a group of school girls in purple or white Ao Dai, conical hats and their deep Hue accents. My dream was to date a girl from Hue. Though my dream did not come true, I brought my girlfriend to Hue. It is interesting that she loves Ao Dai and wishes to have her Ao Dai tailored in Hue.
The ancient capital is well-known for the symbol of the delicate and graceful Ao Dai which reveals the charm of women from the land of Huong River and Ngu Mountain. People visiting Hue often go to temples, citadels, palaces and try unique specialties as well as choose souvenirs to bring home. Women often choose to buy Ao Dai because it is fashionable and represents the soul of Hue. Of course, you do not have to wait for a week like at the tailor shop in your city to get a nice Ao Dai; it is made only in 3-10 hours with almost perfect services, which will satisfy any fastidious woman.
Ao Dai tailor shops in Hue have survived a hundred of years with skillful craftsmen, specializing in tailoring for the royal palace people. The material used to make Ao Dai in Hue is silk or linen. You can buy the fabric yourself then take it to the tailor shop or choose the fabric right at the shop. Tailoring services in Hue are not only fast and well-qualified but also very professional. All your measurements will be saved so that if you want another one, you can just make a phone call and they will make it for you. All tailor shops have delivery services, or you can even order online in advance and come to pick it up when it is convenient for you. You may think that it is almost impossible that the Ao Dai would fit you perfectly on the first try and would need many adjustments.
However, do not worry, the craftsmanship, master tailoring skills, and thoughtful customer services will satisfy you. The staff will deliver the product to the hotel where you stay and wait while you are trying it. If you are not satisfied, they will adjust it until it fits you well, and you do not have to pay any additional cost. Therefore, my girlfriend also had an Ao Dai made in Hue; she looks so graceful and gentle like the girls in the ancient capital by the Huong River.
Some famous Ao dai tailor shops in Hue: Truong Anh Hao tailor shop at No.61 Ben Nghe, Minh Tan tailor shop at No. 57 Nguyen Sinh Cung, Doan Trang tailor shop at No. 2 Kiet 56, Bach Dang Street, Tham tailor shop at No. 42 Tran Nguyen Han, Ao Dai Bich Thuy No. 15 Chu Van An, etc.
MEASURE FEET TO MAKE SHOES IN HOI AN
My girlfriend got a beautiful purple Ao Dai, and I rewarded myself with a pair of shoes from a craftsman of Hoi An. I still did not have a pair of boat shoes which can match perfectly with jeans, chinos, shorts, t-shirts, linen shirts, and blazers for a young and dynamic look. The difference between boat shoes and drive ones is the shoelace at the top and the non-slip rubber sole. A genuine pair of Boat shoes is often expensive, so I have found and saved some samples on my phone for Hoi An’s craftsmen to refer to.
The picturesque Hoi An’s ancient street is along the Hoai River with its modest ancient houses; Hoi An people are leisurely and gentle, like the smoke of agarwood incense hanging in each alley. After choosing a brand, I started to show my ideas to the craftsman. At first, I wanted to make authentic puce shoes, but after looking at the leather collection of the shop, I wanted to make dozens of pairs, one colour for each. The craftsman will take meticulous measurements of your feet and shoe types, consult suitable leather kinds, shoe tip and sole type before cutting the leather, shaping the form, sewing, pressing the sole, decorating with accessories (if any) and polishing. Every step is implemented by the most skilled craftsmen of the commercial port Hoi An.
The mouldings on each shoe are carefully sewn to be suitable for your own style. The craftsman will give you the shoes that not only are a perfect fit but also unique to match the personality of the owner. If there is anything that does not meet your requirements, the craftsman will even make a new pair for you to make sure you are satisfied. Each pair of shoes will be guaranteed from 6 months to a year at very reasonable prices for the majority of visitors.
So, on our trip, my girlfriend got an Ao Dai featuring Hue culture to heighten the graceful beauty of each woman, and for me, I was completely satisfied with the pair of boat shoes which were exclusive and stylish like they were made only for me. Above all, what struck us most is that all of these products, from the Ao Dai to the shoes, were completely handmade in a very short time. During the time you are sipping a cup of coffee and looking at the stream of people passing by, the product is completed perfectly.
Some shoe shops in Hoi An: Yaly shoe shop, Frendly shoe shop, 09 shoe shop, Than Thien shoe shop, Hieu Trung leather shop, and over 30 other shops in Hoi An’s ancient street.
Tran Giap | Wanderlust Tips