#1: Pricing – pay for a mix of convenience, service, workmanship and fabric
Overall, what you pay for is a mix of convenience, service/advice, workmanship quality and fabric selection.
A price conscious consumer can get his/her tailoring fix from factories found in industrial estates. However, to get the lower price, he/she trades away rather important intangibles such as service and convenience that one might get at a conventional tailor shop.
#2: Convenience – don't ignore its importance
A key difference between the different available options is convenience.
Tailoring is a rather time-consuming process. If you are unlucky, you would need 3, 4 trips to the tailor before you get it right. Hence, the cost of your time and the cost of travelling could easily outweigh any price savings.
The importance of convenience cannot be overstated. Imagine having to travel to an industrial estate like Ubi, not once, not twice but three or four times – a time consuming process to say the least.
#3: Advice/Personalised Service – strike a balance between price and service
Value for money is key. Striking a balance between price and service/advice is important.
Personalised service and advice is pretty much thrown out of the window if you go get your fix from the factories. Their low price strategy is often reliant on achieving high volumes, which mean lesser attention for each customer.
Those seeking more personalized service can get that in traditional tailor shops. $80 - $100 is a rather reasonable price for good advice, in my view. You don’t necessarily need to pay a king's ransom (e.g. S$150) for good advice.
#4: Quality of workmanship – focus on quality control of tailor
The unspoken secret in the industry is that most of the shops outsourced their production to a few major production centres, with some sending work to seamstresses who work at home.
I would imagine that the initial reaction to outsourcing is negative and perceived to be of lower quality. However, I beg to differ.
The crux of the matter is quality control. It is the responsibility of the tailor to ensure that the product comes out right. This is regardless of whether it is done in-house or outsourced. Tailors who pay attention to details, (and you can feel/see when interacting with them), tend to be better at QC.
#5: Fabric Selection – don't worry about choice but worry about misrepresentation
Don't worry about choice. Most shops have at least 300 well differentiated fabrics to choose from. Those looking for more options can go to fabric centres such as People's Park and Textile Centre to source for their own fabric and bring it to any tailor shop or at-home seamstress for it to be sewn.
For those looking to pamper themselves, the higher priced shops, especially the more established ones, tend to offer better fabrics (European imports) which may not be available at your mid-market tailors.
For the price conscious, be aware that low prices may sometimes be achieved by offering lower quality fabric such as 100% polyester type being misrepresented as 100% cotton. Your clothes might come cheap but you won't find yourself wearing it much.