Famous for its silk and precise tailoring, shopping in Vietnam can provide you with so much more than just those souvenir cone hats.
In Hoi An, the tailors will whip up your heart’s desire. Just show them a picture, pick out your fabric, and you’ll get something bespoke within 24 hours for a song. But in Ho Chi Minh (also known as Saigon) and Hanoi, there are also stores where you can try on plant-dyed silk separates, beach-beautiful hats, and even get a non-toxic manicure when you’re done.
Here’s where to go shopping for fashion if you want to ensure you’re supporting ethical local artistry in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh
The smaller location of this brand showcases organic cotton fashion, but with three levels of splendour, the Metiseko silk store is where Vietnamese craft really shines. Find lightweight shirt dresses, beautiful scarves with tassels and instructions on how to tie them in your head, blouses in pastel prints, jumpsuits, trousers, bags, tassel earrings, pillows, and quilts.
If you’re looking for a fantastic hat to wear to Phu Quoc, this is the place. Located in a charming little apartment, the Leinné stores bursts with hats and purses handmade in Vietnam with Madagascar raffia.
Go down an alley and up two flights of stairs to find this little boutique nestled inside a sort of mini shopping center. It has silk kimonos handmade in Ho Chi Minh with fabric from Japan, that famous wooden basket purse from up north, plus linen shirts and skirts.
Finish your day with a non-toxic manicure from this soothing salon. I didn’t have time to go, but it came on personal recommendation from a Vietnamese-French designer!
You can’t miss visiting the store of Vietnam’s most famous sustainable designer brand. Fabrics like silk, hemp, and cotton are dyed using plant material by female artisans in communities across northern Vietnam. You can see the unique results in men’s and women’s jackets, trousers, shirts, and even evening gowns. It’s an inspiring case of modern prints and silhouettes accomplished by traditional means.
This store is the real deal, so don’t even try to haggle. Dive in and you’ll find a wonderland of antique fashion, accessories, and home goods from the ethnic-minority tribes of Vietnam. Point to anything, and you’ll get a brief lesson in where it comes from, who made it, and what it means. I got an amazing 50-year-old necklace by the Red Yao minority of Vietnam that I have up on my wall, and an embroidered antique blanket from Thai minority of the Nghe An Province. My husband got a beautiful black jacket by the Lān Ten Yao minority, from the Lao Caí Province. I asked Kilomet109’s founder and designer Vu Thoa if this store was OK (I didn’t want to be involved in buying anything unethical) and she pointed to two stools in her store and said they were from there. You’re in good hands in this shop.