Aug 30 2012
Your favourite T-shirt turned pink at the laundrette in Hue, you lost your shorts somewhere between Ko Samui and Bangkok – now, where did they go? – or you’re simply bored of wearing the same tatty clothes day in day out. Sound familiar? With a little knowledge you’ll find some Western-sized clothes in Hanoi, though the city isn’t the best place for Westerners to add to their off-the-rack wardrobe.
If you’re on the small side, then buying new clothes in Hanoi shouldn’t cause much of a problem, although it may depend on your willingness to embrace Vietnamese style. And average sized women will be fine too, particularly if just looking for floaty dresses and skirts. However, if you’re tall or chunky (for want of a better all encompassing word) and not keen on souvenir T-shirts – think Vietnamese flags, Uncle Ho’s face, I love pho – you might welcome a few tips.
Papaya and Ginkgo are Vietnamese T-shirt brands with outlets in Hanoi and across the country. While their designs for men and women are popular, they’re still a bit more stylish than the streetside options and the quality’s good – plus the XL size really is extra large. Papaya has a branch at 93 Ma May and Ginkgo is at 44 Hang Be and 79 Hang Gai — all in Old Quarter. T-shirts cost from 300,000 VND and Gingko also has long-sleeved options, perfect for that chilly Hanoi winter.
Boo Skateshop and Bo Sua are other chains with branches around the capital. As well as T-shirts they sell shoes, jumpers, trousers and jackets, although extra-large sizes are in short supply and designs are perhaps too quirky for some. There’s a branch of each on Ta Hien; check out details of their other stores on their website.
If you’re looking for something a bit more grown-up — that is, no cheeky or clever illustrations — then Made in Vietnam might meet your need. You’ll see shops all over Hanoi: in theory they sell factory seconds of brand-name clothes made in Vietnam for export, but as you’d expect in Vietnam, they’re not all authentic. Stock is variable across locations and from day to day; they get what they can, when they can, but if you’re lucky you’ll manage to snag a bargain. The branch nearest to Old Quarter is at 12 Hang Bac, near the top end of Hang Be.
NinoMaxx at 136 Hang Bong has mostly Vietnamese-style clothing, but does stock some larger sizes — including jeans to fit even a large size bottom and shirts that won’t rip like the Incredible Hulk’s when you reach for a beer. Hang Bong is also home to a number of sports shops, including Adidas, Puma and Reebok, in case you’re going for the sports look.
If budget’s no option, then head to Vincom on Ba Trieu where you’ll find brands including Levi, French Connection, Birkenstock and Versace, but expect to pay a premium on what you might pay back home and be warned that sizes and styles are still limited.
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