Getting ready to hustle – ordering made to measure suit in Shenzhen

Next day was Sunday, a famous lazy day. All I did was go shopping (finally had access to the full kitchen where I can cook – quite rare in Asia!). I treated myself with steak (but the price was way too high for this quality). Then I did my “chinese” meal, mix of meats and veggies and fruits. It was good, despite of having no spicies in it.

I ended up the day early, and went to sleep at 10 pm. My sleeping disorder was becoming annoying, and my body was telling me that I should take a solid rest. I spent 13 hours laying down, and woke up at 11 am. Had breakfast, wrote some stuff, and then we went for lunch to indian restaurant. It was the beginning of the extended weekend, so many people were working on the weekend, due to the fact that on Wednesday was the labors day – day off. I was scheduled to meet a local girl from CS, the one I was in touch long before coming. The communication was intense, and I knew she was not going to flake. She showed up with her friend, exactly at 4 pm, as scheduled. We were going to get myself a suit.

We went to the place where supposedly her uncle was doing suit business few years ago..

It was old dodgy building located at at one of the parallel street of Dongman Rd, 10 minutes walk from Laojie station. Inside guys were smoking, playing cards, and women sewing. We made it to the second floor, where in the end of the corridor we found the place with suits.

We approached the seller, and there was one suit I liked. But from the beginning was warned that it is polyester, and this color is impossible to obtain with wool. It sounded good, as if the seller knew what was talking about.

After some browsing through materials (this time no bullshit super 180 wool and cashmere).


(This is the style I DEFINITELY didn’t want!)


After 20 minutes I choose material, asking at least 5 times if this is going to be 100% wool. I was assured it would be. So didn’t even bargain too much (the price was around 230 USD – 1400 RMB for a woolen suit and one 100% cotton shirt). Not too bad.

The only thing was that I had to wait for one week until first fitting, due to the fact that labors day was on Wednesday.

It meant that I was grounded for another week, without even an option to search for the job.

In the meantime I used the oportunity of walking with local chinese, and got myself done a nice set of business cards – 200 pieces for 40 RMB.


Life was quite easy, activities were limited to just shopping in the WalMart, partying in the Coco-park – a ghetto for foreigners who didn’t speak chinese – mostly english teachers.

Using my newly acquired business cards I started networking like crazy. I would speak to everyone on the parties/events, and whoever sounded promising, I would be straight to the point asking if that the company of that person needed a talented sales person, or maybe some of the acquitances did. I was restless, and had the energy I never experienced before.

Somewhere back in my head was the image of me being totally successful, driving that Gallardo, living in centrally located nice apartment and have handful of beautiful chicks surrounding me. And of course possibility of travel within my professional duties.

This all seemed possible in China, where 20 something years old english teacher with zero other skills was making enough to get a nice apartment, go out to posh places and even save up some decent cash. I was really driven.

I would keep texting the people from my list. I did quite long and descriptive entires in my phone book, to be able to know after several weeks who is who (and the possible scale of importance). I also learned that communicators on the phone are the most efficient way of setting things up – not only in China, but from what I read in whole Asia. Since I have a phone with ancient symbian operating system, I wasn’t even able to install those apps. Certificates, disconnections and all kinds of shit. Promised myself to never ever buy nokia again, and switch to android instead.

Days were going by, and finally came the time when my suit was ready for first measurements. Already learnt that being a foreigner here without a command of mandarin you can’t do a shit, so I was lucky to manage to take 5 people with me, including 3 locals.

We arrived in the establishment, and fitting took place. I started sweating immediately after putting the half finish suit on. I asked the seller to cut a bit of the material.

I did a homework before and knew how different materials burn. After a quick burn test it was obvious that material was polyester, not wool. The seller, however, was keeping poker face, stating that it is wool, she knows what she sells and likewise.

She didn’t want to make any refund, and I didn’t want to make anymore business with her.

It took our big group 40 minutes of persuasion to get most of my deposit back, after one of guys said we will all sleep here, and I was accidentally waving the ligher closer and closer to the garments. To burn this place down didn’t seem a bad idea. Finally, we settled on handing me back 300 RMB, out of 500 I paid as deposit. I was promised I will get a shirt, since it was ready anyways, but I have to come back another day. I was willing to fight till getting full refund, but chinese guys convinced me that it will lead nowhere. The point of that experience is, if I was by myself, foreigner with no mandarin skills, I would get no refund, and would just waste time and more money.

Couple of days later I came back to pick up my shirt. It looked nice, but was 100% polyester. I wore it first time when I was going to interview, and on the way just picked up some other shirt – that looked like cotton. So in aftermath I wasted over a week and couple of hundreds RMB.

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