One of my male colleagues wanted to get a jacket and shirt made, and dragged me along for a second opinion.
He wasn't ready to deal with the zoo-like atmosphere of the Silk Market so we headed to the next place I knew of, a shop in Wangfujing.
There were hundreds of bolts of fabric, mostly silk for women, but at the back left corner was the men's section.
He knew he wanted a mandarin-collar jacket in charcoal gray and a shirt to match. And when we went through the fabric, I picked one of the most expensive ones, a soft cashmere wool. It would have blown our budget. The saleswoman, who also spoke English, helped us find a cheaper wool fabric in just the shade we were looking for.
We balked at the price for making the jacket and shirt, and tried to bargain. But she said this was a "time-honoured brand" store, having been around for 100 years and guaranteed quality so price was not something to mess around with. But seeing as we weren't tourists needing a suit in two days, they fudged the numbers so that the total was closer to our budget (526RMB for the jacket, 300RMB for the shirt).
Then we headed over to another section for cotton fabric. Strangely enough, there wasn't a big selection of bolts for men's shirts. You'd think in the land of cotton there would be more to choose from. After going back and forth and discussing prices and then colours, we finally settled on a white cotton with lots of tiny pink dots so it looked pink from far away. The pink would soften up the charcoal gray and also work as a shirt on its own.
After paying for the fabric and labour all up front, a tailor took my friend's measurements quickly and methodically, even drawing diagrams for the jacket and shirt so we were all on the same page.
The fitting is next weekend so I'll let you know how it goes.