Custom Saigon

Are you seeking a Western lifestyle? Not the affluent western-world lifestyle where you get to gripe about your petty grievances and first world problems. No, the other one with horses and lassos and awesome shirts in it.

Well  if you answered yes to this question above then you’re in good company. Sometimes even your skinny jeans wearing, ironic moustache grooming, stripey shirted fixie rider wants to go a little western. When such impulses come over  me I reach for the Miller shirt.

The Miller ranch shirt is getting hard to find these days. Even a search on ebay resulted only in some muck called Mac Miller shirts and Miller beer shirts. Nothing to rival the beauty of a Miller western shirt in all its checkered polyester glory.

Lucky for me my wife bought me one at a vintage fair some years back. I wear it every time I go to Melbourne, where people fawn over it like it’s double-butted Italian-made tubing and wistfully describe to me the Miller shirt they  would have owned when they young except their parents were too tight. My Miller is getting a bit old though and that’s where Vietnam comes in,  in a kind of East meets Western-shirt embrace.

For me, getting some clothes custom made is part of the deal when I go to Vietnam. Hoi An is famous for having hundreds of tailors who’ll knock out anything from shorts two sizes to big to quality suits and business shirts (I got both from the same tailor). Though it should be famous for this guy:

(Show off.)

This time round I wasn’t going anywhere near Hoi An so I had to rely on the tailors of Saigon instead. That’d be fine except for the somewhat lackluster results my friends had experienced with Saigon tailors. Viet tailors dealing with Vietnamese clientèle can’t suddenly knock out a couple shirts you and I would want wear. And if they did they’d be boring business shirts and may not fit you any better than  a prêt-à-porter  shirt. Asian tailors have a way of not quite believing the tape they just used to measure you. (Can westerners really be that fat?)  

(Vintage goods. The original Miller western shirt.)

Enter Masto Designs the brainchild of Andrew Masterton. He’s found a tailor he works with who transforms our half-baked ideas of  funky shirts into reality. He has a room full of colorful fabrics from which he’s only too happy to help you mix and match  (over  a glass of  red) and a bunch of designs for  you to choose  from. Or, if you have your  prized Miller shirt with you he’ll use that as a pattern. 

(A Miller like you’ve never seen it, thanks to Mastro.)

The finished design isn’t 100% Miller. Andrew measured me and decided to shorten the sleeves and the tail of the shirt. We also drew it in a little across the chest because (I assume) it had stretched or something.. Then we got to choosing fabrics.

Immediately I was taken with the passion and energy which Andrew put into choosing and matching his fabrics. Dealing with Andrew reminded me of dealing with this dude when he started to match frame colors to wheels and grips and other bits of details I’d never thought to notice on a bike before. And it occurred to me that the  process of getting a custom shirt made isn’t all that different to getting a custom fixie made. Probably you should get the bike first and then get a couple shirts made to match.

(Miller’s never had this kind of detail. Contrasting fabric in the inside of the cuffs and collar.)

Just as the Jim Junkee will find details to compliment  a bike that I’d  never thought to bother with before the Masto maestro was all about finding matches, contrasts and subtle (or loud) differences to voice your shirt’s character. I ended up with two shirts, one a traditional Miller-type check and the other something from a different direction altogether. Both have contrasting fabrics on the inside of the cuffs and neck line. 


The quality and cut of the shirts is perfect. Unlike my Hoi An shorts these fit perfectly, and they’re neatly sewn and don’t  look like they’ll fray or pull away in any unexpected ways (unlike the seat of my Hoi An trousers). You pay a little more for these shirts as compared with other tailor-made stuff I’d had done in Vietnam ($30 per shirt at Mastro) but there’s no way you’d get anything like this made by any other tailor in Vietnam. And  there’s no way you’d get anything like this made on Oz for even a fraction of the cost. The comparison to Jube Customs is fitting here as they both great represent great value, a custom  made option for the same price you’d pay for the normal version.

If you’re thinking this sounds great and you’ll look up Andrew when you’re next in Saigon in 2018 then think again. Masto have a fool-proof system to help you submit measurements and Andrew is a veteran of the Skype consultation. He’ll walk you through fabrics and shirt designs and help you knock out anything from a business shirt to the a shirt so loud even Dr Karl would think twice about wearing it. 

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