Tailors see no silver lining in cheap suits
New Zealand tailors are cut up about hotel-based international tailors they claim are unfairly taking jobs out of New Zealand.
The Asia-based businesses regularly set up shop in New Zealand hotels for a few days at a time, collecting measurements for garments that are made overseas and sent back to the customer.
Domestic tailors say there is not much they can do to compete with their prices, which start around a third of the price of a local suit.
Yourstyle Tailoring managing director Antonio Antonopoulos started his Wellington-based boutique tailoring business about six years ago, making high-end suits from around $1200.
About a year ago he noticed advertisements for tailors coming from Asia offering a made-to-measure suit for about $400.
"Obviously there's a niche here because within six months there was four or five tailors coming in from Hong Kong."
Made-to-measures were Wellington tailors' "bread and butter" and without them they could not survive. Antonopoulos understood the attraction of the lower prices, but believed the visiting tailors were not paying taxes.
"We pay overheads, pay our rent, pay our rates, pay our taxes . . . it goes on and on and on."
Crane Brothers owner Murray Crane said he was aware of the tailors and was not particularly concerned, so long as they were paying their taxes.
"If you're worried about being undercut by someone that's selling a suit for $400 you're probably at the wrong end of the market really, I think."
An IRD spokesperson said the suits were classified as goods being supplied from outside New Zealand, so would be liable for GST when they arrived at the border.
According to the New Zealand Customs website, clothing worth more than $225 would incur duties of at least $60 and a $46.89 import entry transaction fee. A $400 suit, therefore, would cost the customer about $152 more in taxes.
The charges can be avoided if the package is incorrectly declared, however, Customs can seize the goods if that is discovered.
Retailers Association chief executive John Albertson said the tailors had been coming for years but consumers could buy from domestic tailors with a lot more confidence as there was immediate recourse should anything go wrong.
He was unsure how much tax the overseas tailors would be liable for and even paying.
"It's a free and competitive market and we can't stop them doing it."
Wellington barrister Iain Thorpe had a blue corduroy sports jacket and a dinner suit made by one of the overseas tailor firms, Raja Fashions, late last year.
He said he would recommend the business to others, even though the jacket arrived about six weeks later in a creamy colour.
"It looked terrible, and particularly terrible when I wore it, but they posted me out a courier pack and I returned it to them and then they sent me one in the correct colour and it was fine."
Tailored suits were necessary for him because of his 2-metre frame, and even though he was "utterly delighted" with his overseas tailoring, he was just as happy with experiences he had had in New Zealand.
He said he could not remember whether GST was included.
"I think it's quite appropriate that [domestic tailors] are concerned about that because if the price that you're getting is basically because you're ripping off [IRD] then it's not very fair, is it?"
Raja Fashions owner Raja Daswani could not be reached for comment.
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