My Barong Adventure

Today was my big fat barong adventure. I took the bus to the BART and met Kenny in El Cerrito. We headed up to Vallejo to a Filipino strip mall. Since we were there, we ate at Max’s — I figured we might as well keep the Filipino theme going. I was quickly reminded that Max’s is pretty mediocre. There wasn’t anything wrong with it…it’s just kind of meh.

After lunch we checked out Barong & Formal. As expected, the prices were higher than the online stores I saw. Jusi barongs started at $110 and pina barongs started at $270. There was a $20 charge for custom orders. The lady at the store said it was a $10 charge to rush the order. She claimed that barongs took three months to make, but she’d make sure to rush the order for me for the additional fee. This felt a bit scam-ish since the online stores said five to six weeks was the usual turnaround time. I mainly went to check out the difference between ramie, jusi, and pina fabrics. The high(er) price and the possible $10 scam convinced me not to buy from her.

After Kenny dropped me off at BART (big, big thanks to Kenny for helping me!), I decided to use MS Live Search on my phone to look for a Men’s Warehouse to get measurements done. Luckily, there was one on Market, right by the Montgomery BART station. The salesmen were kind of pushy and chintzy, so I quickly left. Using (the surprisingly useful and effective) MS Live Search again, I found a tailor across the street. This was much better…

…the lady was really friendly and helpful. I remembered most of the measurements I needed, but she reminded me of a few I totally spaced on. She didn’t charge me anything, but it seemed gauche not to show some kind of thanks so I gave her a Starbucks gift card. Still, I was scared that I forgot some measurements, so I called Rannie to check out the web site I was planning to order from. It turned out that I forgot about three measurements and totally made up one. (Thanks Rannie!!!) The lovely seamstress took the rest of my measurements and I was all set!

Finally, I got home and ordered my two barongs from A few people I know that are active in the Pinoy community here told me they were reputable. Their website was also better, by far, than the other online vendors I found. While that might not have much to do with the quality of the actual products, they should be rewarded for having a neat and functional website.

So yeah! My two barongs should be here by mid-July. It feels good to get that out of the way!

In case you were wondering, here’s what they’ll look like (roughly):

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