“I want to be charming for visits to my relatives and friends and for photos during Tet. An ao dai is always my best choice,” said Tran Ngoc Bao Chau, who works and lives in Singapore.
Chau asked a friend in HCM City to buy her an ao dai.
“I’ll return to Vietnam on December 28 of Lunar New Year (February 13). It’s too late for shopping,” said the 31-year-old Chau, adding that ready-to-wear clothes were her only choice.
Chau spent several days looking for hundreds of items on Facebook of ready-to-wear shops in HCM City.
Finally, she chose a brocade ao dai in pink with images of peonies from Ha Cuc, a brand which is famous among young people and celebrities.
The set of ao dai and a pair of silk trousers cost 2.5 million VND (110 USD).
“For overseas or busy people, ready-to-wear ao dai is very convenient, while tailor-made clothes take at least 10 days to make,” Chau said.
This year, Ha Cuc offers six designs of brocade ao dai in pastel pink, fuchsia, red, pastel blue, black and white, printed with images of squirrels, cranes, orchids, peony or chrysanthemums.
According to a saleswoman at Ha Cuc store in HCM City, their ao dai are made of high-quality fabrics with elegant patterns, loved by many young people and celebrities such as singers Yen Trang and Yen Nhi, and Duong Tu Anh, the first runner-up of Miss Vietnam 2012.
Meanwhile, Boxshop, which sells local ready-to-wear clothes, has introduced hundreds of ao dai designs in different styles.
The clothes are made of brocade, linen, taffeta silk, voile and cotton with printed or embroidered patterns of flowers and cranes.
Due to the popularity of the film Co Ba Sai Gon (The Tailor), a movie by director Ngo Thanh Van highlighting ao dai, designs with dots and antique ceramic tile patterns are popular.
Each ao dai costs 399,000-950,000 VND (18-42 USD), depending on quality and design.
Nguyen Thao, owner of Boxshop, said that ready-to-wear ao dai were preferred by Vietnamese women, especially young people.
“We welcome hundreds of customers buying ao dai to our stores in 1, 3, 7 and Phu Nhuan districts every day. Our online orders have reached in the thousands,” said Thao.
Tran My Tien, a teacher at a high school in Dong Nai province, said she has dozens of ao dai to go to school, but decided to buy ready-to-wear clothes for herself and her daughter.
“I want my daughter and I to wear the same ao dai in Tet. Ready-to-wear clothes are suitable because they are not very expensive, and have joyful patterns and bright colours,” Tien said.
Tien visited the gorDress shop on Dien Bien Phu street in District 1 to buy two ao dai in red at only 650,000 VND (29 USD).
“I earned a bargain,” she said, smiling.
According to a seller at the gorDress shop, the ready-to-wear ao dai are not as tight fitting as traditional costumes.
“We want to make women comfortable,” she said.
Apart from ao dai, many shops offer dresses having designs and patterns like ao dai with a cheaper price, but with the same quality.
While a brocade ao dai costs 950,000-1.5 million VND (42-66 USD), a dress with similar fabrics is priced for only 500,000 VND (22 USD).
Boxshop’s owner Thao said: “These dresses are favourites of young people who want to pay less, but still have a pretty and quality outfit for Tet.”