Monday, October 7, 2013

Clothing in China

counterfeit clothing
Ah yes, I "LOAE" Paul Frank too! ...My guess is that
counterfeiting probably has something to
 do with the exorbitantly high prices in China also. 
So over vacation, Betty and I of course had to do the little shopping trip or two, and let me just say, purchasing clothing here is surprisingly expensive, and not in the like, 物美价廉, you get what you pay for sort of way.

So we are in downtown Hangzhou just checking out the area, and Betty spotted a shirt that she liked, so we go in to check it out.... And this shirt is cute, but its really lacking in quality, practically coming apart at the seams, and the fabric is really thin and this sort of faux-suede material. I would say comparable to something you would find at Forever 21 in the states, the price point, if I were to guess, couldn't have been more that like $15 USD or so. But we flip over the price tag and it was a whopping 540元, which is like almost $100 USD! I couldn't believe it!

This price turned out to be standard at most of the other stores that we went into in the area. Most things hovered in the 450-600元 range, and for anything nicer that like Forever 21 quality, you were looking at something more like 1000元. I couldn't believe my eyeballs, I tell you. I asked Betty what she thought of the prices, if it was just that this area was extra posh or touristy, but she said that most of the shops around our university in Nanjing were in similar price ranges, and seems to be the standard range for clothes purchased in-store.

As we browsed the racks, I thought of my sister Sofie, who has a part-time job at a high-end retail store. She is always talking about the large number of customers visiting from China that she helps. This always struck her as sort of remarkable, because really, they go in and buy  A LOT of stuff, and spend a lot of money. We always wondered what that was all about, and I always conjectured that it was just the Chinese 追求名牌 "chasing brand name" phenomenon that we learned about in my Chinese class, but now that I am in China shopping, it seems like it could also be simply attributed to a cost benefit thing.

For example, if you could pay $90 to get a cheap shirt from some no name clothing retailer; or you could stalk up on name brand, better made stuff for just a little bit extra when you like, visit your Uncle in the US or something like that, which would you do? You would probably just wait it out, to get a whole bunch of the good stuff at one time, right? For like a similar price! So to them, purchasing "luxury" goods in the US is basically the same price, with more benefits: you get the flashy logo on it, which definitely has appeal here in China, and, if that shirt we saw the other day was any indicator of the quality of clothing here as a whole, you also get much nicer and well made pieces of clothing.

It really was an interesting experience to go shopping here, and it sort of put things into perspective for me as far as why American luxury brands are so popular with Chinese people. Very interesting.