Friday, February 6, 2009

Fake Chic

China's fake goods' markets, or shanzhai, are getting more sophisticated and innovative.

From Reuters:

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - It's time to ditch the designer goods and adopt fake fashion, say some Chinese, as "sham glam" takes the world's most populous nation by storm.

Though previously shunned as unsophisticated, fake products increasingly have their own chic appeal in China and a fashionable moniker -- "shanzhai."

Literally meaning "mountain fort," the term "shanzhai" is applied to everything from knock-off trainers and mobile phones to lookalike celebrities and television shows, and refers to the remote, maybe lawless locations they traditionally get made in.

And the popularity of these goods seems sure to grow as China's economy slows along with the rest of the world and real designer products spin out of the price range of more Chinese.

Many "shanzhai" goods sport altered names, trying to tread a fine line between imitation and straight-out fake, and cost much less than their above-board, well-known brand-name equivalents.

Samsung goes to Samsing, Adidas goes to Odidoss or Avivas and Hike, Like or even Mike substitute for Nike, with the U.S. sports wear firm's mark at times reversed and given an extra flourish.

Read On
I've spoken at great lengths about Xi'an's fake goods' markets. They really are everywhere. You can buy fake Nikes from literally dozens of places around town. In fact, it's harder for me to think of where you can actually buy real authentic pairs. There are places selling the legit western products, but they're fewer and farther between.

This article is interesting where it talks about the difficulty and, often, unwillingness of law enforcement officials to prosecute the the peddlers of fake brands.

There truly is an acceptance of fake goods in Chinese culture. So much so in fact that it's hard to see if and when the culture of fake products will ever end.

That's not to say that every Chinese person endorses the buying of fake goods though.

Jackie, for instance, does not like having fake products. She'd rather have fewer real, quality products than several fake knock-offs for the same price. Jackie refers to the fake clothing as "farmer fashion." By this, she means that only farmers and people from the countryside find the fake clothes and their poor-quality exciting and fashionable.

One aspect that I've thought about recently relating to fake clothing and electronics products is this:

A lot of fuss has been made in the past about Nike's use of sweatshops and terrible labor practices. If Nike, a western company selling expensive products, is considered to have questionable labor policies, one can only imagine what the Chinese-run knock-off counterpart to Nike's practices are.

These fake products' factories can't possibly be pretty sights.


Matthew said...

In some areas in Shenzhen we get to play the game of find the genuine article. It's really fun to tell a shopkeeper his product is a fake and then watch him insist that it's real.

Anonymous said...

It would be cool to find a couple of those factories, you dont see much journalism of those, that would be a cool thing to photograph, then maybe compare the two factories.

Alex said...

It would seem that our Western obsession with abstract notions of "real" and "fake" mean nothing in a part of the world where filling your belly is not a certainty.

jersey said...

As a buyer, there is really a difficulty in determining whats original and whats not.