Faux Goods. As Good?

silk-marketRecently Jack Ma, the famed founder of Ali Baba was quoted to have said that Chinese fake goods can be as good as the real deal, is it true? Being on the ground in China a lot, you see a ton of knock off goods with the most famous markets being the Silk Market in Beijing and the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum subway stop. I myself covet the intellectual property rights that have made for great amounts of innovation in Western countries over the years, and if this is violated all over the world, we’ll have a slowdown in innovation. However, after seeing a plethora of these things you almost need a microscope in some cases to figure out if the item is real or fake.


If you think this is just a seedy back alley guy with a trench coat saying, hey kid, want a Rolex? Think again. The Faux goods markets of China are huge and well organized. In fact, they are usually included in most tour group packages that take you through Beijing. The silk market in Beijing has photos on the wall of many US presidents and foreign leaders browsing the local goods. While these items don’t interest me myself, several friends that visit China like to take home a gift or two for the family and the detail on the watches is amazing. The difference between a $100,000 Patek Phillipe and the Chinese counterpart is really hard to spot. Heck, since most people don’t get to see many of those in their lifetime, they’d never know how to tell it apart from the real McCoy if it was on your wrist anyway.


The Rolexes are the obvious buy for most foreigners as this is the most common luxury watch they know of, so the factories have paid the most attention to detail when it comes to those as they are in such high demand. For most of the submariner watches, you would almost have to open them and see the clockwork to figure it out. They are all automatic now, not battery operated, so the second hand has the signature sweep. The basic way of telling from the outside is looking closely at the placement of the Cyclops magnifier over the date, but even then, it would take an expert to figure it out.


The electronics are more of a mixed bag. You can definitely see and hear a quality difference between a real beats headset and a phony. Shoes and apparel also look nice upon first examination, but the lack of attention to detail in many of those products are much easier to spot than the watches.


Again, not to support Ma’s claim that phony goods are as good as the real deal, but the question herein lies, can some of these goods really be so different that they are worth several thousands of dollars more than ones made by the Chinese? Maybe we all need to rethink our material values.

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2 thoughts on “Faux Goods. As Good?

  1. Hey Brett, great post. A few years back some friends I know would occasionally purchase faux NFL football jerseys from China. The price was around $25 each, which was a great deal compared with almost $300 for the real thing. Although the jerseys they bought from China looked great, there was a great deal of variation in quality (which is never an issue with “officially licensed” NFL jerseys). Sizing was very inconsistent, as was the “cut” of the garments. Most were shaped like traditional jerseys while a few showed up shaped like t-shirts. Overall the benefit was on the side of the consumer (way more “good” jerseys were shipped than “bad” ones), but it really was unreliable. So the biggest concern (outside of the legal and moral issues) is what is your tolerance for bad product? Are you willing to absorb the poor-quality finished goods that are a part of the deal?


    1. Thanks Anthony. The Jersey quality I’ve seen from military vets returning from South Korea recently have been pretty spot on. I’m still not sure if they’re fake or discounted from the supplier, but an army bud gave me a #3 vintage Montana Notre Dame Jersey that is perfect !


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