Brian's Blogs

Special Me Is a Suave Dude

I’ve had it on good authority that I’m someone special. No, I really mean it. Today I was told on no fewer than three occasions – while visiting Beijing’s Yashow market – that because I was such a special person, they wanted to offer me a special price on their shirts and trousers – simply because I was a special customer. OK, I didn’t ask what made me special, as it was obvious they could see genius when it stood in front of them; but it was nice to be recognised as such.

At one stall they were selling Armani and Paul Smith shirts, but one hears so many stories of fake goods being sold that I wanted to know if these were genuine or not. “Of course they genuine, Meester. See here Armani label. Here Po-well Ser-meeth. No fake here!”

Suitably impressed by their reassurances, I soon had found five shirts that I could add to my winter wardrobe (winter is fast approaching now with daytime temperatures plummeting from their summer highs).

Attached to each shirt was a certificate of authenticity – just in case sceptical little me needed more persuasion. The Armani shirts even had their original price left on – somebody must have been careless and forgotten to take them off. A whopping €230; but obviously the RMB has appreciated a lot in recent days as I was able to bring down the price of each shirt to 48RMB (or €5.5).

Armani, I think, must be falling on hard times. On the band holding the shirt in place on the cardboard backing, was a reminder that this is a famous brand, just in case they were dealing with non-fashionistas, perhaps? But I would suggest that Giorgio writes this notice in Italian next time, just to make it sound more authentic.

No such problem for Paul Smith who is obviously better known in the Chinese market place.

But I was intrigued that both the Armani and Paul Smith shirts had been pinned up in exactly identical ways. Could it be that they now share a common manufacturer over here in China to save on costs?

This to me would make perfect sense as they also both give away a free plastic bag, tucked alluringly into the folds of the shirt – a surprise gift when you unwrap the shirt from its cardboard housing.

Not wishing to drop names or anything, but I have personally met Paul Smith in one of his favourite coffee bars in London’s Covent Garden. Next time I see him I must remember to have a word with him about his packaging. OK, so the guy can’t be expected to oversee every aspect of every type of packaging; but I think even he might be a little surprised by a label on one of his bags telling us that “This bag is NIT a toy” and we should therefore “keep away from CHILDDREN”. Maybe he needs to get himself a new copywriter?

Yes, I know it is easy to be a clever so-and-so, and if both Paul and Giorgio are looking to cut costs then I can understand their reluctance to pay good proof readers. But it does make a difference to us fashionable guys about town who can appreciate quality when we see it

Special little me paid out 240 renminbi for the five shirts as the store keeper suggested that maybe I had some friends who also could spot a bargain like this. Telling myself to remember to spread the word, I headed off to the floor selling men’s trousers where Mr Armani had also been busy.

Were these trousers genuine? I asked the trouser sales lady? “Of course they genueen Meester,” she said looking suitably shocked. “See it says so here on label.” And indeed it did. How could anyone be so doubting, I asked myself.

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