The fakes, that is. I went out yesterday looking for Shanghai's XiangYang clothing market, a rat's nest of piracy and counterfeiting (and hence, very popular with tourists), only to discover it had recently been torn down. No matter, there were several people on hand only too willing to lead me to the fake watches, bags, shoes, and shirts I desired.
On this visit I was particularly impressed with the quality of the watches and shoes. I actually shelled out $30 for a fake rolex, because I was so impressed that it actually had a self-winding mechanism, and I honestly could not tell it apart from my dad's rolex (same model), and I am eager to put them side by side for a comparison.
Later, it even occured to me that I should go to the Rolex shop in Beijing and ask them how I can tell a real Rolex from these high-quality fakes (buy it in a Rolex shop?). Maybe I can even turn the whole thing into an article of countereits and try in get it published in an expat magazine (wheels turning. . .).
Oddly enough, one of the screws in the watch band came off in my pocket as I was walking back to the hotel. No matter to me, since the band was too large anyway, and I need one or two links removed, but it struck me as very odd. The band is certainly not the costliest or most complex part of faking a Rolex, so why skimp on that part (if it indeed was something more than just that the screw was not put in properly)? Wouldn't you want to invest the extra fifty cents to preserve the illusion of quality for at least a while?
I also picked up a pair of fake Ferragamo loafers for $30, we'll see how they hold up. They seemed to be using at least OK quality leather (to my very untrained eye and touch), and the stitching seemed secure and even. Only time will tell. Oddly, similar looking shoes from no-name Chinese brands cost more in the shops I've seen, but maybe that's because of the cost of actually renting storefront space instead of selling out of a back-alley apartment.