On Beijing’s famous Silk Market you see mainly foreigners buying fake brand name clothing. Most of them are tourists, who know the place from their guide books, or who are even taken to the fake market in tour groups. But also expats are a big group of buyers, especially the ones that are still relatively new to China. The Silk Market opened 22 years ago, and is still going strong, although the location was changed in 2004 from the small cosy alley behind its current location to a big new building without any atmosphere. I admit that I also used to buy products there when I was still living in Beijing. But somehow it feels weird to wear fakes and I prefer to buy the real stuff now. The quality of the originals seems to be better, and wearing something like a fake watch feels very cheap (but it’s a good way to test if you like the watch, I bought at least one real watch after trying the fake one out for a few days).
In Shanghai the famous Xiangyang market was closed last year June, and most of the stalls moved to different locations in the city. The vibe that the Xiangyang market had on a Saturday afternoon is gone, however. Even on weekends it’s not very busy in the new locations, such as the Yatai Xinyang market below the Science and Technology Museum in Pudong. Did people quietly decide to switch to real products, or is it just that they do not know how to find the new locations? Whatever the reason, it seems closing the market was a good way to fight pirated clothing, bags and watches.
And not only Shanghai, but also Beijing is doing something against fake clothing it seems. This time it’s not the government that removes a market or punishes traders, but the Intermediate People’s Court. According to the Shanghai Daily, this week The North Face won a trademark infringement lawsuit against the owner of the Silk Market (This place has an owner? I always assumed the building was owned by the government). But the damages awarded were not that impressive, just USD 5300. However, I think this ruling is significant because it shows China is starting to do something. It is actually already the second law suit that the Silk Market lost, because in September Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada won a joint lawsuit that awarded the companies about USD 2500 each. Is this the beginning of the end for fake clothes in China, or are these just exceptions to the rule that nobody really cares?