Black Market Blue Jeans

Black Market Blue Jeans

The Russian Market is truly a SWEAT shop – all of the shoppers are dripping in sweat. But it would take a lot more than a little heat to scare them away from the $5 Levi’s or the $3 GAP polo shirts.

The place is a labyrinth of crafts, junk, bikes, fruits and veggies, restaurants (I love me the fried bananas), and clothing shops. Two average-sized foreigners can’t pass each other in the narrow walkways without getting “friendly.” Clothes are piled on tables and hung from the walls and ceiling, hiding the actual structure of the building. The shopkeepers, like ET among the stuffed animals, can be seen if you look real close.

Entering is the shopping equivalent of being blind-folded and spun around. When I exited the only directions I knew were up and down.

I bought two shirts – one Old navy, and one GAP – for $6. Total. I probably could have gotten them for $2/shirt.

A few days later I wore the GAP shirt to my meeting with the Levi’s Country Manager. The Russian Market came up.

Me: “My shirt is from the GAP. I bought it at the Russian Market.”

Country Manager: “Everything there is stolen goods from the factories. There’s nothing we can do about it. No laws in place to stop the sales. Levi’s doesn’t have a market in Cambodia so at least we are not competing with our stolen products. It’s more of an annoyance than anything.”

KT: “I thought the products there were all overruns or flaws.”

CM: “Brand names don’t sell off their overruns. We have our own way of taking care of them. In fact, some companies who were short on their count have gone to the Russian Market to buy their own products back to meet a deadline.”

Black Market Blue Jeans – just another facet in the crazy world of the garment industry.

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