Bazaar

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It’s March now, and with my birthday approaching I decided to take advantage of living in China by getting fitted out for some bespoke clothing. You can have just about anything made to order here, of good quality and at ridiculously low prices. But let’s just say that it isn’t exactly a glamorous experience.

You see, in Shenzhen, it’s Knockoff Row, not Saville. The center of it all, Luohu Commercial City, is a bustling five story shopping center located above a bus terminal and beside the train station. Traveling there from where we live takes an hour or so on the subway (or a nauseating 45 minute cab ride). The heckling begins the moment we arrive.

“Copy watch copy handbag copy sunglasses?”

This is the mantra of Luohu. In the words of my friend Chad, who accompanied me this time around, the place is more a bazaar than it is a mall. The peddlers occupy tiny booths, and they claim to have access to anything you’re looking for. It’s no joke – they probably do. But the only goods here without fake logos are the ones that are custom made.

The tailors’ domain is all the way up on the fifth floor, so we must first pass through the gauntlet. Sneakers, electronics, watches, eyeglasses, purses. Along the way, we’re escorted by a chorus of people chanting,

“Copy watch copy handbag copy sunglasses?”

We are men on a mission, however. Walking stubbornly onwards, we eventually make it through the obstacle course, off the top-floor escalator, and to my tailor of choice. We show her photos of what we’d like to have made, select our fabrics, and each in turn have our measurements taken. Then, she names her price. We haggle extensively and inevitably threaten to walk away. Finally, a deal is reached.

On the trip back down, we can’t help but allow ourselves some minor detours. Now that our goal has been met with time to spare, it’s impossible to resist the siren’s call.

“Copy watch copy handbag copy sunglasses?”

And so it goes. I return home and excitedly show Wifey the leather swatch from the jacket that’s being made for me. Somewhat abashedly, I also display the knockoff Bose speaker that I caved for, as well as a pair of light up Lightning McQueen sneakers for Little Dude. The shoes even have a tag that reads, “Producto Original Disney. Con Luz!”

Because why not. This is China.