When we walked around the town of Sapa, Vietnam, we noticed something that our Australian friends Dave and Anna mentioned the day before, there were many stores in Sapa where you could get trekking / outdoor gears in case you need them. The interesting part was that you would see displays of gears — jackets, hats, pants, shoes, sandals, etc. — that looked very much like what you would find in a sporting goods store, except that the price was significantly lower than what you would find in the United States or Australia.
There were items we saw that looked suspiciously like counterfeits (like sandals that looked like Keen sandals but if you observe closely you see that the brand was actually 3.ten (but shaped like Keen logo). But there are also jackets that looked like legitimate North Face or Columbia gears but at much lower price than what out would expect.
This reminded me to going to ‘factory outlets’ in Indonesia where you could find brand name clothes for cheaper price. What I learned in Indonesia was that those items sold there were typically coming from the same manufacturers who produced the real thing for the actual well-known brands, but some of those merchandise might have small defects that didn’t pass the inspection for export, but to regular consumers who are price sensitive, that would be good enough compromise to make. Compare that to going to a store in the United States to purchase the gear that is guaranteed to be authentic from the chosen brand name, but when you looked at the tag you find that it was made in Vietnam or Indonesia. Or even worse, going to an upscale company store in Jakarta, Indonesia, to purchase clothes that were imported from the United States but prior to that it was exported from a developing country. So you may end up paying the markup due to the exports, when you could get the same thing at much lower price if you know where to look. In the end, it comes down to how much you care for the brand name and the quality of the product, and how much you’re willing to pay for that.
The photo below was taken as we perused the merchandise at one of the stores. Notice the merchandise on display that looked like the real deal (or they could probably be, we just didn’t know).