Thursday, March 29, 2007

Reason #64 of why I love Mongolia

Because the garbage trucks play the ice cream truck song to let you know that they're coming happily down the street and you should put your trash out.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Recently, one of my students was wearing a pair of jeans with the cuffs rolled up. On the underside of the fabric was the ubiquitous, double-linked Gucci G's. So, somewhat jokingly, I asked her if her jeans were really Gucci. It became clear that she didn't understand the question, and her English communication skills weren't the problem. So few brands in Mongolia are 'real' that the word ceases to have meaning here.

All of the DVD stores sell DVDs fake from China, all of the legit clothing stores sell fake Abercrombie clothes and fake Diesel jeans. There are no 'real' items here. Or maybe they're all real; who knows. I have an Abercrombie sweatshirt I got here that's exactly the same (as far as I can tell) as one they're selling on the Abercrombie website for around $150 dollars. Mine's made in Macau, and, conceivably, the real one's are too. After all, when these companies are having everything made in China, or wherever it's cheap in Asia, what's the difference between a real Abercrombie sweatshirt and a fake one?

I can't even imagine trying to explain to my student that people in America might pay over $1000 for jeans that look exactly the same as hers.

I was reading Harvard Business Review yesterday (I read anything I can get my hands on here) and it was talking about how much people trust the names of brands they know. The researchers discovered that if they put no name peanut butter in a brand name jar, it tasted better to the people in the experiment than it did in its own jar. This occurred in across the board experiments.

While I understand why companies are upset when counterfeit articles of their clothing pop up, no one in Mongolia can afford the real stuff. In my mind, companies should probably just consider these fakes as whetting the appetite of Mongolians for 10 years down the line, when the real stuff finally comes. Then Mongolians too can pay full price for the same clothing they've been getting all along.


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