Chanel. Temple Street Markets. Louis Vuitton. Granville Road Markets. Gucci. Cheung Sha Wan Markets.
Chanel, LV and Gucci are all brands synonymous with a world of luxury, indulgence, and an air of eminence carried with the ownership of one of their goods. The high-class shopping precinct of Causeway Bay, lined with the glass revolving doors into Chanel and Coach, is a shimmering blur of high-end designer brands fuelled by consumerism.
In the midst of exploring Causeway Bay, I found a number of young girls carrying these iconic luxury brands with the designer logo stamped everywhere I went. Perhaps the aesthetic is driven by the younger generation’s desire to emulate their favourite celebrities, or imitate their favourite high-end designers. The storefronts of these luxury brands faced the street as an entrance to another world where you needed a secret password to enter.
The diverse contrast between shopping malls and the world-renowned street markets lining the streets of MongKok, or Temple Street, is an indication of the consumer driven society we live in. The ideal consumer for each of these shopping precincts differs in their purchase decision-making. The concept of a high-end designer brand is associated with another world of extravagance, an escape of luxury and an acknowledgement of social standing.
The experience of Hong Kong street markets is nothing like you’ve ever experienced before. After listening to a number of tourists and locals bartering for their fake luxury goods, I soon learned that patience was a vital ingredient in the recipe for street market success. One stall at a time, I perused the goods on offer, I chose my first target after spotting a black saffiano Prada wallet.
“You like?” The owner of the store walked toward me, shoving a calculator in my face, “Tell me your price.”
I wrote in my price, she refused quickly, and I abruptly decided to walk away from the stall.
“Ok, ok, ok, you get your price!” I hear the lady yell after me with a calculator in hand.
The street markets allow the low budget consumer (or poor uni student) to fuel this desire of association with high-end brands, without compromising price. The hustle and bustle of the Ladies’ Markets provide an experience in bartering, interacting with locals, and the adrenaline rush of a fantastic bargain. Be prepared to haggle your price, arm your wallet with a tight grip, and never surrender to less than $100 HK dollars for a fake luxury good (TOP TIP).
As a student, I devoured the opportunity for fake Mulberry and Louis Vuitton, all at our doorstep for a tiny fraction of the recommended retail price. I truly believe the street markets is part of the backbone of Hong Kong culture, trawling the markets where locals are selling their goods and immersing yourself in the busy chaos of Hong Kong life.
What does this mean for the reputation of luxury brands? Are they at risk of tarnishing their image with the threat of cheaper alternatives? I do believe the satisfaction of bargaining your own price with Hong Kong locals is addictive, and for me outweighs the morality of the high end vs. fake debate.t
As a consumer, you feel accomplished with your shopping experience as you exit the markets with a dozen purchases all for under $HK300 (about $A60). Personally, if the opportunity to feel associated within the luxury world of fine goods is cheaper than the alternate $A1000 minimum price tag the real deal offers, I’m all for the fake alternate.
The learning experience I observed from the world of street market bartering is that no matter how or where you purchase a branded product, the reputation of the brand itself outweighs the authenticity of the physical good.
It’s safe to say that I will continue faking it until I (hopefully) make it, and a big thank you to the Hong Kong street markets for uncovering my newfound love of bartering for my favourite brands!