Can't Be Cloned - For Now

Can't Be Cloned - For Now

 The Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once said "it doesn't matter what colour the cat, so long as it catches the rat" . I believe I had just altered the original quote to rhyme but I believe it makes it more catchy. 

Lately I have been inundated with messages from Chinese clone manufacturers and, curious, I decided to purchase some items which included a Richard Mille watch, a pair of shoes by Loro Piana and a pair of sunglasses by Chopard. I say these brands but they are of course counterfeit. 

The Chinese have made it near impossible for you to have anything to yourself these days. Items that might have you wait for 12 months from the original manufacturer, such as a Rolex watch, can be delivered to you in 14 days to a quality where only a professional watch maker will be able to decipher the difference. The Chinese cat has become very fat indeed, catching every rat. 

Why am I confessing this? Because it has so blurred the lines of what is real and what is not, that I fear soon that things we once held dear, things that we might have marked as inimitable, will no longer hold their currency. Thankfully, we are too small for the Chinese to copy. Further, I don't think they know how to make lovely knots of bow ties. A lack of mainstream interest in our product category and the fact that we have become so very niche means that in all likelihood, we can't be cloned. More importantly, our silks, which come from very refined looms that use very specific threads and weaving machines, adds to that likelihood.

But with each passing year the silk looms of Como shrink and consolidate, every passing year brings news of a closure that brings to an end the long lineage of a family that had dedicated itself to fine silks. 

As for the Chinese - I don't necessarily blame them. It is the customers who create the market for counterfeit products. They are merely cashing in on the fact that Bob wanted a Rolex and wasn't able to get one from the authorised dealer. Or Gary knew he could never afford a Patek Phillipe given his current salary. 

I have enjoyed wearing my clone watches. The Richard Mille one the most, because I can't believe that such an expensive watch can be cloned by the Chinese for such a tiny fraction of the RRP. Plus it is a very happy watch, it has a smiley face on it. 

But I would say this, it has questioned my integrity. Because for the last 16 years I have striven to deliver to my customers exactly what I say something is. Organzino warp silks, the best of the best in silk, cotton and cashmere. I have of course used Chinese manufacturing, for packaging, for my unique clips that we use. I have never begrudged the Chinese when it comes to commercial relationships, I just wanted to ensure that we made as much as we could in Australia. 

That being said, some of my favourite brands in ski wear, in fashion, in athletic wear - they are all made in China. And dealing with the Chinese has become as easy as dealing with my European counterparts. 

So where to from here? The short answer is, I don't know. We will continue to make here as long as we can, but the sun seems to be setting as our customers lack the same disposable income, as trends change, as social change brings aspects of our culture to an end, including, I might add, chivalry. 

Until then you have my number, and I will serve you. But don't be surprised if one day soon I throw in the towel and seek a new challenge. Until then, we believe, we can't be cloned. 

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