Good experience with cheap menswear by buying from China or Korea?
November 21, 2012 8:03 AM   Subscribe

I've decided that I want to buy new, "smart" and/or "fashion-forward" clothes, and in my travels through sites like Pinterest I've discovered the phenomenon of the online Far-East retailer (sites like and Specifically for menswear, has anyone bought from places like this, and how have the results been? Buying a nice-looking coat for $22 plus shipping almost seems too good to be true, but I'm sure that's still profitable for the manufacturer and saves on all the uplift that gets added by the retail universe (and western world in general).
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
While I generally stick to buying accessories from Far East retailers, I'm prepared to have US Customs hold my purchases until I cough up duties, which can up the cost substantially. Shipping can take a while, sizing is also an issue, and returns or exchanges more trouble than they're worth.

Uniqlo's set to open up online shopping for the US soon, so you should definitely keep an eye on that.
posted by evoque at 8:27 AM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

$22 bucks is less than quality woolen cloth for a coat costs.
posted by JPD at 8:37 AM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Uniqlo's set to open up online shopping for the US soon, so you should definitely keep an eye on that.

Pretty sure the online shop is now open! Go crazy!
posted by Arbac at 8:53 AM on November 21, 2012

Love the stuff at Uniqlo, but I live in Soviet Canuckistan (aka Canada) and they don't ship direct... will dig around to see if there are some ways to get around that particular challenge though.
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button at 9:19 AM on November 21, 2012

Suddenlee will shop most stores and ship it to you. They used to have Uniqlo listed on the site but not anymore. You may still be in luck though according to this post:

Finally, as to why Suddenlee doesn’t list Uniqlo as one of the stores they service, it’s because they don’t officially service Uniqlo. However, since they’re a general proxy shopping service, they’ll shop anywhere in NYC for you, and that includes Uniqlo.

posted by halseyaa at 9:26 AM on November 21, 2012

Seconding JPD. This is indeed too good to be true. Even if they get heavy discounts on their fabric, it is simply not feasible if one of your priorities is fair wages and fair treatment of workers.

I made an unlined wool cape from an "easy" pattern not too long ago, and used wool that was on end-of-the-bolt super-sale, priced less than what the direct-from-supplier store had paid for it: three metres cost me 15 euros. That's not counting shipping, that's just the fabric, and again, it was unlined, meaning there was no cost for lining fabric. It was easy, I'm an experienced seamstress, and it still took me a few hours to sew. 7 euros would not be a fair wage for more than three hours of work in pretty much any country in the world. And that gets us to the sale price of your coat, which is more than what they actually paid for it.

If you'd like more detail, I've put this in small text because it's a self-link, but a year ago I went into great detail about how a 40-euro lined jacket was unrealistically priced. Meaning too low to be fair.
posted by fraula at 10:14 AM on November 21, 2012 [8 favorites]

Go to Forever21 or H&M and check out the quality of their clothes. If you're comfortable with that level of quality, you may be happy with a $22 coat.
posted by twisted mister at 11:00 AM on November 21, 2012

I have bought a few coats directly from China, and I am thrilled with all three; looking for best-of-China found stuff far above mall quality -- but these were in the $150-$200 range. Nth the idea that there is not a $22 coat, at least not one one should willingly wear... It won't look fashion-forward in person. Check out your local thrift stores to see what happens to disposable clothes in not too many wears (keeping in mind that it will be the better stuff, much of it having gone straight to the landfill).

That said, "" is a pretty rich source of designer ripoff whatnot and if you up your price range you should find something nice.

(FWIW, my experience with this sort of purchasing has been that no matter what I've bought, it arrived marked "clothing -- gift -- $20" on the customs chit)
posted by kmennie at 11:23 AM on November 21, 2012

These three guys ( 1, 2, 3) seem happy enough with their Lees Shop purchases, though the last one took his vest to a tailor. Not sure about the two shops you mentioned, specifically, but I do know that many of the Chinese shops recycle the same catalogue photos while stocking items that only resemble those photos.
posted by paperback version at 12:00 PM on November 21, 2012

If you are okay with disposable pieces and can go into your purchase knowing that you won't wear the item more than a handful of times, go for it!

Don't build your wardrobe around clothes like this: add them on to an already solid wardrobe for fun/trendy flourishes. Keep in mind these clothes will look good for ~15 to 20 wear/washes and then begin to fall apart and look shoddy, misshapen and dull.

For instance, varsity jackets are a trendy #menswear item right now and are a safe bet from one of these sites. But if you're looking for a well-made winter jacket that will last you more than a year, better look elsewhere.
posted by moons in june at 5:47 PM on November 21, 2012

I don't know if I would buy such a cheap coat because so many things can go wrong compared to say, a t shirt, when it comes to fit. A coat can become a waste if there's not enough room in the back or the sleeves are a hair short, etc.
posted by p1nkdaisy at 2:14 AM on November 23, 2012

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