|Women buy jewellery from a Chinese vendor in Rawalpindi’s Raja Bazaar | Tanveer Shehzad, White Star|
At another shop, a woman is haggling over the price of what looks like a Versace handbag. She knows it is a copy – a good one though – and wants the shopkeeper to give her a hefty discount on it. “You are demanding a lot of money for a copy,” she politely reproaches the man at the counter who reminds her that it is a “first” copy and not just an “ordinary” bag. But then he agrees to give her a handsome discount.
Able to buy the copies of branded luxury goods, which look as good as originals, and at prices that are within the shopping budgets of most middle-class households across Pakistan, customers in the country have much to thank traders in China Market for. “The best thing about these goods is that our middle-class people can now afford to live in style,” says Noshad Sheikh who runs a shop at China Market. “[Shopkeepers selling these goods have] brought international brands within the reach of local customers who, otherwise, would see those brands only in movies and on television shows,” he says. “Of course, I am talking about copies and not the original products,” he adds with a smile.
This is an excerpt from the Herald August 2015 cover story, to read the complete story in print subscribe to Herald.