I just got back from a 13-hour flight and three-hour layover in Los Angeles from Shanghai, China. My family and I stayed at the Regalia Hotel. An apartment-style living accommodation with two bedrooms, tons of closet space, two baths, a living room, an office area, dining room, full kitchen with a microwave, as well as a washer and dryer.
While visiting for nine days, my business associate and personal Chinese guide took us to a fabric manufacturing plant, a sweater factory and a special market area, dedicated to making what they call "replicas." We call them "knock-offs."
China's replica business is a multi-million-dollar industry. A quality Gucci handbag replica, for example, could cost between $200 and $300 Yuan or $45 in U.S. currency. They make replicas of everything from faux diamond watches to high-end shoes. The value of a dollar was up during our visit, so we enjoyed lots of shopping. I bought quality replicas for my friends and family, who appreciate the cost difference and the fact that they look amazing!
While in Shanghai, I was treated to an elaborate lunch before visiting a five-story, fabric manufacturing plant, called Ren Ren Le. In this building was everything needed to manufacture a clothing line from sample to shipment. Before you visit the five floors you are required to put plastic shoe covers on. It was impeccably clean, organized and efficient. I was shown the steps to creating a clothing line, that included; weaving the fabric, coloring the fabric, making the patterns, making the samples, cutting the garments in stacks of 50 at a time, sewing, inspecting, ironing, pricing, packaging and finally shipping out finished products. We saw hundreds of garments being made for clients like Sears, Ross and Hello Kitty.
It was amazing to see a garment come to fruition from the cutting-room floor to the hanger. Our hosts were so hospitable, gracious and extremely professional. I also got to shop for fabrics for my own sample house here in Ahwatukee, as well as develop a relationship for manufacturing my daughter's clothing line. Relationships are a high priority in China so it was imperative that we meet them in person. It was worth the flights.
• ON Fashion lives in Ahwatukee Foothills, is married with two children, has modeled since age 10 and was a runway model for more than 15 years. She owns two businesses, is a seamstress, fashion designer and world traveler. Her fashion column appears in the AFN. Email questions to Onfashion@onfashion.biz.