A Market of Cheap Chinese Clothing: Shopping Traps And Ways to Avoid Them

Cheap Chinese clothes are flooding our closets, local stores, and online retail space. Clothing, at ridiculously low prices, is tempting us to experiment and indulge. Websites’ stylish photos convince us that we, too, can look amazing in cheaper clothes. And one cannot help but wonder — what if I give it a try.

The illusion does not last long. As soon as an item arrives, the buyer starts to regret the purchase. Opening the package hits one with a strong chemical smell. Garment’s fit and design do not match the online photo. Stitching and material look cheap and unpolished. Mild anger and disappointment nudge one to throw the newly arrived item into the trash.

There is nothing wrong with shopping fast, cheap fashions, but one needs to be realistic and ready for the consequences. Initial low prices are tempting, but that is not the total cost. The full unspoken cost includes time and money spent returning, donating, or disposing of the new item. And the item leaves an environmental footprint.

The Birth of Chinese Cheap Fashion

Cheap Chinese clothing is nothing new in China, particularly in rural areas where incomes are low. As wealthy city dwellers were spending money on brand names, less fortunate rural folk was buying cheap unmarked garments directly from factories. (www.businessoffashion.com, Forget Luxury Cheap Clothes Mean Big Money In China)

Clothing’s mass production and people’s desire for new fashions created a unique niche market in rural China. As the number of clothing factories increased, so is the quantity of unsold items. Slowly shops, and later villages, started to appear around the factories selling unmarked goods.

Soon local shops extended their reach to an online presence as the internet became more accessible. Then, Taobao software came around. It simplified and streamlined the sale process reaching thousands of customers across China. Now the cheap merchandise could travel across the country to anyone willing to pay.

Cheap Clothing Reaches Beyond China

Thanks to the expanding e-commerce market and reasonable shipping costs, affordable Chinese clothing is now available outside of China.

Anyone can google “prom dresses” and instantly be overwhelmed by possibilities. Among hundreds of options, you will no doubt see websites that sell surprising cheap prom dresses. But do not be fooled by a price tag. If it is cheap, there must be a reason.

Keep in mind that an item’s low cost negatively correlates with its quality.

How Cheap Websites Attract Buyers

There are multiple reasons why people are drawn to shady cheap websites.


Very often, the low price is so desirable that it is hard to pass it up. On top of that, fake discounts showing that a price tag was cut in half attract attention.


Websites feature highly processed photos where models wear fabulous clothes. Garments are well-styled, appearing more expensive than they are.


Many of us like to get the latest trendy clothes, phones, etc. We are always on the lookout for the new IT thing, and the cheap fashions are here to grant every wish.

Cheap Items Come At A High Price

We might be enjoying the idea of getting an item for cheaper, but the low cost is not the full price we pay. When we shop cheap Chinese clothes, we end up paying much more.

We waste money.

Appealing low prices trick us into thinking we are saving money. But we do not. An item we buy, most of the time, turns out nothing like what we wanted. We try to like it but, in the end, we decide to return it.

What is the chance you will go forward with the return?

Slim to none.

Even if you have a real intention of going through with the return, the chances are high that a site does not accept returns. Or, if it does, the return window passed, or you cannot reach anyone to initiate the returns.

We waste time.

To deal with returns, we need time. We try to reach out to a brand or its customer service; we might call or write a few emails — all in vain. After a few attempts, we give up and decide to forget about the return.

We contribute to the environmental footprint.

If time and money were not enough, we are also responsible for the carbon footprint. Manufacturing, shipping, and then sending an item to a landfill adds to the already exacerbated problem of fast, disposable fashion.

How Not To Fall Into The Trap

As more and more of us shop online, it is essential not to get fooled by retailers. If you want to buy a cheap low-quality item, by all means, go ahead. I am in no place to judge you. But if you do not want to fall into the trap, here are few tips to keep in mind.

Research: Do some research about a brand and website. Read customers’ comments and product reviews. If you are lucky, you might encounter customer photos.

Read the fine print: Check out the return policy before you buy it. Very often, the return window is very small or nonexistent. And very often, you will be responsible for shipping fees.

And before clicking “complete your purchase,” I hope you think hard whether you genuinely need an item, regardless of its quality. It is essential to keep in mind that the ability to buy something does not mean that you have to.


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