Thursday, March 8, 2012

Vietnam - The North Face bags - authentic or not?

We have known that The North Face (TNF) bags are being produced in Vietnam. In fact, I know someone selling TNF bag for 2k pesos in Philippines; he used to source his TNF bags from Vietnam. I can't confirm whether the bags are authentic or not for I haven't seen his wares until now. Besides, 2k pesos is quite a steep price for a backpack. I am happy with my durable Hawk backpack. I bought it few years back for slightly more than a thousand pesos. In addition, I am not a TNF fanboy until I saw how good were TNF bags design.

I haven't bought any TNF bag yet until I set foot at Ho Chi Minh city. My son asked me to buy one backpack for him. He specifically asked me to buy TNF HOT SHOT back pack.

Saigon Square
Initially, my wife and I planned to scout Ben Thanh market the next day for TNF bags and pants. However, we were invited for dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant courtesy of our college classmate who is based in Ho Chi Minh city with her family. Upon learning that we were planning to buy several TNF backpacks she advised us to buy instead at Saigon Square, just 2 blocks away from Ben Thanh market.

one of the shops inside SS

Due to limited time, we raced down to Saigon Square the next day. Our classmate was correct, many TNF bags were in display at different stalls. Even so, we didn't know which bags were authentic or not. Luckily, my wife did some research on the net the day before and told me that we should check 3 things on a TNF bag. First was the whistle then the hologram and finally the orange thread. Armed with this information we searched around for authentic TNF bags. We saw several shoppers queuing in one shop selling TNF bags; among the shoppers were some "kabayans." Hence, we decided to purchase from that shop also.


We asked the lady how we could know that the TNF bags she was selling was imitation or not. She took one of the TNF bags displayed inside her shop and gave it to us. That bag was fake according to her. We inspected the bag and we agreed with her. No whistle, no hologram and the texture of the bag was rough compared with the TNF bags she was selling to us. To add, the price was way cheaper. So we bought the 3 bags which she told as authentic TNF.

Surge = 550k Dong, Amira = 380k Dong and Hot Shot = 500 Dong

I had no idea whether we were ripped-off or not. After comparing the price with our local Hawk bags,  TNF price was competitive. The quality seemed OK. Moreover, my wife searched the net and found the design and color of the three bags we bought were the same as shown on TNF website. Because of this, the following day we bought another TNF bag from the same shop at Saigon Square.

Borealis = 350k Dong

My high school son was very happy for his HOT SHOT bag. In my case, I send back my old and worn-out Hawk backpack to Manila and started to use TNF SURGE bag on my trip to Cambodia and Thailand. The other 2 TNF bags were bought by my brother-in-law.

Considering the price, quality and design, imitation or not, I am happy with my new TNF bag. However, until now I can't avoid that feeling that maybe we had bought fake TNF bags. Just imagine a TNF bag worth around a thousand pesos. What do you think?

250k Dong
By the way, here is a picture of a Kipling bag bought by my wife. The lady confirmed to us that this bag was a first class imitation and some of our "kabayans" were her regular buyers. Additionally, we bought two TNF cargo pants also. I love it. It was trendy, comfy for traveling and no need to press; just wash and wear.

1 USD  = 20k Dong (approximately)