Article > Opinion

Don’t Judge Luggage by its Tag

By Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips

I am a self-professed luggage addict. I love any piece of well-made, sturdy luggage that I can throw things into and take off on a weekend trip with my family. In fact, for nearly every special occasion over the past two years or so, my wife has helped feed my addiction by buying me what I consider to be the creme de la creme of luggage, Briggs & Riley. It’s not the most expensive stuff out there, mind you, but in my humble opinion, it’s the best. One reason: If a brute from one of the airlines decides to toss my bag off a 747 onto the tarmac and it breaks, the company will give me a new one. Their bags have all the pockets and bells and whistles anyone could ask for.

Like most anything I buy, I like to take a look at the tag to find out where it’s made. What I found out surprised me, at least at first. The bags are made in China. It’s an American company, based in New York state, but like many companies these days, their product is sourced from China. I made my discovery a few years back and it altered my perception of “Made in China.” I came to the realization that it doesn’t matter where a product is produced. What really matters is how stringent the company that outsources the product chooses to be. These bags have developed a sort of cult following since their introduction about 15 years ago. They’re prized for their styling, durability, selection and bulletproof warranty. If the company didn’t have such exacting standards and took anything that Chinese factories produced, they wouldn’t be in demand.

There’s ample evidence behind my long-held, but now dispelled, impression that all Chinese products are subpar. Just recently, China’s own quality assurance administration declared that nearly a fifth of the food and goods produced by the country are substandard or tainted, the International Herald-Tribune reported. With statistics like that and numerous news stories about tainted food coming from China, it’s easy to see how the U.S. population could absorb a negative view of the country’s manufacturing ability. And the country’s historical disregard for intellectual property rights has only fueled an undercurrent of disdain.

With China’s burgeoning numbers of car buyers, the country will eclipse the United States as the largest automotive market by 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Growth in parts imports has been staggering. From 2006 to 2007 alone, the amount of automotive parts exported from China to the U.S. increased 23 percent to $8.5 billion. Clearly, the country is a force to be reckoned with. In the perfect world, a company’s products would only sell if they’re good. But a proliferation of cheap products throughout the world in many industries has increased the pressure to keep prices low, low, low. As with anything in this world, you really get what you pay for.

I know my favorite luggage, even though it’s produced in China, is the very best. As the old adage goes, the proof is in the pudding. Or the luggage.

  Previous Comments
avatar   Admiral Akbar   star   1/21/2010   10:23 AM

It's a trap!!!

avatar   Wedge Antilles   star   1/11/2010   6:23 PM

Years ago, a Ford exec took Walter P. Reuther, former head of the UAW, on a tour of a Ford plant. The Ford exec bragged about how many jobs a newly purchased machine had replaced. In response, Reuther said, "How many Ford cars will this machine buy?"

avatar   Scott   star   11/18/2009   10:19 AM

I'm sorry but until the U.S. can make a tv as big & good as my 73" DLP 1080p Toshiba I'll just have to keep buying foreign. But I do own a Xbox360 which is suppose to be an american product, so hopefully it balances out somewhere!

avatar   Jody Ard   star   8/10/2009   3:49 PM

I agree 100%. China has become a huge power house, because its citizens are willing to work for little to nothing. People here don't even want to work for minimum wage. Until, americans are willing to work and not be government supported its going to be along time before we our factories are running at full speed. When I started in the parts business some 25 yrs ago, I started at the bottom making about 4.50 an hour. I was happy to work a full day and earned every raise I got. We try to hire young people today and they want to start at the top. Its hard to make enough profit when folks aren't willing to work their way up. Running a successful business takes dedicated and harding working people....those people are hard to find, and I find it keeps getting harder and harder. My biggest fear is we'll eventually be dependent on the forgein nations for manufactured goods....I wonder?

avatar   Wolfe   star   7/25/2009   4:37 PM

I love buying American Made. Period. But am I going to sell my Wii because it is made in Japan? "H*** no," comes to mind. Buying an American car seems to be the big hot button. Yes, it does influence the economy, but you also have to remember that the same people who will complain about Honda and Toyota owners, will buy a Toshiba and Hitachi television and think nothing of it. Why? Because it doesn't cost as much as a car. But you also have to remember that while it may not cost the same amount, people buy more televisions than they do cars. So that difference is made up quicker than quick. If you are going to complain about not buying American, you better do some more research than just reading that bumper sticker.

avatar   IDC   star   5/20/2009   7:04 PM

I agree with Phillips, its not where the product is made, its the standards between the country and company. Of course the company has to follow laws and whatnot, but child labor, or cheap labor doesn't mean the product is cheap, it just means the company is dodging min. wage laws, not technically standards. However, jobs help the economy so outsourcing all of our work to other countries save money for the companies in the short-term, it will though, put a stress on our economy in the long-term. No jobs, no money, no purchases, no economy. Americans, i believe, wouldn't want to pay the amount for clothing/parts/appliances if everything was still made in America. People complain about outsourcing, but those same people continue to shop at Wal-Mart.. What can you do?

avatar   Allen Nail   star   2/18/2009   8:14 PM

People will continue to complain that "things just aren't American made anymore", but the argument, in my eyes, is beginning to lose ground. It's not that our nation is being taken over by Asian countries. We're sending the dirty work to them. And if they can get the job done in a timely fashion, for a cheaper price, larger businesses will continue to ship out, then bring back in to sell. That's smart business. Yes, that takes away jobs. And yes, that gives the citizens of China "our" money, but can you blame the US companies? Everyone is trying to just stay afloat right now, any way possible.

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