Nothing screams “I’ve been backpacking in Thailand” quite like a pair of elephant pants. Except now, it seems those elephant-patterned trousers so beloved of young (and not so young) travellers are not that Thai after all. In fact, it turns out most of them are made in China. Gasp!
Thailand is now taking steps to protect its elephant pants, which are being mass produced – a lot more cheaply – in China. Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai says the famous elephant pattern is now protected under copyright and he has instructed the Customs Department to ban imports of elephant pants from China.
Meanwhile, the Department of Intellectual Property is investigating any potential imports from China that need to be halted.
It all kicked off (as these things often do) on social media, when the Facebook page Lui Chine, with 1.4 million followers, pointed out that elephant pants made in China were available online for ten times less than the price in Thailand.
It’s understood that on Chinese shopping sites, the pants cost just 30 baht a pair wholesale. The Facebook page says some Thai vendors have imported elephant pants from China, with prices starting at 65 baht for shorts and 75 baht for longer pants. The post says Thai manufacturers are losing out to Chinese competition because they can’t compete on price.
“(Thai manufacturers) will lose out (to the Chinese) in every way. They need to fight back by highlighting the quality of the pants as the main selling point.”
The page has urged the government to apply the Thai Select certification for standardised manufacturing quality to elephant pants, which Phumtham has agreed to, according to a Bangkok Post report.
Thai PM Srettha Thavisin has also stated that the issue with elephant pants being mass produced in China serves as a reminder that copyright issues and marketing appropriation need to be dealt with.
“Small matters like the (Chinese-made) elephant pants reflect a lot on how we need to be quicker working on the nation’s protection efforts.”
SOURCE: Bangkok Post