FRIDAY, March 01, 2024

Printed pants: the ‘elephant’ in the room

Printed pants: the ‘elephant’ in the room

Trousers with traditional Thai elephant patterns, an iconic souvenir from Thailand, have become increasingly popular among foreign visitors and inevitably caught the eyes of online wholesalers/retailers who see the baggy pants as a sweet business opportunity.

The Nation recently surveyed popular e-commerce platforms with the search term “elephant pants Thailand” and found several listings from sellers along with various shipping sources, signifying heated competition to sell this popular product.

Western-based platforms like eBay and Amazon listed retail prices of elephant pants from 400 to 900 baht or higher, with most of the sellers advertising that they are products from Thailand.

Elephant pants on eBay and Amazon often have no restrictions regarding minimum orders.

Meanwhile, Asia-based Alibaba listed significantly cheaper prices for the trousers, from less than a US dollar (35.8 baht) to 4$ (143.4 baht). Retailers on this platform stated that they are shipped from either Thailand, India or China.

Cheaper pants on Alibaba tend to require a bulk buy, from a minimum of 2 to 100 pairs.

But while elephant pants from China and India offer more variety in terms of size, colour and pattern, the portraits of the elephants are different from the classic, original pattern of Thai manufacturers.

A seller on Amazon sells elephant pants under the name ‘Bangkok Pants’, with a description that indicates they are ‘suitable for yoga’ at $19.95 (715.4 baht), with free shipping. The Bangkok Pants were apparently highly popular among female customers practising yoga, who have bought over 300 items in the past month, according to the seller.

“Advertising the pants as a product from Thailand will increase the selling point and therefore the price, as Thai products are more attractive than those from China,” a Thai clothes wholesaler told the Nation.

“The price-cutting war is becoming fiercer for elephant pants, prompting manufacturers to improve their product quality and sellers to offer other perks, like free delivery,” she added.

Last week, Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai instructed the Customs Department to come up with measures to stem the influx of cheap trousers with traditional Thai cat and elephant patterns, which are part of the government’s “Thai soft power” campaign.

The minister said the copied versions of the cat and elephant trousers from China did not sport the exact copyrighted pattern and were of far inferior quality.