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For some time I was involved in an online clothing business. The name of the game was volume. Clothing, accessory items and other fashion products were purchased usually in Cambodia and sold almost in an auction style, online, in another SE Asian country. Much of it was smuggled across in trucks through the jungle, or more commonly, right through customs after a bribe had been paid.


You might be tempted to ask if there were any counterfeit garments mixed in with the contents of these trucks. Unfortunately, Homey don't answer stupid questions. I remember once I had a big-name professional horse racing jockey for a friend. When I had gotten to know him very well I asked him if he ever saw any evidence of "fixing" in any horse race. He looked at me like I was a rank imbecile and I could see it was difficult for him to answer. I thought I had truly offended him and his honorable profession. When he finally did open his mouth he hissed out, "They're ALL rigged." Then he gave me a sideways, squinty kind of look as if to ask where was the Stupid Rock I had been living under all my life. I grew up a little in that moment.


The company would bring in truckloads of clothing of all types, mostly new but occasionally second hand, and a few Asian girls would set each item up in front of a green screen (chroma key) to be photographed. It was an assembly line of rabbits on crack. Almost before a garment had finished swinging I had snapped it, and it was unceremoniously JERKED from its hanger and the next one was stuck up there before the first one was even out of frame. I'd click again. And again. And again. And after several thousand clicks my brain would turn to mush and I'd sort of lose track of space and time and sometimes just click the shutter when there wasn't even anything on the hanger. The muscle memory in the shutter finger was so established that I clicked shutters in my sleep.


When a batch was completed or the SD card was full, the images were all downloaded to a computer to be processed (it should have been done in Lightroom in real time). They were batch-keyed from the chroma screens and resized and marked with a copyright, and some nice or exotic or romantic or scenic background was randomly slipped behind the keyed garment by the script, and the image was instantly sent on down the line for the ladies to post and start selling. Sometimes it was mere seconds between the snap and the posting online, and mere seconds again before the orders started rolling, and mere seconds again before the money started hitting their bank accounts (no credit cards here -- only straight-up bank transfers).


From the time a truck pulled up in back, and they attacked it like ravenous squirrels, to the time the girls started actually receiving funds in their bank accounts, might in the best case be no more than, say, seven minutes. Never more than an hour.


The price of a top might run about $1.50 retail (their wholesale price about $.25), and for a top and pants, maybe $3 retail. Purses as shown were roughly $2 retail, depending. They actually made money at this for a few years, but then everybody started trying to cash in on it, and of course the prices got lower and lower and lower until they were just working for fun, and NOT for profit. And that's the way it is today. Once again, unthinking, brainless, unregulated competition has killed an entire industry, just as it very often does around the world -- even in the US. I haven't been around this business for close to a decade now.


The ONLY people who can still make a slim profit today are those with actual, close inner-circle family in the garment business in China (which is where all the Cambodian goods came from because Cambodia is, in essence, China, with Thailand soon to follow.


Anyway, here's a handful of that assembly-line work product before it was keyed. These were scaled down to not much more than thumbnail sizes to go on Farcebook and whatnot. Just something to look at.