“Excuse me, can I have your sweater?”

It’s well documented that fashion isn’t my strength… to put it lightly. So that’s why I found what happened this morning to be especially bizarre.

I was having breakfast in the club lounge at the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong, and was going to the buffet to get some food. Suddenly I’m stopped by a guy sitting near the buffet – “excuse me,” he said.

I figured it was a blog reader. There are certain places I almost always run into a reader – the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, the Thai First Class Lounge in Bangkok, and often even random hotel club lounges. But that wasn’t the case this time.

The guy says “I’m a fashion designer and I really like your sweater. Can I have it?” Huh?

I looked at him perplexed, and he continued with “I’ll buy it from you, just tell me what you want.” I wasn’t sure what to say, though responded with “I’m sorry but I’m not really looking to sell it.”

He then whipped out his camera and said “can I get a picture at least?” I agreed, so he took a picture of my sweater. He then said “the lighting wasn’t very good, can we go over to the window so I can take another picture?” I agreed, still running through my head all the possible angles on what he could be doing.

He then said “how about I buy it from you? How about 300 HKD?” That’s less than I paid for the sweater, and I explained again that I really wasn’t looking to sell it. I mentioned I bought it at Nordstrom, and he said “oh, I design stuff for them.” I then asked him if he just wanted to know the brand/type of sweater, but he responded with “I won’t be home for a few weeks so that won’t be of any use to me. I need the sweater now.” I asked him to let me think about it (think about devising a plan to get the hell outta there, that is), and continued with my breakfast.

As I finished my breakfast and got ready to leave I found that he had switched tables, and was now sitting immediately behind me. “How about 1,000 HKD?” I said “this is the only sweater I have with me on this trip.” He responded with “well you’re in Asia, it’s warm.” I said “yes, but I’m flying back to the US.” He continued with “well I have lots of sweaters in my room, you can pick one out and take it with you.” I sure as hell wasn’t about to go to his room.

I paused, and then he suggested that I at least go to the lobby with him so he could make a color photo copy of my sweater. How the hell do you make a photo copy of a sweater?!

Anyway, it seemed like there was no way out, so I agreed to 1,000 HKD in exchange for my sweater.

Below is a picture, so you guys let me know if he was being a total creep and had some weird fetish I don’t even want to think about, or if he was just a really, really pushy designer?

I guess in the end I made some money on an old sweater, so it’s not all bad, right? Could this be a new way to fund my trips? Buy the latest fashions and turn them for a profit in club lounges? 😉

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. I’m inclined to agree with Marz but it is a fairly fashionable sweater, with the front kangaroo thing going on, so maybe it was legit. Why does he have so many sweaters in his room? I wish a designer would weigh in to see if this is typical behavior.

  2. Lucky,

    Do you happen to have a reader get-together in HK?

    I am a loyal reader of your blog and happen to be in HK today and tomorrow.

    Best,

  3. I agree with Jetaway- I think he was hoping to get you back to his room and help you take off your sweater. This is so bizarre, you couldn’t make it up. Stranger danger- don’t accept rides or take candy from strangers.

  4. From a gay perspective: He’s hitting on you and hoping that he could allure you to his room and seduce you.

  5. Fetish indeed! My stars!

    Change of topic – have you seen Delta’s new website that they surprised us with over the weekend?

  6. I’d have pulled out my iPhone and started playing that Weezer song “If you want to destroy my sweater…” and then walked out!

  7. I have to agree with @marZ. Very odd. No offense Ben, but that sweater isn’t worth $129.

    Hope you are having a great trip though.

  8. Perhaps buy your sweater for 1000HKD.. and “copy” it and mass produce to sell each piece for 500HKD each…or.. just agree with @Jetaway’s theory

  9. Ok. That was way creepier than I first imagined it to be. I’d be very suspicious of anyone doing that *anywhere*, not just in a large city. Nonetheless, I hope you profited from this transaction.

    Doubt the bill is fake. Counterfeits aren’t horribly prevalent in HK.

    But I do quite like the sweater….

  10. LOL… I just forwarded your post to my personal shopper at Nordstrom with the message, “I want this sweater!” :-)

  11. Well, HKG is the place they make most of the fake designers items (you can find those online). He probably is in that business and had sharp eyes and spotted your sweater as something they would like to make fake ones. It was probably cheaper for him to buy from you than finding, and then ordering from USA.

  12. Are you still at the same hotel? Any chance you see him again? Then go up to him and say something like “Hi. I’ve just got to ask about that sweater thing this morning. Can you fill me in with the details? Since it’s already in production through Nordstrom and you could probably see details online, what was so urgent about buying it?”

    I agree, odd moments like this leave you flustered and confused.

    If you don’t ever see him again take this as a lesson to think next time when caught off guard in a strange situation. If possible take control of your response by asking for time to think (which you did) and then if you want to know more, be kindly blunt and ask for more details. Put the burden back on the person approaching you. i.e., “I’m sure you’ll agree, what you’re asking is rather odd. Can you tell me more why it’s so important to buy this sweater at this time?” If the person approaching you can’t or won’t give you more info then the case is closed.

  13. @ JohnBom — I haven’t, guess I should check. Somehow I have a hard time believing someone in a reasonably nice hotel club lounge is trying to buy clothes with counterfeit money. Seems more likely to just be someone really, really creepy.

    @ Theo — Sadly I was just there for a quick overnight. I’m already back home now. Hope to meet you somewhere else along the way sometime!

    @ Phil S — I have briefly. Lipstick?

  14. @ Pablo — Nope, white guy from Canada.

    @ Toby — Let me check. Oh, wait. 😉

    @ gardengirl — Already back home, but agree with you.

  15. Hey Lucky, so in my line of work as the wife of a clothing manufacturer/designer, this actually isn’t too bizarre! My husband has stalked people at stores if he likes what they’re wearing to get a better look, and he constantly asks people where they bought an item or what brand it is. He has actually taken a shirt from a few people (thankfully not strangers, just his friends) in exchange for a new shirt from his company. He literally came home one time with a dirty shirt off a friend’s back from a trade show. It’s just that you never know where you might find inspiration, and if you love it you really can’t let you go! That designer could make 10X, 50X or more of what he paid for your sweater if the buyers at a place like Nordstrom like it. Obviously he can’t make the exact same sweater, he would have to tweak it. Conclusion- you should have asked for more $$ and at least 2 sweaters from his selection, I bet they were just samples.

  16. Hi Lucky – long time reader, 1st time commenter. :)

    I’m actually a fashion designer myself for a big company, and this sounds totally legit to me (Albeit he did sound a bit pushy). He was probably is Asia visiting factories and trend shopping the market. It’s always best to have the actual inspiration sample to take to a factory so they can try and copy/achieve whatever it is he liked- pictures are hard to work off of sometimes! …and YES you can photocopy garments. It can bring out a more detailed image. I can’t tell you how much of my day is spent fighting with a xerox printer….

    With all that said- he sounds like the real deal, and not some creepy scam artist.

    I think you made the best choice by taking the money, but agree with Jialing above that you should have asked for even more, and taken some of his sweaters too!! :)

  17. My three cents:

    1) I saw In the old days, my comment would have been “I bet there is no film in that camera”. Too many true stories with that as the end note.

    2) There is always a way out. Practice saying “No thank-you. Please leave me alone” to your family. If you can say it to your mother, you’ll be able to say it to creeps easily.

    3) You left money on the table. Your underwear would have went for 10,000 HKD.

  18. Was curious to know what this sweater looked like so glad you shared a photo!

    What’s next? Someone buying the jeans you’re wearing?

  19. Why are “creep” and “fashion designer” necessarily mutually exclusive? It could have been a creepy fashion designer who wanted to seduce Ben AND copy his sweater to sell back to Nordstrom! Two birds with one stone!

  20. @Puck — that is HILARIOUS. Though it could be a little creepy that YOU remember what Ben was wearing.

    OTOH, I might give 1000 HK to never see that goofy red t-shirt again…..

  21. It’s an interesting post. I think you’re lucky to make money out of the sales. Just spend the money and stop imagine what the buyer is going to do with that sweater 😉

  22. ROFL Frank!

    Designers do this all the time especially fashion. They target certain hotels during fashion week, first class lounge we have seen this. Gift/Homewares can turn around an item in days and be in opposition to your product in 7 days and oh it’s cheaper. Don’t see it as much due to idiot websites like Pintrest. I know of one SE Asia markey where they advertise “as seen on Etsy” etc..

    Best post in a long time!!! and your readers think so as well.

    Take care.

  23. @hobo13 Actually did not remember what Ben or anyone else for that matter was wearing in Chicago. Comment #60 from @PatMike mentioned he wore the sweater in Chicago which reminded me milevalue had a post with pictures of himself with lots of bloggers from the Chicago seminar. When I checked it out, the sweater was a match.

  24. The guy was probably just a buyer and wanted to show his vendor the style he’s looking for.

    Not really sure why everyone jumps to “fakes”. It’s a nice sweater, but it’s not the first time that style was made.

  25. Not to sound too disrespectful, but it’s not a very… unique sweater is it. I suspect he had ulterior motives – why do you seem to attract these people?!

  26. I actually had this happened to me a high end hotel in South America. When I was checking in, the guy said, “I like your jeans, can I buy them from you”? I said they were one of my favorite pairs, but decided to sell at $40 profit. He also upgraded me to a Junior Suite for the week I stayed there!

  27. Is that the same sweater you were wearing at the SFO dinner? Gosh, it’s probably a good idea to mix your wardrobe up a bit.

  28. It’s a pickup line but usually I was asked for my shoes, admittedly some of my shoes back in the day were pretty out there…I have to admit, that there are actually people in this thread who think the pushy horndog was a designer, makes me smile.

  29. you should have gone to his room to check out if he actually had the variety of sweaters he was talking about 😛

  30. I bet that dude was totally hitting on you and wanted to get you into his room.

    But cool sweater, I love how everyone is saying they’ve seen you with that sweater before.

  31. Just watch CSI a few times and you’ll never leave anything behind! That sweater is going to be wrapped around a dead hooker and you are the MAIN SUSPECT!!!!

  32. Perhaps he was on a Project Runway type show… there was an episode of PR where the designers needed to buy clothes off people in Central Park and turn them into a new design!

  33. @ Pablo – good lord it’s just a white guy! not a creepy Asian from HK.

    @ lucky – I would not be surprised if lots of your readers were initially attracted to this blog by your Twitter picture… Take it as a compliment!

  34. Funny story. Weird stuff does happen in the region! But it was a cool sweater. The Gap, really?

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