Who am I to judge? Yet, judge I will, as I have often thought about the battle between what is socially and environmentally moral versus getting “stuff” at a discounted price. Not everything is so black and white, and oftentimes in life we are forced to make decisions that we might not agree with, but for us they are in our best interest. It is very easy to sit back and judge based on what we think we would do, but I ask you to be open-minded for just a bit.
This fall my indoor football (soccer) team decided to order some professional jerseys. While we don’t have the skill of pro players, we thought that at least we could look the part. We wanted to buy some replica jerseys to save some money, but were dismayed at the cost – the cheapest I could find for an “official” replica was $60/shirt.
Based on the recommendations of some articles on my favourite message board, I looked into some “off-shore” businesses who promised to sell for much cheaper – and that couldn’t be more true. I already own an England kit I bought two years ago from BigBoxStore.com (the name has since changed), and paid only $18 total. The quality wasn’t great, but I guess you get what you pay for…usually.
I looked at a few sites, all of which were a fraction of the cost of the “official ones”, and settled on soccersoccersoccer.com (no, I don’t work for them). Their cost was around $20 Canadian, but not just for a jersey, for an entire kit! I ordered nine kits, each for under $30 after taxes and shipping, and was told the delivery would likely be 5-10 days.
The company provided me with a tracking number four days later, and my item was shipped from China. I followed along, and it took a total of five business days in transit, plus the four days in processing, for a combined nine days from start to finish. Not too bad, but what about quality?
The items came in a thick envelope that was sealed with a plastic coating. I removed the items, which were a little wrinkled from being squeezed so tightly in the packaging.
I was pleased that each jersey was separately packaged in a ziplock-style bag. I put them all together and was excited to dive right in. I ordered two kits for myself – a #10 Jack Wilshere and #9 Lukas Podolski. As I plan on wearing the Podolski jersey during my games, I decided to take that one out first.
As I mentioned, I own half a dozen kits, some of which are “official” replicas, and others are cheap knock-offs. This kit was very, very high quality. I was very happy to feel the material was not some cheap polyester that would be bound to fall apart in the wash. Instead, it was every bit as thick and felt just as durable as the $100 Arsenal jersey I bought straight from London.
I was wondering if the other kits in our lot would be equally as high quality, so I took out a second kit – a #7 Cantona Manchester United kit. As you can see, the jerseys all came with very real-looking Nike or Adidas tags, unlike on other knock-offs I’ve purchased. They also have the BPL logo on the shoulders, but they aren’t screened on, rather, they are patches! That was certainly not the case in my other jerseys, including the official replica. Finally, the jerseys inside and outside collar match the real thing exactly!
So, in retrospect, we ended up paying just under $30 for each kit, and for me they were worth every penny. The jerseys and shorts were of excellent quality. The attention to detail is spot-on, as I have compared these to pictures of the authentic ones. In dealing with soccersoccersoccer.com I can say I was pleased with the time for delivery, especially when considering that I ordered during one of their national holidays.
Look, I am not always in favour of the “cheapest is best” mentality, and I hate sounding (or being) hypocritical, but in this case our decision paid off. For my knock-offs I ordered in the past from other off-shore websites I must say I am disappointed both in their quality and in the fact that I bought a far inferior product just to save a few bucks, not to mention the moral and environmental concerns that go along with ordering in this manner.
Overall, I am impressed with the quality, price and delivery of this product, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use them in the future. While it seems like a great idea to support one’s club by buying officially licensed kits, and it oftentimes is, sometimes the heavy price tag just isn’t manageable.
If you have any questions about my experience, please don’t hesitate to ask. Send email to: [email protected]
Don’t forget to catch our World Football Roundtable show every Monday and Thursday at 10pm EST on Last Word Radio. You can follow me on Twitter – @TwoLeftCleats