Skyy was completely outsourced. Originally, the alcohol came from Midwest Grain Products in Pekin, Illinois, which also sold ethanol to refineries. It was shipped by tank car to the railroad sidings of Frank-Lin Distillers Products in San Jose. Frank-Lin is an outsourcing firm and distributor for booze products. They do some additional distillation to clean up the alcohol, add de-ionized water and flavoring, and bottle. Frank-Lin makes about 2,000 different brands with a huge variety of names. "Whether starting from a prepared prototype or simply a verbal 'concept', Frank-Lin can innovatively create any distilled spirit and coordinate its effective production." Skyy, the company, was purely a marketing operation. Skyy management eventually exited by selling out to Campari, which has their own production plants.
The Wikipedia article for Skyy was originally a puff piece copied from Skyy marketing materials. That was flagged as an ad, and Wikipedia editors started digging into how Skyy really worked. This resulted in frantic efforts by Skyy promoters to change the article back into a puff piece. Didn't work.
Hollister's origin story is completely fake. So were their Robb Havassy surfboards (used for decoration, not surfing), which got them in trouble. Hollister's first store was in a mall in Columbus, Ohio.
I think I was actually one of the first to do it, since when I started I couldn't find many competitors. I tried a million kinds of promotions, from "free, you just pay for shipping" to offering people discounts and referral codes.
I actually created my own watch designs (well, modifications of the face, case, and strap with the same Chinese movement.) Some of my improvements started to be used by the manufacturers.
I'm not at all invested in it anymore: I left the business after selling a substantial, but not massive number of watches and finding that it wasn't terribly profitable if you included the cost of advertising, shipping, and (most importantly) my own time.
My own "watch company" was more real in a few ways: watches that I did in fact design myself, shipped from my address in the US, and the quality of the watches was actually quite good. To this day I wear a watch from my company and it has held up to an incredible amount of abuse. I say this as someone who (used to) collect watches. I also was upfront about the cost of shipping and the watch itself - I might have, for example, a banner that says "Free 3-Day US Shipping" and then the price of the watch would be clearly labeled as $20, so people would know that they would only be paying a total of $20 for the watch. The prices varied a lot over time, from $10 to $40 per watch, but surprisingly my profit was never huge even though I only spent about $3 on the watch itself and $7 on shipping.
If anyone's curious about the whole thing (and lives in the Netherlands) I still have hundreds of these watches and I'd be happy to sit down over a coffee, tell my stories from the business and show the watches.
At the same time, shipping from China would have made the whole thing more... fake, I guess. Like the author of this article found, these companies never had any physical address. The quality of the watches from these companies also seems much lower than the quality that I had.
That's one of the problems with dropshipping - you don't know the quality that your customers are getting. I could take the 5 in 40 watches that would be broken or had dings/scratches and toss them, but you can't do that if you dropship. There's also the ridiculously long shipping times and lack of tracking.
A lot of things have changed in China. You now can have ISO-certified factories and you can order quality control also. But I admit that if I were to do something like that I would probably end up spending a few weeks in Shenzhen to bootstrap it.
The information one should take from this story is that watches on Alibaba are undervalued, or that the user-unfriendliness of Alibaba imposes a high per-transaction cost. By selling Alibaba stuff for 5x the original price, these businesses are communicating valuable market information; namely, that there's something wrong with Alibaba (could be accessibility/usability/trust/etc.) or that these companies provide a valuable service that may not be obvious (translation of descriptions to readable english, for example). If these companies took the "moral" (emphasis on scare quotes) approach of selling cheap watches at a smaller markup, this information would not be communicated and the world would be slower to respond.
In lower-trust environments, standard and not easily adulterated products are worth more, and that's how brands got started.
$10 watch every time. There's something to be said for price anchoring and something for nothing and other dirty tricks, but this question seems to get it all backwards.
Also, lol at the review complaining the watch wouldn't arrive in time for his girlfriends birthday or whatever. Nothing says I care quite like free.
Why I want as low S&H as possible compared to product price? Warranty. In the EU you get 2 years of warranty by law. If your product cannot be repaired, you can get your money back.
Now take the above example or take the example where you're unhappy with the product (e.g. you figure out the quality is bad, or a production error you notice) and want to send it back (in NL you'd have 14 days to do that for w/e reason, getting a full refund). If the item was free with an S&H of 12 EUR then you gotta send the product back for w/e S&H. It could be 12 EUR, it could be less. After receiving the item (for which you let them sign or else they claim they never got it back; verification costs extra) they'll issue a refund instead, worth 0 EUR. Of course, 0 EUR is an extreme example but even if the balance is out of the way the danger with relatively high S&H is that your refund is worth too little compared to your S&H.
Result? High S&H items have high failure, and are of low quality.
Of course its GLHF getting your warranty if the store is in Asia. Then again, I wouldn't buy directly from Asia. I'd buy from a shop I could verify is from EU, pref old EEG (Benelux, UK, Germany, France).
Either way, its false advertising to exclude such ridiculously high S&H from the total cost of the product. Customs calculates the price of S&H together with the cost of product anyway so you can't use it to avoid paying tax.
That actually hasn't been my experience, buying from AliExpress and Ebay directly from China. I've had multiple items replaced without having to ship them back or provide any proof. It's true that I don't order anything above ~100€, and I don't expect them to honor a two year warranty anyway, but still, I've had less pushback upon report of failure than on regular shops.
However, if you are using Wet Kopen Op Afstand (which you generally are when you're buying from a Dutch shop and have S&H to The Netherlands) and you want to send the item back (for whatever reason, with a few types of products being excluded like underwear, unsealed CD/DVD, download services, ...) then they'll have to issue a full refund INCLUDING the S&H.
Here's one source on that:
De verkoper moet uw aankoopbedrag terugbetalen, ook de bezorgkosten"
And I guarantee you many shops don't refund S&H at their own discretion.
The costs on sending the item(s) back ARE on you btw.
I have a few bucks. It took some time to really understand that value isn't always preceded by a dollar sign. Sometimes, free very much can say one cares. Well, unless you want to get into costs such as caloric inputs.
Really they are trying to convince people that the choice is between a $10 watch that costs $10 (with $2 shipping) and a $30 watch that is free (with $12 shipping).
When I tried to point out the arguable dishonesty of the whole venture, they told me [verbatim from text messages] : "I'm selling a lifestyle brand. I just want people to know my brand".
Heh. Charlatans have been a thing since humans have been able to grunt at each other.
They use it to collect emails
Source: one of the marketing groups I'm in
hipster: But I can find this exact watch for $2
soficoastal: then why are you talking to us?
soficoastal: have you ever bought a cup of coffee for 2-4 dollars? do you think it costs dunkin or starbucks that much to make? or do you think maybe they mark it up for a profit?
hipster: I, a regular person has access to that watch right now for $2.
soficoastal: you can make a cup of coffee at home for like 10 cents....it's called capitalism
To be honest I feel whoever was talking to them was a bit rude... whether you like the products or not I don't see anything wrong with their business. It's like blaming Apple for adding a huge markup to their products which in terms of hardware are very similar to a Windows PC and even made in the same factories.
So in a sense, yes, they're pretty much the same. Although their OS is great, their hardware business is based on the same model as Folsom & Co.
For those who like the design of the watches I think the style is called "Bauhaus", for further online searches.
For some more durable and genuine brands who prominently display Bauhaus design elements, take a look at the collections of:
-Junghans (Max Bill)
I hate to recommend them because, as far as I'm concerned, they're on the same spectrum as the scammers in some sense, but if you do like that style of watch and you're willing to spend maybe a hundred dollars (probably less, used, or in a sale) MVMT might be the brand to go for. And I've seen ASOS selling Bauhaus style watches for as little as £25.
 I don't love MVMT because in their marketing it's pretty clear that they're claiming to be something they're not - i.e., a "real" watch company with some actual heritage - as opposed to what they are, which is an affordable fashion brand.
Lack of square wrists, I would assume, then?
"Have paid for WHOIS protection - preventing consumers from finding out where the website is based". That's not quite true. You can locate a website with the IP address -- WHOIS protection protects the owner of the domain by obscuring their registered physical address.
It's silly, but given how interesting the write up is, I find it pretty cool. It's always good to have something that deviates from the boring, ad infested, JS guzzling norms of web design.
Not surprising to see this, because the rules are quite different for non-monospaced fonts (almost all fonts should have a liga feature for fi, and all modern text layout engines should respect it).
Source: I've worked in this space.