Selling used American Jeans in China 15 to 20 years ago

Sorry for the strange title, but I couldn’t think of anything better.

In the late 80’s to the early or mid 90’s there were these places where you could sell your used jeans* in just about any condition and get up to $15 and then they would turn around and sell them in China for something like $100 or more, if I’m remembering correctly.

Anyway, for those who remember this, about when did this practice end? I’m assuming it ended years ago, but since this is GQ, what is the straight dope on this? Thanks.
*I can’t remember if they had to be Levi’s, or if you could sell them other brands.

it was Japan and hit it’s peak in the bubble years of the late 1980’s

Huh, I could have sworn it was China, and my wife thinks Russia too, because I heard that the Chinese government was against their people looking too western, so it was an underground market kind of thing, which is why the people buying the jeans were willing to pay so much.

Anyway, I’m not arguing with you, just telling you my recollection.

OK, I’m curious now, why did the Japanese want to spend good money on used American jeans?

I think the Japanese people frequently go through spasms of collecting American things. There was a fad for low-rider cars in Japan a few years back.

I could make a couple hundred bucks a week selling jeans back then. I would spend Saturday morning hitting garage sales buying Levi’s and a few other brand name jeans then sell them Saturday afternoon.

I always heard it was Russia where the jeans could be sold for big bucks.

regardless of the situation with China and Japan, LouisB is correct - jeans were indeed expensive in Soviet Russia in the 70s-80s. They were not imported through official channels (or at least, not enough was imported) so they would be obtained by people bringing them into the country in their luggage and selling them for a lot. Similarly, importing Western electronic gadgets like VCR was a standard way to make money for those traveling overseas as tourists or on business trips. Apparently, there was rationing of these import opportunities (i.e. you cannot bring in 10 VCR, customs will not allow it even if you had enough dollars to buy them) so there was a shortage and it made for an arbitrage opportunity to those lucky enough to travel abroad.