Grandmas in Bukhara/Uzbekistan. Militaries on trains. Girls shopping at the weekly border market between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. They all have one thing in common: they carry their stuff around in a plastic bag with the print AYGEN COLLECTION. Across nation borders and over mountains, there’s one product that makes it to all the smallest villages of Central Asia – and it’s a damn blue bag.
Now, what’s this bag about? Does it promote a famous brand? No – it turns out it’s sold in the bazaars and you actually need to pay for it. In countries where most plastic bags are so thin that they get full of holes after using them once, the durable thicker AYGEN bags are a must-have for transporting the veggies, clothing and all the necessities of Central Asian life. And oh, it’s good for repairing water pipes, too.
But the further we went from Kyrgyzstan into Uzbekistan, we noticed a change – the bags were not as sturdy as up north. The blue color was slightly different. We heard a not-so-pleasant crinkling sound. They were FAKE. Yes, it seems that these bags are so omnipresent that they have become a statement in themselves, and earned a brand identity of sorts which makes it worthwile to start selling copies.
We have good reason to believe this bag makes it all the way into Afghanistan, as it can be seen on the fantastic border market which is held in no man's land every Saturday on an island in the river between Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
So what’s the source of the blue bag? After some googling, it turns out there’s a company called Aygen Creation in Turkey, making shirts. The original source of the bag? Who knows. All we know is that is now a newly opened AYGEN COLLECTION shop in Bishkek, selling swimwear! Any connection to the plastic bag, which existed long before the shop? We think not, but we’re curious to find out if the store will be successful, as ‘their’ brand identity is already established as the plastic bag carried around by grandma’s on the countryside. Friends in Bishkek, please keep us up to date on the development!