by Phuong Mai
Smartphone apps popular among Vietnamese housewives
The increasing use of smartphones in Viet Nam has led to more mobile apps that are helping people save money, eat better and monitor their health.
Years ago, Vietnamese housewives recorded everything on paper, and sometimes there were inaccuracies. Now, with only a smartphone, mobile apps on personal money management help record and store household expenses in a more precise way.
Online mobile apps at the Apple and Google Play stores, for example, include Money Lover, So Thu Chi (Spending Notebook) and T2Expense.
Phan Kim Quyen, a mother of two sons in Bien Hoa City, said: "I'm using So Thu Chi, and I'm pleased with what it offers because it helps me manage my family's expenses."
"That's what I expect from a smartphone," she said.
Used clothing gets second life in tough economic times
How dare a white-collar employee wear a secondhand piece of clothing, you say? In Viet Nam, where everything new is venerated by poseurs who see themselves as "modern" fashion plates, the idea of purchasing secondhand clothing is often viewed with horror and disdain.
In many other countries, even those far more developed, secondhand goods, particularly high-quality vintage items, are sought after by those who have an appreciation and love for good design, both old and new.
However, a new trend seems to be emerging in the country for secondhand clothes that are priced and made well.
"Previously, my customers were mostly students, but now more and more office staff are coming," says Nguyen Van Quoc, an owner of a secondhand clothing shop in HCM City's Ba Chieàu Market.
Quoc says many of his products were from the US or the UK, with popular brand names like Old Navy, H&M and Mango that attract students and others looking for decent quality at a relatively low price.
Tran Thi Thanh, who bought five shirts for her husband from a shop in District 3, said some of the clothes were big enough to fit her husband.
"I am satisfied with the fabric and designs which have nice, interesting patterns," she said.
It appears that the rising prices of ready-made clothes, rather than an appreciation for a variety of styles and vintages, have renewed interest and desire in secondhand clothing in the country. A new locally-made shirt now costs between VND250,000 (US$12) to 500,000 ($24) and beyond.
"The shirt I bought was only VND100,000, but it can look good for a few years," Thanh said.
"I look at the brand names, colour and materials," Thanh says."It takes a lot of time to find nice used clothing, but you can get good items at very reasonable prices." — VNS