How to spot (and avoid buying) fake designer
In an environment of fake news, Diet Prada scandals and bought followers, the concept of authenticity has morphed from being a popular buzzword into a valued commodity. Thanks to the powerful flex of the global fashion industry, the trade and production of counterfeit goods is becoming increasingly sophisticated, profitable and adept at responding to market demands. Want new Gucci slides? No worries. Fakes are no longer being confined to the crowded markets stalls of Southeast Asia - in fact, if we've learned anything from @dietprada, it's that no country is safe from the counterfeit fashion trade.
So, in the interest of saving you from making the same mistakes as Steph Claire Smith earlier this year, we asked Sophie Hersan, Co-founder & Director of Product at luxury pre-loved designer store Vestiaire Collective how to distinguish the real from the really good fake.
How widespread is the selling of counterfeit goods?
The sale of counterfeit products is incredibly prevalent, it was estimated in 2015 that the value of internationally traded counterfeit and pirated products was around $770-906 billion. The Internet is one of the many ways counterfeit items are sold. This is why Vestiaire Collective's commitment to fighting the sale of counterfeits online is key to our model. We signed the French charter against the sale of counterfeit products online in 2012, the French government initiated this, but a huge number of global luxury brands signed up including Chanel, Celine, Dior, Burberry, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton. We also signed a similar charter in Italy in 2016, so we work closely with a wide spectrum of brands to offer a trusted environment for the resale of designer fashion.
What steps can you take to make sure you're not buying something fake, especially when its pre-loved?
Choose the outlets you purchase pre-loved pieces from carefully. Always buy from a secure trusted retailer that includes rigorous authenticity checks as part of its model. Be realistic about pricing, if a price sounds too good to be true it very probably isn't a genuine piece. Familiarise yourself with the genuine article, if you're fully aware of the details of a piece you're more likely to be able to spot a counterfeit.
What are some obvious giveaways of fake fashion goods?
Counterfeiters always make at least one error on a product. Some of the obvious giveaways to look out for are the logo and quality of the material. If a piece is supposed to be crafted from leather it should smell and feel like leather. Other obvious mistakes are in the design and craft details. A frequent example of this would be the stitching, slanted stitching is always an easy giveaway of a counterfeit product.
Have there been cases when even reputable businesses have been fooled by a good fake?
Counterfeits are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making them more difficult to spot, even for the trained eye. Since we signed the charter to fight counterfeits, we've focused on building strong relationships with the luxury houses to enable us to have open conversations around new product features and trademarks. If we're unsure about an item's authenticity we will connect directly with the relevant brand for their evaluation.
Vestiaire Collective sells second hand designer - how often do you come across fakes?
The incidence of fakes appearing at Vestiaire is extremely low, only around 0.5% of the products we receive are counterfeit. We have to be extremely vigilant when it comes to new designers and products as counterfeits surf on trends. I think it also helps that we are so open about fighting counterfeits with our trained teams, and authenticity being one of Vestiaire's key pillars.
Which brands are most often copied?
Iconic pieces from iconic brands are the most often copied, Chanel's 2.55, Louis Vuitton's Speedy, Hermès Birkin are popular counterfeit style bags. The Cartier Love bracelet and Submariner Watch Rolex are also popular. There are also the 'on trend' pieces that are popular with counterfeiters, for example this year we've seen counterfeits of the Gucci's Dionysus bag and Prince Town slippers.
A lot of people would assume that it's the big brands - Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes etc - that are targets for counterfeiting, but are there also lesser known designers who are copied?
Of course, Acne Studios, Jacquemus, JW Anderson are just a few examples of the smaller brands that are targeted.
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