What used to be seen as an impulse holiday buy, has brought a dangerous reality to our shores.
Designer knock offs and counterfeit goods have always been a problem for the original designer, having to battle off the competition. However now, according to Interpol, counterfeiting operations pose a real threat. Whilst you may not think there is anything wrong with buying a fake Gucci bag off a market stall, it often has larger consequences.
The main problem lies with counterfeit goods not imitations. So what is the difference? Imitation goods or ‘designer-inspired’ are legal knock offs of a designer product. The item will not be an exact copy and have slight differences to the original such as the stitching, the logo, materials, and lining. Moreover, if you’re buying a Louis Vuitton bag for £25 on a market stall, chances are it is a fake!
Counterfeit items are fake products being advertised or sold as the real thing. The exact definition of a counterfeit product is one that is “made in exact imitation of something valuable with the intention to deceive or defraud”. Earlier this year, business secretary Vince Cable called for a global approach to tackling counterfeit operations. This is due to many counterfeiting operations being used as funding for criminal or terrorist organisations. Whilst counterfeit clothing cannot be seen as dangerous as counterfeit cigarettes for example, as it does not directly harm the consumer, somewhere along the production line, people are harmed – whether it is during the manufacture violating human rights and child labour laws, or the profits funding drug cartels and terrorist groups.
Some counterfeiting operations are so widespread that it can be hard to spot a fake, only a trained eye can spot the differences. The items are manufactured to a relatively high level of quality for fake, and can be sold for high prices. For example, a counterfeit Rolex can be sold for $100 online.
One could argue that being a student you cannot afford luxury designer goods, shown on the catwalks each year – but does that justify buying into this illegal trade?
Luxury designer companies claim the fashion industry is losing millions each year to counterfeit products. However, another spin on the argument by fashion houses is that imitations seen on the high-street are reducing their profits. Forever 21 has allegedly been sued over 50 times for copying designer clothes and selling them as their own designs! Most high-street chains, such as Zara and Topshop, copy the looks off the catwalks and recreate them in a more ‘mainstream’ way for consumers as ‘inspired’ copies.
However, once watching a few designer catwalks, you can easily spot the high-street designs closed to the originals. For example, the hugely popular Rockstud collection by Valentino has created imitations in most shops. This pair of shoes in New Look has an uncanny resemblance to the So Noir 65 Pump design.
Is it morally right to buy an crude imitation just to wear the latest trends?
It can be argued that all catwalk shows set the trends for each season of fashion so imitations are going to appear in the shops – that is the hierarchy of the fashion industry. The problem arises when counterfeit or exact copies are sold for finical gain. Criminal or not, neither should profit off a designers’ hard work.
So next time you go to buy a fake Gucci bag for £30, imagine that was your hard work being ripped off and think about the consequences of your purchase…
Written By: Daisy Holden
Featured Image From: Favim.com