Rather ironically, for a site that focuses on fashion law and aims to stop unauthorised copying and fakes in the fashion industry, wigsandgowns are inundated with spam from counterfeiters attempting to sell their products via advertising on our site. The past decade has seen an explosion in the counterfeit goods industry and it is estimated that 20% of clothing and shoes are now counterfeit. The anonymity that the internet affords sellers of counterfeit goods has created unprecedented challenges for designers trying to protect their brands. With over 70% of counterfeit goods originating in China, the internet has become a safe haven for the sellers. Websites can disappear at the touch of a button and counterfeit sellers can use numerous names and aliases on eBay to avoid detection.
While the most common counterfeit items are handbags, clothes and shoes, even makeup has been subjected to the counterfeit treatment. This week, Wigsandgowns have had spam from five different websites alone claiming to sell ‘genuine fake MAC makeup’. So what’s the problem with fakes you might ask? It’s not harming anyone, is it? Think again!
▪ Health and Safety Issues: Counterfeit products are not subject to the same health and safety tests that legtimate products are. With counterfeit make-up we don’t know what’s in it and how our skin will react. There have been reports of products containing some pretty nasty ingredients including lead, which can lead to kidney failure and, in high enough doses, death.
▪ Increased cost for the consumer: Protecting brands against counterfeiting is a costly business. Louis Vuitton, one of the most copied brands in the world, is estimated to spend a whopping half of its entire communications budget on fighting fakes. These costs are absorbed by us, the consumer, resulting in higher prices for original designer goods.
▪ You have no legal recourse when that counterfeit bag falls apart at the seams after using it twice, which more often than not will happen! Remember, consumer rights don’t exist in the black goods market.
▪ Loss in tax revenue: The producers of counterfeit goods don’t file tax returns like the rest of us resulting in a huge annual loss in tax revenue which we the public must absorb. This results in a higher tax bill for all of us.
▪ You could be supporting child slave labour: Counterfeiters do not pay their staff a fair wage and they have poor working conditions and long hours. Several counterfeiters are known to use child slave labour.
▪ You could be funding terrorism: Profits from counterfeiting have been linked to organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorism.
Still think counterfeiting is a victimless crime? While it’s not always easy to spot a fake, especially online, remember the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So if you spot a pair of this season Louboutins in Selfridges for £800 and spot what appears to be an identical pair online for £150, it’s unlikely they are genuine. Remember, fakes are never in fashion!