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The End of Counterfeit Fashion

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Counterfeit goods has become a global issue with multi-billion-dollar consequences. From phony pharmaceuticals and knock-off electronics to fake luxury fashion,  counterfeits make up roughly 7% of global trade. According to the World Trademark Review the fake goods market bring in $ 600 billion annually – the revenue generated is nearly twice that of the illegal drug market.

The rise of ‘superfakes’ has meant it is practically impossible for consumers to identify which items are legitimate and which are imitations. Two thirds of all fakes come from China, but increasingly India and Brazil too. Being the most attainable and recognisable luxury item the market for fake designer handbags in particular is huge and the majority of us are accustomed to seeing these on sale at markets.

Counterfeits cost European brands 9.7% of their total sales every year – the equivalent of €26.3 million euros. This actually results in an astounding loss of approximately 363,000 jobs in the manufacturing, retail and wholesale sectors of Europe’s fashion industries. Aside from the financial damage the counterfeit industry causes it also supports child labor, horrendous factory working conditions and has even been linked to funding terrorism in some cases. Factors which consumers are often unaware of.

However, the end of the bogus industry may be in sight. Luxury Italian fashion brand Salvatore Ferragamo has started to insert microchips into the heels of their shoes and a selection of bags to prevent counterfeiting. Salvatore Ferragamo hasn’t shied away from knock-off items in the past. Just last year they confiscated and destroyed 12,400 illegal items that had a total value of $17 million, but microchips is a new strategy that’s likely to be far more effective. The chip is inimitable and cannot be seen in the shoes or bags. This practice has obviously raised concerns about privacy and security, but the brand claims the chip can’t be tracked and can only be read at a distance of 4cm or less.

When it comes to luxury handbags there is very much a culture of buying and reselling on eBay a few months later, and more and more brands are realising that there is a resale value to their products that’s lost because of fakes. If sellers can prove that the item they are selling is the real thing then the sale price jumps significantly, so it seems they have the consumers best interests at heart too. Expect to see more brands following suit!

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