03 March 2011

fight against fakes

Photo from NYT

Anyone who knows me well knows how much I detest counterfeit goods. And I must take this opportunity to publicly thank my friend Nina for throwing out her fake handbags a few years ago to support me and the cause.

Since first discovering Harpers Bazaar’s campaign Fakes Are Never in Fashion, I have attempted to educate myself on the dangers and destruction caused by buying counterfeit goods.

Here are some of the facts:
$250 billion estimated loss to American companies due to intellectual property theft
$20 billion estimated loss to American companies from counterfeit products
750,000 American jobs lost due to intellectual property theft in the United States

If that’s not enough to cause you to think twice, here’s a poignant story by Dana Thomas excerpted from an article demonstrating the dangers caused by fakes:

I recall the raid I went on with Chinese police in a tenement in Guangzhou and what we discovered when we walked in: two dozen sad, tired, dirty children, ages 8 to 14, making fake Dunhill, Versace, and Hugo Boss handbags on old, rusty sewing machines. It was like something out of Dickens, Oliver Twist in the 21st century.

Then I read the following passage from my book, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster: “’I remember walking into an assembly plant in Thailand a couple of years ago and seeing six or seven little children, all under 10 years old, sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags,’ an investigator told me. . . . ‘The owners had broken the children’s legs and tied the lower leg to the thigh so the bones wouldn’t mend. [They] did it because the children said they wanted to go outside and play.’”

(Read the entire article here.)

If you can’t afford a designer handbag, it’s no big deal. There are many great companies making fashionable bags that fit the trends at friendlier prices. Among others, I am a big fan of Madewell, Banana Republic, and Nine West handbags. For luxury brands, wait for the sales. For example, I just bought a fabulous Kate Spade bag for 60 percent off at their sample sale. Also, you can sign up for sites like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La to get great real deals. If you are set on a Louis or Chanel, save up your gift cards and birthday money. You can often find deals on eBay for those. Just be sure to following their guide to avoiding counterfeit goods. And think of how much better you’ll feel knowing you are carrying the real deal!

Check out the Fakes Are Never in Fashion website for more info and tips on spotting fakes.

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