Be real - buy authentic!

At Lux Second Chance we strongly believe and champion authenticity. It is the core value of our company. The counterfeit fashion market has long been reported as an economical, social and cultural problem. In this article we want to discuss why it is so bad! We will not talk about a shopper who is tricked into buying a fake unknowingly, but we are going to discuss a customer and their motive, who purchases the counterfeit item consciously, “non deceptively". We will also discuss the criminal activity of a deceptive counterfeiting, including a theft of intellectual property, tax evasion and even funding of terrorist activities! 

Real Gucci Bag

The discussion between original/authentic versus fake/counterfeit has been a debate for many things, not only fashion. It comes along with the philosophical debate between “to be” and “to seem”, “real” and “simulated”. Do you remember that episode of "Sex and the City" with a fake Fendi purse? Let’s be frank - if consumers were not buying, the production of replicas and fakes would not exist. The demand drives the production. According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), the total projected value of the global trade in counterfeit goods in 2015 was $1.77 trillion, a number that is roughly equal to the GDP of Brazil! [8] As a matter of fact, counterfeits are the fastest growing market in the world and is expected to grow to 2.8 trillion dollars by 2022 [15].

On one hand, it is more common in developing economies, where people cannot afford purchasing the authentic items, where for socio-economical reasons and currency exchange rates, one designer handbag can cost as much as a yearly salary, but the desire for luxury products is very high. But on another hand, many people, even those who can afford the real thing, make a conscious choice of doing this and they use plenty of excuses to do so. Alarmingly, a survey cited by the European Commission found that 40% of Europeans consider buying counterfeit goods [6]. Researches call them “accomplices” [1] and let us argue with the most common arguments of such buyers. 

Branded Luxury Fashion Items

While the most common and obvious excuse for shoppers is to achieve a higher visual status, wearing a non-authentic designer item, they often have a bunch of other explanations when confronted. Very often they say, “I don’t care about the brand, I just like the design”.

A good design doesn’t come from street markets and hidden undercover factories. If one likes a design, it means that a team of fashion minds have worked hard to create something that will catch your eye. This person has an extraordinary taste, top education and hustled really hard to get a job in the luxury fashion industry. Their team travelled the world to source the best materials to create the desired handbag/shoes/dress that you like the design of.

Today's fashion is way more accessible than ever and if the item is just of a trendy style, not logo-heavy, like a pouch style bag or a heavy chain flap purse, and if you genuinely just “like the design”, you can buy the design from mass market brands. Original Zara is always better than a fake Chanel.

 

Fake Chanel Paper Bag

“I like the item, but I don’t want to pay over $1,000 / can’t justify throwing away thousands of dollars for a piece of fashion” or  “Why paying so much, when you can find the same item for a tenth of a price”

The most common excuse for purchasing counterfeit goods is the money-saving motive. Professor Ian Phau and his colleagues from Australia, examining counterfeit consumption in China and Singapore, call such shoppers “value-conscious” [1] [14] and for them the opportunity to save the money is a main driving force to purchase an item. And as an aftermath, researchers from Mexico, Maria Perez, Claudia Quintanilla and Raquel Canstaño, in their academic article “Constructing identity through the consumption of counterfeit luxury goods”  found that on top of saving money “these actions when internalized seem to contribute in the creation of a positive consumers’ self-image” [10].

However, everything in the world has its price. Yet again, it is important to understand how the global fashion industry works. The price of the item includes the design, top craftsmanship, salaries to the employees, marketing, fashion shows, and sustaining luxury boutiques that provide an enjoyable shopping experience. The value of the item also includes a brand’s heritage and its cultural significance. Of course, there is a whole mythology and aura of prestige around luxury brands.  According to Ian Phau, “Consumers purchasing counterfeit brands are willing to pay for the visual attributes and functions without paying for the associate quality. As such, consumers prefer counterfeit products with a famous brand name attached that would present some connotation of prestige to the consumer.” In the same way the story happens in Mexico, where “by buying counterfeits at low prices, while pretending to use the originals, these consumers seek to associate themselves with the image created by the luxury brands, benefiting from their prestige aura and refusing to pay the prices demanded for the originals” [10].

Well, if you don’t want to pay the top price for a new item from a store, wait for it to go on sale. If it is a brand, that doesn’t do markdowns, there is always an option to purchase second hand. If you wholeheartedly like the item, shop at trusted websites like Lux Second Chance, where every items has been authenticated, yet still cheaper and retains the value of the brand.

Lowcost Logo instead of Lacoste

“Why supporting big corporations (like LVMH, Kering), when I can give my money to the local vendor in the market?”

This type of behaviour has “Robin Hood mentality” , as described by Ian Phau [1] and as a matter of fact, it is even worse. According to Phau, “Consumers rationalize purchasing counterfeits as justifiable because they perceive themselves to be less unethical or illegal. Hence, consumers feel less responsibility as a counterfeit patron. Furthermore, the ‘Robin Hood Mentality’ creates very little consumer sympathy for gigantic multinational corporations that complain about profit lost” [1]. But what consumers probably do not realize is that supporting a trade of counterfeiting sellers encourages lots of other illegal activities. Many countries are trying to fight counterfeit on the state level as it directly impacts tax revenues.

For example in United Kingdom, Intellectual Property report found that 4% of all imports made in 2013, were counterfeit. This results in a loss of sixty thousand jobs in the manufacturing industry and £4 billion lost in tax revenue [2].  In France, despite the hefty fines and even imprisonment, counterfeiting still costs French luxury houses $7.5 billion in lost revenue every year [5].

According to BBC, The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau advises consumers to avoid buying fake goods because "you're helping the trader to break the law”. The bureau, which is affiliated to the City of London Police, also claims: "Many fraudsters use the proceeds from selling counterfeit goods to fund drug dealing or other types of organized crime” [3]. According to the article “Drugs, Guns, and Fake Kicks: Inside the Counterfeit Economy”, “Italian Intelligence says “almost all” of the country’s bootleg industry is run by the Mafia. Another UN report mentions Chinese gangs with ties to Italian counterfeiting experts forcing “smuggled migrants into prostitution and low-wage labor.” Sales of pirated CDs have been linked to funding the 2004 Madrid train bombing, and investigations firm Carratu connects money from counterfeit goods to Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the Japanese Yakuza, the ETA, and the Russian mob [8] [9]. And not to forget the terrorist attack in Charlie Hebdo newspaper in France. Apparently, the terrorists had funded their weapons purchases by buying fake Nike sneakers from China and reselling them in Paris [4] [8].

 

Fake brands

“It is not a Chinese fake. It is an Italian replica, made in Italy, from the original molds”

However it is called - counterfeit, fake, imitation, replica, triple A copy - this is still inauthentic. Even though China produces more than 80 per cent of the counterfeit goods seized in Europe, according to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) [2], you still supported thieves. In terms of Chinese “factory-extras”, an investigation by Jing Daily, a luxury culture website, has been made, and they report, that this is an urban myth [17]. It doesn’t matter if it was made in China, Vietnam, or Russia (global leaders in counterfeit production )[2][16], whether it was purchased in a market in Italy or in a bazaar in Istanbul. It doesn’t matter whether it was made from the original molds or leftovers from the original scraps/ raw materials or the “discard“ from original collections. On top of this, most likely it was made, using child or sweatshop labour in inhumane conditions [8]. It is still an unauthorized item and the original creator has not monetarily benefited from it. This is an intellectual property theft.

Fake Cartier Message

If you ask, “If it’s such a crime, why police is not doing anything?”. The amount of counterfeiting is so huge that it is physically not possible to prevent all of it. That is why the authorities, agencies and bureaus ask consumers to take some responsibility and not purchase it. However, France counts possession of fake designer goods as a criminal offence, and owning a knockoff can be punished by fines of up to €300,000 or a three-year prison sentence. In 2012 France introduced an anti-counterfeiting campaign, placing ads in the busiest airports to warn the tourists as well. The campaign has been taken up around Europe: the Customs administrations in six other EU countries (Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) have adopted it in their local languages to raise awareness among their citizens [18]. "Every time you buy a fake Lacoste, a fake Longchamp, a fake Chanel, you are shooting yourself in the foot on the values you hold dear," said Dior CEO Sidney Toledano [5][16].

Fake Chanel Phone Message

 

 

“It’s just a handbag. What’s the difference whether I wear an original Gucci or a fake Gucci, as long as I am a good person?”

Many people, purchasing into counterfeit, think, “it is just a handbag”, but a handbag is never just a handbag. It is also a status symbol, it expresses your tastes and reflects sartorial belonging to certain cultural entity, which is a fashion house with its heritage and values. If one proudly wears counterfeit, the image they present to the world is not synchronized with their socio-economical abilities and values. In other words, this kind of dishonesty makes a person inauthentic as well. As a matter of fact, a research has been made to prove this point.

In their academic article “The Counterfeit Self: The Deceptive Costs of Faking It" researchers Francesca Gino, Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely made a series of experiments with designer sunglasses to prove a suggestion that “a product’s lack of authenticity may cause its owners to feel less authentic themselves—despite their belief that the product will actually have positive benefits—and that these feelings then cause them to behave dishonestly and to view other people’s behavior as more dishonest as well. In short, we suspect that feeling like a fraud makes people more likely to commit fraud” [11]. They made a series of experiments with a large sample of young women. In order to prove their point, the scientists provided them with authentic Chloe sunglasses, but half the women thought they were wearing replicas. And then women had to perform several tasks that presented opportunities for lying and cheating. The results were quite shocking.

 “We first found that wearing purportedly counterfeit sunglasses caused people to cheat more on tests when given the opportunity— both when they believed they had an inherent preference for counterfeit products (Experiment 1a) and when they were randomly assigned to wear counterfeits (Experiment 1b). Indeed, we found that the impact of counterfeits extends even beyond the individual, causing individuals not only to behave unethically, but also to see the behavior of others as more unethical (Experiment 2). Finally, we investigated the mechanism underlying these effects, determining that wearing counterfeits causes people to feel inauthentic and that these feelings of inauthenticity—the counterfeit self—drive unethical behavior (Experiment 3)” [11].

In 2012 one of the above mentioned researchers, Dan Ariely, who is a professor of psychology, cognitive science and behavioural economics at Duke University, wrote a book “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves” and included that experiment with fake sunglasses. The moral of the story, he wrote, is “if you, your friend, or someone you are dating wears counterfeit products, be careful! Another act of dishonesty may be closer than you expect.” Ariely believes wearing counterfeit fashion has a deeper impact on a person's morality than other counterfeit goods, like pirate software. “I do think clothes are different because clothes are a constant reminder of who we are” he told in one of the interviews [12]. Unlike an illegal download where once you have listened or watched it is done with, he says, “imagine you are buying fake sunglasses and you carry them everywhere you go. It is a reminder that these are illegal.” Fashion is also “something that we pay attention to, to signal to other people who we are, something we are proud of… You might be afraid of getting comments on it in case it is a counterfeit and because of that it captures much more of our attention, energy and awareness.” [12]

 

Fake products message

Isn’t all of this surprising, mind-blowing and alarming?

So if by any chance, one day, you will feel seduced by getting into purchasing a counterfeit bag, think twice and ask yourself three questions -  1.Perhaps the real producer of the item should be compensated for all the incredible job that they have created? 2. What if the revenue of the merchant I am buying it from, goes to a global terroristic organization? and 3. Who am I actually fooling - my social circles into pretending who I am not, or myself? In case you are a value-conscious shopper and love the feeling of saving money while hunting for great deals, just go to trusted resellers of authentic designer goods, like Lux Second Chance, and may you be happy with a great money-saving deal while participating in the honest value-product exchange!

 

Fake handbag

 

 

 

Sources

1. Phau, I., Teah, M. & Lee, A. Targeting buyers of counterfeits of luxury brands: A study on attitudes of Singaporean consumers. Journal of Targeting, Measurement and Analysis for Marketing (2009) 17, 3–15. doi:10.1057/jt.2008.25

2. https://fashionispsychology.com/fake-it-till-you-make-it/ 

3. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-36782724

4. https://www.vogue.com/article/why-i-stopped-wearing-funny-fakes

5. https://www.popsugar.com/fashion/French-Anti-Counterfeiting-Ad-Campaign-23352697

6. Catherine Viot, André Le Roux, Florence Kremer. Attitude towards the purchase of counterfeits: Antecedents and effect on intention to purchase. Recherche et Applications en Marketing (English Edition), SAGE Publications, 2014, 29 (2), pp.3-31. ff10.1177/2051570714533474ff. ffhal-01803871f

https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01803871/document

7. KEITH WILCOX, HYEONG MIN KIM, and SANKAR SEN*. Why Do Consumers Buy Counterfeit Luxury Brands? Journal of Marketing Research

247 Vol. XLVI (April 2009), 247–259

https://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/mygsb/faculty/research/pubfiles/5683/counterfeit_luxury_brands.pdf

8. https://www.complex.com/style/2016/12/counterfeit-fashion-industry

9. https://www.unodc.org/documents/counterfeit/FocusSheet/Counterfeit_focussheet_EN_HIRES.pdf

10. Constructing identity through the consumption of counterfeit luxury goods

June 2010. Qualitative Market Research 13(3):219-235

DOI:10.1108/13522751011053608

 11. Francesca Gino, Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely. The Counterfeit Self: The Deceptive Costs of Faking It. Psychological Science 2010 21: 712. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610366545 http://pss.sagepub.com/content/21/5/712

12. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-psychology-of-knock-o_b_523218

13. https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/fake-bags-for-fake-women-20120815-248am.html

14. Phau, I. and Teah, M. (2009), "Devil wears (counterfeit) Prada: a study of antecedents and outcomes of attitudes towards counterfeits of luxury brands", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 15-27. https://doi.org/10.1108/07363760910927019

15. https://www.foreo.com/mysa/the-big-broad-world-of-counterfeits/

16. https://wwd.com/business-news/marketing-promotion/france-unveils-new-anti-counterfeit-ads-5932220/

17. https://jingdaily.com/china-counterfeit-report-do-factory-extras-really-exist/

18. https://consumeo.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/real-ladies-dont-like-fakes-the-comite-colbert-launches-new-anti-counterfeiting-campaign/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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