Devil wears faux Prada: Is the fake fashion industry killing the originals?

May 05, 2018, 12:29 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but is it still so if copied high-fashion commodities are an over $400 billion industry? mid-day breaks down the feat of the counterfeit industry

Illustration/ Ravi Jadhav
Illustration/ Ravi Jadhav

Sneakers, wristwatches, handbags, clothes – you name it. If it's high fashion and high on demand, there is a low-quality knock-off available for you. If not an exact fake, there are brands taking 'inspiration' to a new level by copying someone else's existing product, something the highly-popular Instagram pages Diet Prada and Diet Sabya have been deftly calling out to let the masses know that copying was never in fashion. While they continue their shade-laced and earnest efforts against copycats, mid-day looks at the giant counterfeit industry whose success proves imitation is flattering, but mostly for the knock-off.

Luxe and faux
'Luxury' goods are made for indulgence and their cost hardly ever matters. Luxe brands, according to research by Dubois et al (2001), luxury is defined by six charact-eristics: excellent quality, premium pricing, uniqueness, aesthetics, heritage and superflo-usness. Counterfeiting according to the Intern-ational Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) is defined as, "... a federal and state crime, involving the manu-facturing or distribution of goods under someone else's name, and without their permission."(With inputs from: The Indian luxury consumer: Analysis of perceptions and motiva-tions towards luxury and counterfeiting by Jahhaanmeet Kaur)

Copy rider
What kind of goods are likely to be counter-feited? Anything that is popular is likely to have a copy. This includes everything from a Cartier bracelet to a Huda Beauty lipstick.
Where do these goods mostly originate from? China. A report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said in 2013, as much as 63% of the world's counterfeit goods came from China. In the same year, India was responsible for 1.2%. China was a top performer in the consumption of luxury goods with a market size of €20 billion in 2017, according to the Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study Fall-Winter 2017 by Bain and Company.

Faking it hurts
These are the dangers of buying a counterfeit product:
Substandard materials: Faux goods are not made with the same high-quality materials as the original. They can contain components that put the health of consumers at risk.
Risk of fraud: If you are buying fake goods from a website, it can put you at a serious risk of identity or credit card theft.
Illegal: This should come as no surprise, counterfeit goods infringe on intellectual property and making or selling them is illegal. If one buys fake products they end up supporting this industry.
Supports child labour and organised crime: Counterfeiters do not pay their employees fairly, make them work in pitiable conditions and often employ children. Aside from this, the profits they make have been linked to funding organised crime and even terrorism.
Hurts the originals: Companies spend years developing quality products and a brand customers can trust. When counterfeiters enter the fray with goods that look just like the original, they take away from the efforts and profit of the company.
(Source: IACC)

Fish out the fakes
Wish to identify the real Prada from the fake? Consider the three 'P's by the IACC
Price: Nothing luxe will come at a fraction of its known price.
Packaging: This is a key identifier. Luxe products are also known for the feel its packaging gives you. So if you're getting a Dior perfume for cheap in a janky bottle, you know it's not the real deal.
Place: Always verify stores or websites you purchase luxe goods from.

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Also Read: Designers Discuss The Challenge Of Making Sustainable Fashion That's Sexy, In India

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