What’s the harm in buying a fake Gucci belt? It helps advertise the brand and saves me money…right? NO!!!! Buying counterfeits is not a victimless crime. Would you buy that belt if you knew your money directly funded child labor, organized crime, and terriorism? That is exactly what is happening! Counterfeit production is growing into a trillion dollar industry.
What seems like a harmless purchase on Amazon or Ebay is not harmless at all. From a consumer level I can see how people think there is no harm in buying a few fakes, but because producing counterfeits is illegal the major players in the industry are crime bosses and known terrorist. Think about who the people willing to break the law and set up illegal companies are? They are not just innocently making counterfeit items. This is a major industry with huge amounts of money being made. The profits are so good some crime organizations are moving out of selling drugs and into counterfeiting. They use child labor where they have been caught chaining children to sewing machines and breaking their legs. Buying fakes puts money in terrorist pockets used to buy weapons and bullets. Buying that fake Gucci belt could fund bullets for the next terrorist attack! It is not harmless to buy counterfeits!
The world of blogging and Instagram is helping the industry grow. I cringe every time I see an influencer promote a fake item. I know the majority probably don’t know the harm, but it’s time to start educating the industry. Instagram and Facebook ads are flooded with sites selling designer fakes. I am not talking about the dupes or design copies of a bag or shoe. We have all seen the Steve Madden dupes of the Hermes Oran sandals, or bags in Target that resemble the look of a designer bag. Maybe not ethical to completely steal someones design, but not always illegal. I am talking about counterfeits. Please take a few minutes and watch this TED talk about the counterfeit industry and the harm.
So…how do you know if a site is selling authentic goods? I got questions about the Louboutin’s and items on Savannahs today. Some were asking if they are real and legit. I love getting that question because it means you care! These are a few steps I take to vet out new sites I have never shopped at.
- A quick google search to check for reviews and articles written about site. If it’s a legitamite site there should be reviews and some form of publication about them. Now, I take reviews with a grain of salt in terms of customer service because I feel people only take the time to review when they are angry. Seldom do people review if it was a straight forward smooth purchase. If reviews are about shipping time, bad return issues, and customer service I don’t let that deter me. That’s part of normal business.
- Check social media presence and who follows them. If other legitimate boutiques and people follow them that’s a good sign. Some smaller boutiques (especially in Europe) don’t always have a huge following. I’m checking more if they have a presence and its linked to their website.
- Do they have a physical store? If they do search google images and maps. It should match their website address. Often you can see a picture of the store on google images. Check the phone number and call. Someone should pick up with the store name if they are real. Some legit sites like Farfetch and Yoox (same company as Net-a-Porter) don’t have physical stores but they have tons of reviews, articles written about them, and publicly traded companies. If they don’t have a physical location it just takes a little more digging.
- One of the easiest ways to vet a site or store is to call the designer and ask if they are an authorized seller. If the site is selling Louboutin’s and you are unsure, call Louboutin’s 1-800 number and ask if they are authorized to sell their products. All designers will be able to let you know who is an authorized seller of their products.
- If the site is a close-out site like TJ Maxx or Century 21 designers will not be able to say they are authorized sellers, but it doesn’t mean the items are fake. With those sites you have to rely on reputation and reviews. Those businesses get their items from authorized sellers at a close out. Check if they have a long standing business and solid reputation.