Genuine vs fake designer goods: can you tell the difference?

July 31st, 2009 22 Comments By Vince Wong

img54 300x284 Genuine vs fake designer goods: can you tell the difference?The internet has made buying second hand designer goods much easier than it used to be. Often, even after you factor in shipping, the cost of an “experienced” designer handbag or belt is far less than buying new. And with the world economy still wracked with dry heaves, more people than ever are selling some nice possessions to bring a little more money into the household.

Second hand can be great for those who love the goods but don’t have the budget for them. And occasionally, people do find that rare genuine object for a great price. But counterfeit goods cost the UK much more than “just” a few quid here and there. The internet is also awash with peddlers of fake designer goods, and it costs the UK economy £9 billion a year. So how do you minimize the chances of buying a counterfeit when you think you’re buying something genuine? Here are a few points to consider before your next purchase of a brand name item:

1. Familiarize yourself. Before you make the transaction, if possible, familiarize yourself with the real thing by closely examining it at one of the high street stores. That will help you to see if there is something “off” about the item you’re buying. If nothing else, Which? advises looking at the designer’s website closely to study the genuine article in terms of stitching, logo, and hardware. If you are purchasing an expensive watch, examine not just the face, but the hands shape, size, colour and internal mechanism if possible. Check the fonts, the description (and spelling!) on the bezel. Don’t forget to check the watch strap and the writings/logos on the back of the watch.

2. Look at the packaging. Often the packaging is your best clue. Louis Vuitton handbags don’t come wrapped in cellophane. Prada shoes come in a box where the logo is only on the box end, not the top, and the real ones are further packaged in a silver plastic bag with a silver drawstring, not a fabric bag with a black drawstring.

3. Obscurity can be a good thing. Everybody knows the big names like Versace, Manolo Blahnik, Ugg, and Prada. These are the most likely to be counterfeited. An Aquascutum coat or a Loewe clutch purse is somewhat more likely to be the real thing.

4. Ask yourself if the price makes sense. Yes, you’ve all heard the platitudes about “If it’s too good to be true, etc. etc.,” but it’s a platitude for a reason. The same goes for scammers selling fake items as genuine products to increase perceived value. A fake Omega Seamaster (grade A) would retail for around £40-£150 (depending where you purchase it), but they also can look just like the real thing. C Search out listings that allow you to pay upon collection, so that you can examine it in person.

People may think of counterfeiting as a victimless crime, but beyond fake designer handbags and clothing accessories, counterfeiting certain products such as drugs or fake jet airplane/automobile parts have cost lives. Have you ever bought fake stuff knowingly or unknowingly? Do you think it matters? Let us know.

Comments (22) Jump to most recent comment
  1. Posted by abc July 31, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    That is definitely a real Rolex.

  2. Posted by The Real Bob July 31, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Bizarrely, had that been an old 50′s Mickey Mouse watch you could have flogged it at an auction anjd bought yourself a nice Rolex with the proceeds.

  3. Posted by Nobby July 31, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I have never bought fake jet airplane parts.

  4. Posted by Inactive July 31, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I bet it does exactly the same as a Rolex, tells the time, nothing more, nothing less.

    At least it is attractive..

    Labels are all a load of hyper expensive tosh, the more fakes the better.

  5. Posted by Eddy July 31, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Personally I don’t have a big moral objection to buying certain counterfeit goods.

    Every other yr I’d go to Thailand and buy a few t-shirts, some dvds and maybe a snide watch all for my personal use. Put simply I can’t afford to buy ten designer t-shirts and a tag watch. Ok I can maybe afford the dvd’s but when ur buying 20 dvds all of whch were dvd quality and not dodgy camera in the cinema for £20 its hard to argue!

    Sometimes if a t-shirt didn’t fit or if id gone off it I would ask a couple of mates and they would offer me say a tenner for it. They knew it was fake because i told them and again they are happy with that. I have never sold anything fake on Ebay and if it was allowed id consider it but of course id be clear that it was a fake good. Id never buy or sell snide razor blades or oral b toothbrush heads as some ppl do on Ebay because that it just dangerous and too risky.

    Of course i understand why companies want to protect their intellectual rights and yes id expect them to try and stop the major wholesalers and drug barons. But i can fully understand why the police, customs and other affiliates know they can do little or are bothered when someone who works honestly and hard all year buys a couple fake t-shirts on holiday for personal use.

    Another thing is a few yrs ago (about 2001) when dodgy football shirts were everywhere someone i knew would bring bank a couple hundred a time is in suitcase sell to mates in the pub which would in turn pay for his holiday! Every single shirt he sold ppl knew what they were buying and for £18 a shirt which believe me were very good copies it was a bargain. One time he was stopped in Manchester airport by a customs official and his case had about 200 England shirts in. The customs official asked what was the purpose of them? he said they were for personal use and he let him through with all of the England Shirts! Eventually the football shirt manufacturers dropped the prices of many shirts to £25 or even £20 so it killed the market of dodgy shirts. The guy I know was quite happy he had a good run of a few holidays and the fact was cause he contributed to this in some small way all prices of shirts were dropped so you can argue that in the case it was good for the consumer. Although ironically prices are now back on the up!

    So while yes the principle of it may be wrong and yes I may have a different opinion if it was my product being ripped off but if football shirt prices wernt so high back in the late 90’s early 2000’s it would have never have happened. Same the Gillette Blades and Oral B t-shirts if the price for these items wasn’t so high people wouldn’t be driven to buy fake goods as much.

    As for the terrorism and drugs link yes I accept that there are probably some very nasty people out there raising funds for drugs or guns but don’t for a second try and tell me that every counterfeit item you buy is funding terrorism. That’s just a scare tactic being used by the authorities to try and scare people into not buying fake goods. I’ve still not seen one statistic or fact that proves to me all the fake stuff you buy funds drugs or terrorism.

    lol any thoughts on my response?

  6. Posted by worto July 31, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    ‘lol any thoughts on my response?’

    It was too bloody long is the first thing that springs to mind.

  7. Posted by Junkyard July 31, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Just a minor point: the article you link to states that the cost to the economy of counterfeited electronic goods is £1bn; the £9bn figure is for all so-called “IP theft” combined. There doesn’t seem to be a figure quoted for counterfeiting in general.

    Of course, these figures are utter bullshit anyway. Just try to track down the source of any of this “data”. The research is not just suspect, it is entirely non-existent.

  8. Posted by Junkyard July 31, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    “Versace, Manolo Blahnik, Ugg, and Prada”

    LOL, missed that the first time around. Nice one!

  9. ive that rolex, might sell it to the misses.

  10. Posted by Nick July 31, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    “As for the terrorism and drugs link yes I accept that there are probably some very nasty people out there raising funds for drugs or guns but don’t for a second try and tell me that every counterfeit item you buy is funding terrorism”

    Terrorism is probably largely funded by oil and the good ol’ banks.

  11. Posted by Jase August 1, 2009 at 1:52 am

    Me and my girlfriend have bought quite a few designer items from eBay…Vivienne Westwood tie, wallet, bag, ear-rings and necklace, Prada purse, Chloe bag, Timmy Woods bag, Louboutin’s heels. She has a very keen eye for fakes, both the product itself and the listing.

    Read the ENTIRE listing. Sellers can get away by listing that something is “in the style of” a designer. This usually means it is FAKE and they’re not necessarily trying to hide this fact. If you buy thinking its real and it turns out to be a dud, the seller will simply point back to their wording and you’re left with a crummy product and a red face.

    Ask to see (or look for listings including) the item’s accessories. The amount differs between designers, but most include an authenticity card, along with other pretentious designer oddities. Here’s a picture of some typical Prada stuff:
    http://www.gregoutlet.com/images/_products/brandwholesalestore/Prada%20Auth%20Cards.JPG

    Not everyone buys designer stuff from eBay; believe it or not, people actually buy it from the shop. There’s no harm in asking to see the receipt.

    Proper sellers on eBay understand the problems of counterfeiting and will post images of the item, its packaging and the accessories mentioned above.

    Now further stressing points 1 and 2.

    If you do buy something from eBay, do all the homework and it does turn out to be a fake…confront the seller. This might be the case if they’ve stolen images from another seller to pass as their own. If you can simply name the parts of the item which look funky, and threaten that you’ll go to eBay with it to shut their operation down, its likely they’ll just issue a refund to keep you from squealing.

  12. Posted by Mike Hock August 3, 2009 at 8:03 am

    I prefer fake fakes, not an actual fake, so it’s genuine… I think

  13. as the mechanism is falwless! It does the cleaning perfectly with less effort manually.

  14. there are a lot of people that wouldnt agree with me about my opinion but i think that its great that now people that cant afford those prices can feel rich or show their prestdige and feel comfortable with themselves

  15. replica handbags is a great issue right now, i mean,most of the people really want a luxuary handbag but they cant really afford it,so there is an alternative for them and its a replica,those that can afford it im sure that they will buy the real one so i dont really think that it will ruin the big companies market.

  16. Posted by LV lover April 18, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I have a mix of real and fake bags as I love designer handbags and admittedly i’m greedy. I have 3 real louis vuitton bags and 3 fakes – i have 2 kids and simply cant afford to buy authentic all of the time. Fake bags offer people on a budget an affordable alternative and although you CAN see some differences there is not alot in it with the higher end fakes. I doubt they last as long as the genuine article but all mine have held up so far and cost me less than a quarter of what the real bag retails for. YOU PAY for the name and buying into an exclusive club. Where i live no one would know the difference and for me i can only tell because I know. I dont think its wrong its up to the individudal and as long as your not trying to make profit by selling it as real article then you are doing no wrong.

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