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Can You Spot The Fake?


CLICK HERE FOR CELEBRITY FASHION, INCLUDING JESSICA ALBA, LAUREN CONRAD, JULIA ROBERTS, ANGELINA JOLIE AND MORE! TOLANI, LOVE QUOTES, SIR ALISTAIR RAI, LAUREN MOSHI . . .

The following is a great story and very worth reading. And so is this email we received from Gucci.com customer service. We wrote because a customer questioned the authenticity of a bag based on the lining. We asked Gucci.com which lining was correct, and received this answer. When you read somewhere online that all Gucci are the same, remember this email reply from Gucci.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Gucci"
To:
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:30 PM
Subject: Gucci Online Request

> Dear Ms. Fxxxxxxx,

>Thank you for shopping with us at Gucci. Unfortunately, there are no additional
>images available for this handbag. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
>Please note, this particular handbag has either a plain or printed lining.

>I am pleased to inform you this the bag is currently available for purchase with us online. If you have any other
>questions or need further assistance, please reply to this email or contact us at
>assistance@US-onlineshopping.gucci.com.
>Sincerely,
> Jennifer
> Gucci Online Personal Shopper

As for bags bought here at UnusualThreads.com, we will let Kristin tell you her story. She bought this bag (click here> from us and, after a while, it developed quality problems. Yes, it happens. We advised her to take it to the closest Gucci boutique for repair:

    Just wanted to let you know. I took my Gucci to the local Gucci store for a repair. They sent it to New York, fixed it for me, and had it back in a week. So glad it is real!!! What a deal!! I'm sure I'll be buying more in the future. I was so skeptical and scared to death to take it in. You hear stories like that and then people are told it is a fake. Thanks! Kristin, Ashburn, VA, Nov. 22, 2007

By: Jim Edwards
Published: October 28, 2002

With a market full of knockoffs, Brandweek hit the streets to expose the fake bags, fragrances and other would-be designer merchandise. Two years ago, Gucci executives discovered that discount retailer Daffy's had been selling fake copies of its designer Jackie O bags. Gucci immediately sued the store chain, demanding to know its suppliers.


When a retailer is caught selling knockoff goods, it can normally expect to be banned from carrying the brand in addition to paying heavy fines. In this case, however, Daffy's raised a curious defense: The store executives believed the bags were real.

Over the next two years, the suit devolved from a simple request for an injunction into a scorched-earth battle over differences in leather, buckles, hasps, straps, sizes and reptile skin?in pink, black and what the judge called "lurid purple." Tellingly, neither side chose to publicize the war.

To make its case, Gucci brought to court a genuine Jackie O and a fake, and had its head of quality control, a 31-year employee, testify that he had "never seen" a real bag that looked like a Daffy's fake.

The judge was unimpressed. He noted that when both bags were compared even Gucci could provide no proof as to which was fake and which was real. "The handbags were counterfeit," the judge agreed, "albeit a high-quality product capable of fooling even the most discriminating buyers."




In fact, Daffy's managers had gone to lengths to ascertain the origin of the bags. First, they took a Jackie O to a Gucci store where the staff pronounced it real. Then they sent a broken bag to Gucci to be repaired under warranty; it came back fixed, without comment. Further, Daffy's noted, the bags had come from a reputable supplier and had been as expensive as the real thing.

In September, the judge ordered Daffy's to stop selling the bags, but ruled against Gucci on all other counts, allowing Daffy's to continue selling Gucci product.

Undeniably, the market is awash in counterfeit products. Barbara Kolson, svp and general counsel at Kate Spade, says that for every genuine bag the New York designer sells, there is at least one fake sold illegally. "Our problem is obviously of the magnitude of Chanel's, Prada and others," she said. The lost revenue is about $70 million yearly, she estimated.

To assess the quality of the fake goods trade, Brandweek took a stroll along Canal Street in New York, a strip famed for its black market. We invited two experts from Boston-based brand security consultancy GenuOne, famous brands manager David Margolis and chief marketing officer Andy Barron.

All the bags we saw were pronounced fake by the pair. Bogus Gucci and pseudo-Kate Spade were particularly popular. "The labels aren't embroidered on, they're stuck on," noted Barron. "The lining is either generic or it's misbranded. They don't think people are going to look inside." He also found metal Prada logos missing their corner rivets and crudely embossed leather. But overall, Margolis said, "some of it looks very close to the real stuff."

Fragrances were a different story. Barron was particularly taken with a Burberry bottle hawked from a wheeled cart outside a pizza parlor. "They had the right details?the right darkness of wood, the whole packaging. It's got the right drawstring bag, even the label on the bottom," he noted.


Margolis reckoned the Burberry was genuine, but had come from the "gray market," genuine product that has putatively fallen off the back of a truck. In an effort to boost profits, designers in recent years have cut costs by outsourcing their manufacturing to factories in Asia. The factories then make more product than the designer orders and send the surplus to street dealers in Europe and the U.S.

GenuOne recommends any number of high-tech gizmos to guard against fraud, including embossed holograms, invisible ink, X-ray detection, digital watermarking, intaglio printing (which textures paper like a banknote) and dyes that change color with the angle of the sun.

Clients are slowly coming around, but part of the problem is the designers themselves. In their rush to deliver year-on-year growth, many have reduced retail prices. And, whereas designer apparel was once only available in Paris, it is now on sale at the local mall, reminded Pamela Danziger, president of the luxury consultancy Unity Marketing and author of Why People Buy Things They Don't Need.

Marketers have thus trained their consumers to be, well, cheap. In a study sponsored by House & Garden, Danziger found that women made most purchases at a discount in all luxury categories except for makeup. "This has serious implications for luxury marketers," she said. When faced with an expensive Jackie O and a cheap counterfeit, Gucci will lose every time. "If you can't really tell the difference and you're getting it for 10% of the cost, why not?"

The consumer needs re-educating, argued Kate Spade's Kolson. "The real problem is a strange perception among middle-class women and their daughters that it's OK to buy knockoffs," she said. "Some of them just don't care. They think it's cute." Each fake damages the brand and, judging from the tone of her voice, hurts Kolson personally. She recently received a letter from the chief counsel of a Senate subcommittee, whose father had been caught selling "cheesy" counterfeits in his gas station in California.

"He has the ear of President Bush! I told him I'm letting your father off, but I'm keeping your name and number to torture you," Kolson said.

Until recently, designers refused to talk about their fake problem. (Neither Gucci nor LVMH returned calls for this story.) Now they have formed trade associations like the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition to campaign against fakes.

But it's an uphill battle. Consider this: During the Gucci lawsuit, the genuine Gucci bag was stolen from the court clerk's office before it got to the judge. "The court could only offer its apologies [for] this embarrassing event," the judge wrote. The bag was not recovered.


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