SATIN OR SILK: The Problem with Fake Designer Goods

Saturday, September 1

The Problem with Fake Designer Goods

Umm... they're fake? Well yeah, that's part of it, but purchasing that faux speedy actually contributes to a much bigger problem. It could even get you into trouble with more than just the Fashion Police. 
Police seize fake designer handbags worth over $1 million at the Parklea markets.
Image Source: NSW Police via ABC News
I recently read an article from Harper's Bazaar which reveals why buying fake designer goods is not so harmless. The truth is, buying counterfeit fashion items supports human trafficking, terrorism and child labour. Sounds far-fetched, right? Unfortunately, this is the sad reality, and I think it's time to raise awareness about what really goes on. This article from Dana Thomas, who has also written the eye-opening book 'Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster' writes that most consumers think buying counterfeit goods is "a victimless crime" but it definitely isn't. 

I hope this isn't seen as plagiarism on my own part, but I'd also like to share the following quote from Thomas' book. This story is quite distressing, so skip to the next paragraph if you'd like, but I think it's important to know. Thomas recalls 'I remember walking into an assembly plant in Thailand a couple of years ago and seeing six or seven little children, all under 10 years old, sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags,' an investigator told me... 'The owners had broken the children's legs... because the children said they wanted to go outside and play." You can read the rest of this article, 'The Fight Against Fakes' here.
Image Source:

But doesn't everyone copy designers? 

While it's not uncommon to see Prada look-a-likes at Zara, there is a big difference between chain store items inspired by designer pieces and counterfeit goods. By making the visual comparison, we can see that counterfeit fashion items are produced with the direct intention of masquerading as a real designer item. They will often be printed with designer logos, brand names and look almost exactly like the real thing. So while those strappy sandal-heels at Zara may seem to be inspired by their Prada cousins, these shoes do not claim to be Prada in any way, so they are not counterfeit. 
Women's Prada coral suede strappy sandals shiny, strappy sandals
Image Sources Left to Right: Bluefly; She Knows

How can I make sure that I don't buy a fake?  

My advice would be to only buy designer items at the designer's own store or from another reputable retailer like a department store. If you see a "Channel" bag being sold from a street vendor for $5, step away from the handbags. For online shoppers, only use the designer's own e-store or a reputable online designer retailer like If you suspect you have discovered fake designer goods, you can report them by contacting the real brand owner.  

Quick tips for spotting a fake

Here are some tips from Hannah Elliot at on how to spot a fake Louis Vuitton bag. 
Image Source: Click and Make Up. This image was taken from a blog post where the blogger talks about how she bought this bag even though she knew it was fake. What?

  • Camel-colored handles should not be painted red at the seams.
  • The zippers should be stamped with the Vuitton logo.
  • Real Louis Vuitton type font has circular, almost perfectly round, Os. They shouldn't look like ovals.
  • Seams should match up evenly on the sides of the bag.
  • The LV logo should not be broken along any seam or cut.
  • On handle tabs, each portion of the tab should have the same amount of stitches as its corresponding tab on the other side of the bag. 
  • These are the five standard patterns (or variations of these patterns) that bags or trunks should be printed with:
  1. The gray Trianon canvas (patented 1854)
  2. The red and beige vertical-striped canvas (1872), 
  3. The beige and darker beige monochrome striped canvas (1876), 
  4. The Damier canvas (1888)
  5. The Monogram canvas (interlocking LVs, diamond points, stars and Kimono-inspired quatrefoil flowers patented 1896).

A good rule for buying any designer item is that it should be impeccably well made. If you sense that the bag is of a poor quality it ain't the real deal. 

Here are some more helpful articles on how to spot a fake:
How to spot a fake Louis Vuitton from HipSwap 
Spotting the Fakes: How to Tell if your Handbag is Authentic from The Elegant Tightwad 

What can I do?

This is not an issue that we can throw money at. In fact, we need to do the exact opposite. I think that the only way to make an impact on this illegal trade is to simply stop buying these counterfeit items and encourage others to do the same by using peaceful tactics. 

I hope that this post has got you thinking about this big issue. I'm not writing to judge anyone, I just want raise awareness and I hope you will too.


Commonwealth of Australia. (2012). Australian Federal Police. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from AFP:

Elliott, H. (2010, November 11). How to Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from

Thomas, D. (2007). Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster. London: Penguin Press

Thomas, D. (2009, January 9). The Fight Against Fakes. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from Harper's  

WikiHow. (2012, April 25). How to Avoid Buying Counterfeit Products. Retrieved September 1, 2012, from WikiHow:


  1. Great post! There's been quite a bit of news popping up lately about the counterfeit "luxury goods" market and all of the people it is harming, so I'm really appalled that a blogger (especially one who seems fairly well-established) would actually buy one of these pieces and brag about it on her site!

    1. Thank you for your concern, Martha. I just want people to be aware of where these goods come from and the industry they are supporting.


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