Counterfeit designer goods are readily available these days. The internet, eBay in particular, is full of online ads for fake clothing. It has been suggested that 60% of the goods on eBay are counterfeit! Actually though, it's 80% or more! According to the International Anti Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) about 18% of the counterfeit products seized by U.S. Customs each year are made up of fashion-related items.
The good news is that LIMELITES have been trading in designer labels for many years in the UK and we consider ourselves experienced and adept connoisseurs of most high end clothing labels. Now that we are trading here on eBay, we have decided to share our knowledge with you through this guide. The aim of this guide is to educate you and thereby allow you to make informed online purchases. We hate fakes and we want to prevent you from buying them! Read on and if you find this guide helpful in any way, then please click the "YES" button at the bottom of the page to vote for it.
We have encountered many fake garments in our time in the trade, but having dealt directly with real quality for so long in our direct commerce with Juicy Couture, Firetrap, Evisu and such like, it's not difficult for us to tell what's real and what's not. It is now time to share our knowledge with you!
Before we make any suggestions and before we highlight the ways to spot fake designer brands, we feel that it's only prudent to firstly clear up some of the myths floating around out there. If you search the net for guides on how to spot fakes then you will notice a lot of these guides have been written by bitter, resentful people who have been stung in the past and who have written a guide as a way of venting. Although these guides are written with good intention, it is true to say that a lot of them are misleading and have been written by people who know little or nothing about the subject.
For example, many guides will warn you that genuine designer labels simply cannot be purchased at bargain prices. We can categorically assure you that this is an absolute nonsense. Outrageously low prices should make you cautious, but just because the price is low does not mean it's fake! We have been buying and selling designer labels in the UK for many years and opportunities often arise to purchase wholesale lots of clearance labels at extremely low prices! Granted, it's unusual to see a £500 Louis Vuitton bag for £50, but it's not unusual to see a £250 pair of Juicy Couture jeans for £25, or a £400 Evisu jumper for £40. The reason is simple. LV bags are not mass produced like Juicy jeans or Evisu jumpers and aren't often sold in clearance lots. Juicy jeans, Evisu jumpers and such like are all mass produced and they are quite often sold in clearance lots at the end of a season.
It is another myth that designer labels with, "Made in China" tags are all fake. For example, authentic Juicy Couture is in fact manufactured in China, even though their slogan is, "made in the glamorous USA". Just because a label says, "Made in China" does not mean that it's fake! China is a manufacturing super economy, the biggest in the world! It's not unusual to find designer labels being manufactured there. Besides, credit them with an ounce of intelligence. If they're in the business of making fakes, then rest assured they will not print, "Made in China" unless the real items say the same thing!
Some of the guides out there will tell you that the only way to be sure if something is real is to buy the it from an authorised dealer, or to buy direct from the manufacturers website. Again, this is nonsense. There are in fact various ways to ascertain authenticity (see the guide below). Moreover, if you're searching eBay for designer labels then the chances are that you're bargain hunting and that you can't afford to pay the 'crazy' prices from mainstream retailers or from the brand owners websites. Also, buying direct from the manufacturer or retailer is not always an option, especially if you see something you like on eBay where the chances are that it's end of line, clearance goods and as such will no longer be available in the mainstream.
It is true that the majority of fake designer clothing is imported from China. It is nonsense though to believe that buying directly from the UK will reduce your risk of buying a fake. The UK is rife with fakes, all imported from China. You'd be astonished at just how easy it is to import boxes and boxes of counterfeit goods through UK customs. Buying from a UK seller does not in any way ensure authenticity!
Spelling mistakes are commonplace with fake merchandise. However, 'single' spelling mistakes do not prove that the item is fake. Authentic gear has often come off the press with simple spelling mistakes. More common in Italian brands than you may think.
There are a couple of guides out there, advising people that it's safe to buy second hand products as they are more likely to be real. Don't they know that fake sellers realise this? People who sell fakes are very likely to sell them as used or second hand, knowing full well that people will be more easily duped into believing that it's authentic. Just because it's used does not mean it's real!
Holograms. Introduced by brands like D&G and Cavalli to help stop counterfeiters copying their goods. Holograms are really effective because they're extremely difficult to reproduce. More about this later, but please don't believe that all D&G clothing has holograms. It's simply not true. Not all D&G and not all Cavalli have holograms. Most do, but not all.
Some people will tell you that fakes (copies, knockoffs, replicas counterfeits) are getting so good that even the professionals have trouble telling the difference. This is nonsense. Fake designer brand knock offs are easy to point out. Read our guide, below.
It's likely, but not conclusive that when eBay sellers have complete size ranges of an item that it is fake. You have to be prudent here because if someone is listing dozens of Boss or Armani suits in all the same design with a range of sizes then yes, they're guaranteed to be fake! However, if someone is listing a load of Juicy jeans or Evisu sets in a range of sizes, it's not the same thing at all! I get back to my point above and reiterate that Boss and Armani suits are not mass produced like Juicy jeans or Evisu sets and aren't often sold in clearance lots. Juicy jeans, Evisu sets and such like are all mass produced and they are quite often sold in clearance lots at the end of a season.
It's not true that eBay sellers cannot be authorised to sell certain products. They can be! We purchase clearance stock to re-sell on eBay Our UK supplier handles the clearance stock from Selfridges, Harrods, Cruise and many other high end outlets. Our supplier consolidates all of their end of season stock into manageable packages which are then distributed to outlets and sold at reduced prices. My supplier has added us to the brand owners list of trusted sellers, this means that if our auctions are reported to them then they can see we're on their list and that our listings are trusted. So, it's another myth that eBay sellers cannot be authorised to sell certain goods. They can be. We are and so are many others!
Pre Purchase Guide.
OK, we all know that not everyone can afford to shop on the Juicy Couture or Dolce & Gabbana website. We are all bargain hungry by nature and that's why we find ourselves trawling through eBay. Right? So you're shopping online and you come across a great deal on designer apparel. How do you know you're getting the real thing and not some cheap knock off from China?
Something to bear in mind is that the bigger the name, the more likely it is to be faked. Counterfeiters want to shift big numbers, so there's little point in counterfeiting barely-known designers whose clothes don't sell as well as the big brands. Bear this in mind.
It can be difficult to spot fakes just by looking at them on eBay as you don't have the physical product in front of you to inspect. In this case, you really have to rely on your best judgement. Here are some things to consider before you purchase:
1. Is the seller using pictures of the authentic item, downloaded from the manufacturers website, or are they using their own photos? Put yourself in the sellers shoes here. If you were selling authentic Dolce & Gabbana or Juicy Couture would you be using photos downloaded from the manufacturers website, or would you be using your own photos with detailed pictures of the tags and labels? Obviously, sellers who take the time and effort to photograph the product they're selling are more likely to be genuine sellers. Sellers using readily available photos pulled from the web are really likely to be selling fakes.
2. Look for detailed, close up pictures of tags, labels, stitching and details. Sellers who are selling real goods are likely to take time out to photograph tags and labels and promote the fact that their goods are authentic. Sellers who use smudged, blurry photos or photos that are less than clear are usually trying to hide something. Authentic sellers have nothing to hide and they will always provide clear, close up photos of the labels, tags and detailing.
3. Continuing on from 2. above, I need to clarify that just because there are pictures of the labels in an ad, doesn't mean it's real. It can also be the case that the seller is 'brass necking' it and taking pictures of fake tags and labels anyway. Fake tags and labels are really easy to spot though. These sellers wont last long on eBay as it's just a matter of time before their found and their accounts are suspended indefinitely.
4. Inspect the photos of the labels and tags. Look for RN numbers inside on the sewn label (Registered Identification Number Database). If these numbers are not clear from the ad, then ask the seller for the RN number. All designer labels sold in the UK and the USA have their own range of RN numbers. The RN can be traced back to an individual business, the manufacturer, distributor or retailer and even to the exact item. Thanks to the registration program run by the Federal Trade Commission, the data search should return an address or phone number (or both) and you can contact the manufacturer or retailer from that point.
5. It's usually the case that people selling fakes on eBay are not the most intelligent of sorts. Their ads tend to look amateurish with lots of html, flashing banners and big bold fonts with formatting that looks childish. These people tend to overkill the terms "100% authentic", "100% genuine" and other enticing adjectives. They think that the more they tell you it's real, the more you'll believe it. Honestly, you can spot these ads a mile off. If the goods are genuine then they will be showing you close up pictures of the tags, labels, details and RN numbers! As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.
The above few points are generalised statements and are not brand specific. It does become much easier to spot fakes if you're looking for common, brand specific blunders. Accordingly, we've taken some time to write a few brand specific guides.
How to Spot Fake Boss and Armani Suits.
This is an easy one. All fake Armani and Boss suits coming in from China will have monogrammed inside linings and monogrammed buttons. The easiest way to tell a fake suit! Real Boss and real Armani suits, NEVER emboss the lining and the buttons are NEVER embossed with the company logo. There are other ways to spot fake suits of course, but this is the easiest way to tell because ALL of the fake suits from China are monogrammed. As easy as that really, but there are other signs too. Fake care labels will be littered with spelling mistakes and contradictions. 90% wool and 10% polyester is the normal on fake labels, but it's just never seen on real designer suits. The cardboard hang tags are easy to tell apart too. On Boss for example, the big BOSS will line up perfectly with the little HUGO BOSS below it. On fake tags the don't line up.
How to Spot Fake Juicy Couture.
There are a few good guides out there on Juicy gear, but all of them neglect to mention that All Juicy Couture clothing has RN numbers on the care label. All Juicy Couture RN Numbers begin with RN929xxx. If you ask the seller for the RN number on the care label and they don't answer with RN929 something then it's fake! There are other ways to tell but this is the most reliable. If the care label is missing though, then look at the length of the inseam (always 32" in fakes and generally 34" in authentic items). The quality on real Juicy Couture is the real proof though. Authentic Juicy is absolutely fantastic quality with an absolutely perfect fit. Fakes are cheap and nasty and the fit is generally far too tight. All Juicy Couture Clothing tags are colour coded according to size. (XL; Light Blue), (L; - Green), (M; - Beige), (S; - Orange), (P - Pink). Another easy way to spot a fake is that they mostly all have orange labels, regardless of the size.
How to Spot Fake Evisu Jeans.
First under no circumstances should the selvedge on any Evisu jeans be missing. The selvedge is the stitching on the inside along the lining of the pants leg. All Evisu jeans have double stitched inseams and they come in three different quality ranges; No.1 (the best denim Evisu make); No.2 and; No.3 (the lowest quality jeans that Evisu make). You can see these numbers on the tag/brown patch on the back right side of the jeans. The buttons of Evisu jeans all say Evisu. If you happen to see one with the godhead/Buddha man then it is fake. All men's Evisu jeans come with five button fly, so if you see one with a zipper then it is fake. In summary:
1) Evisu Genes all have 5 buttons.
2) The selvedge must be shown in pictures when one is selling Evisu Genes.
3) The Evisu sign/gulls must be surrounded by thick, double stitching.
4) Most Evisu have two toned stitching colours.
5) Inside of the leg at the bottom should be red and white stitching.
6) Inside of the jeans should have a label saying 'Japon'.
7) Take a white damp cloth and rub against jeans and colour shouldn't fade.
8) Buttons only, no zip fly on Evisu jeans whatsoever.
How to Spot Fake Burberry.
Authentic Burberry patterns always match up on the sides and on the bottom of your item. If you have a handbag where there is a different pattern on the sides of the purse, it's a fake, as each side of an authentic Burberry is identical to the other. Fakers use inexpensive versions of the embossed leather or metal tag that authenticates Burberry products. All Burberry wallets will have, 'Burberry-London' embossed on the left side. Hardware will only ever be gold or silver toned on authentic Burberry. The hardware will always be neatly embossed with the word, 'Burberry'. Just like other name brands, look on the company's website and scrutinise the item you're interested in to check for flaws and signs of fraud.
How to Spot a Fake COACH Bag.
On authentic COACH bags, the pattern will never be crooked and all of the stitching will be absolutely uniform perfect. All larger COACH bags have a number stamped onto the inside, with each numeral leaving a slight depression. Fakes will either omit the serial number or will just paint numbers onto the leather without creating an indentation into the fabric. The signature "CC" design will NEVER be on both the inside and the outside of an authentic COACH product. If your COACH item doesn't have the microscopic letters "YKK," embossed into the zipper, then it is counterfeit.
How to Spot a Fake Louis Vuitton.
Many fakes can easily be figured out simply by checking to see if that particular style was ever made in the colour it is available in. Often, counterfeiters choose to create their own patterns and colour combinations, a quick Internet search will help you figure out what is and isn't fake. Next, before handing over hundreds of pounds, make sure that every single detail on the bag you're about to buy is also on the bag in actual department stores. Fakes often have extra feet, a different lining and other details that are not quite right. Authentic LV handbags go through a rigorous quality check, so if stitching and patterns are remotely off, then it's a guaranteed fake. Also, Louis Vuitton products will NEVER go on sale in a reputable department store it just doesn't happen, so buyer beware if a seller suggests that they are able to offer it at such a low price because they got it on sale, they are lying.
Post Purchase Guide.
Once you get an item in the post, it will not be hard to tell if it's fake. You're now able to inspect it physically and there quite simply is no comparison. Fakes look very cheap because they are cheap. Authentic clothing is always heavy, high quality material and the workmanship id always of an extremely high standard. Fakes are thin and flimsy, made from inferior fabric and usually they are easy to prise apart at the seams due to poor quality stitching. Here are the things you should be looking for after you receive your goods:
1. Many of the Chinese knockoffs come in plastic packaging with the company logo printed on the outside. This is usually a sign that it's fake, but not always. If your goods arrive in packaging like this then it should make you question the authenticity immediately. Juicy Couture NEVER comes in such packaging, but fakes pretty much always do. Exceptions to this rule are Evisu, who do tend to ship their garments in this type of packaging.
2. One of the biggest giveaways of fake designer clothing is the material the product is made from. Nearly all fakes are cheaply made using low cost, inferior fabrics and cheap labour. Examine the garment and look in detail at the stitching. Poor quality is always apparent in the fine details. The stitching on a designer item will always be superior. The stitching in cotton garments will will match the fabric and in most instances you shouldn't even be able to see it. After all, that's what design is all about. Examine the inside of the garment. Where you can see it, the stitching should be tight and even, something you simply won't find on the fakes, where quality is far less important than quantity.
3. The proof is in the pudding as they say. Try the garment on! Fakes are pretty much always small made. If you've bought a size S and been sent a size M then something is not right! If the garment feels tight or the fit is weird then it's likely a fake! Counterfeiters have real difficulty reproducing the professional cut and fit of designer brands and fakes will always fit badly. This is particularly noticeable in jeans and trousers where the inseam trends to be far too short and the waist is too tight compared to normal garments of the same size range. Sleeves tend to be too short and the fit generally is poor. These are the things that counterfeiters just cannot master.
4. Look inside the garment at the care label where you will find an RN number (Registered Identification Number Database). If these numbers are not present, something is amiss. All designer labels sold in the UK and the USA have their own range of RN numbers. The RN can be traced back to an individual business, the manufacturer, distributor or retailer and even to the exact item. Thanks to the registration program run by the Federal Trade Commission, the data search should return an address or phone number (or both) and you can contact the manufacturer or retailer from that point.
What to do if you find you've been landed with a Fake.
Sellers who trade in fake merchandise of any kind risk prison sentences and asset seizure. It is a serious crime and it is frowned upon more and more these days by the courts. Sentences of 6 years are not uncommon in these cases!
In the UK, contact Trading Standards at email@example.com giving details of the item number, seller ID and contact information (both yours and the sellers). Trading standards will generally be back in touch within a day. They do act quickly where fakes are concerned as there is a lot of hype right now since judges have been making examples of fakers with lengthy prison sentences.
In the USA, dial 1-800-report-a-fake (1-800-737678-2-3253)
On eBay, Go to "report this item" at the bottom of the listing you want to report and email eBay to address the problem. If you have any concern about being scammed please get involved! Take action!
Also, in the UK, if you unknowingly purchase fake designer clothing then you are protected through the ‘Distance Sellers Act’. You have 7 days to return the goods without penalty (full refund). Also if you use your credit card you can request your card issuer to do a cash back as the products was not accurately described. Similarly, if you paid via Paypal then you are able to report a claim and get a full refund from Paypal.
It used to be easy to spot fakes but it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference. As the factories and technological advancements in China become more and more modern, they are also getting better and better at ripping off big brand names. If you're not wise to it then you really have to be very careful. However, if you read this guide then you will be much less likely to be duped.
As stated, eBay has an appalling reputation for fakes. eBay were recently sued for millions by the brand owners of D&G, Armani and others. They fought out a long law suit and argued that eBay is just a forum through which people sell and that eBay have no real control over what items their users are listing. However, the judge seen it differently and ruled that eBay were not doing everything reasonable to prevent the misuse of their forum. It was ruled that eBay could do more to prevent the sale of fakes on their site. Accordingly, and millions of dollars in fines later, eBay have decided that they do need to take action. It is now harder for counterfeiters to list their goods, but not impossible. So, the truth is that whilst the volume of fakes on eBay has vastly reduced, the percentage remains much the same.
If you're buying from eBay, check the seller's feedback carefully before bidding, and pay with a credit card or PayPal. If the item proves not to be the real thing, you then have recourse to get your money back.
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