Black Market Fashion by Borrow the Catwalk
Fashion Article Posted July 8, 2010

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The argument used to be whether buying knock offs was a fashion faux pas, but the issue has evolved and expanded.  It's no longer about lost profits or maintaining the brand's image; it's about the protection of human rights and intellectual property.

Although purchasing knocks offs is not illegal, counterfeiting itself is illegal and purchasing counterfeit products supports illegal activity.  According to the International Anti Counterfeit Coalition, counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses $200 billion to $250 billion annually. Counterfeiters do not pay taxes which means less money for your city's schools, hospitals, parks and other social programs.  The IACC also states that counterfeit merchandise is directly responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs.

Unfortunately, approximately 5%-7% of the world trade is in counterfeit goods, which results in U.S. companies suffering $9 billion in trade losses due to international copyright piracy.  Counterfeiting also poses a threat to global health and safety because merchandise does not meet federal safety regulations.
If these facts and figures aren't persuasive enough then consider this, counterfeiters do not pay their employees fair wages or benefits, they have poor working conditions, and often use child and slave labor. The profits from counterfeiting have been linked to funding organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorist activity.  Purchasing a knock off perpetuates the cycle of counterfeiting and your money directly supports activities you advocate against.

Counterfeiting runs rampant because it is fueled by consumer demand, so do your part and educate others about the impact of buying knock offs.  Of course you should avoid buying knock-offs yourself, but if you do find yourself wondering whether that $20 "Hermes" scarf is the real deal remember the basics:

There are dozens of blogs and websites that explain the ins and outs of designer items and what to watch out for when you're not buying from an authorized vendor.  Every detail down to the spaces between the letters of the logo and the number of stitches used is important.

Check for a care label on the inside of garments, or a serial number on sunglasses, handbags, and other accessories.  Vintage items may not have an identification number, however most authentic garments and accessories will have a proper label regardless of the era in which it was produced.

Designer items are crafted by artisans and are made to last, so inspect the item closely for quality.  This is tricky with online shopping so read the fine print closely.  If it says "inspired by" or anything of the sort then do not buy it.  Sometimes counterfeit vendors will go overboard to stress the item's "authenticity", so be wary.

Designer garments, shoes, and accessories come with dust bags, boxes, garment bags and/or authentication information.   If your item doesn't come with any of these extras, then it is probably a fake.  However, counterfeiters are now making replicas of these items as well, so inspect for quality just as you would a dress or handbag.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Trust your instincts, if it's shady, forget about it.

For more information check out these resources:

The above article was provided to Apparel Search by Borrow the Catwalk.

International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition : The touchstone of the IACC's mission is to combat counterfeiting and piracy by promoting laws, regulations and directives designed to render the theft of intellectual property undesirable and unprofitable. The IACC serves as an umbrella organization, offering anti-counterfeiting programs designed to increase protection for patents, trademarks, copyrights, service marks, trade dress and trade secrets.

Learn about the Anit-counterfeiting Trade Agreement

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