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The Italian bag makers association, AIMPES and the luxury leather goods giant LVMH together with Google will intensify their war on counterfeit products sold in the street and online recent media reports have revealed. The China Leather Industry Association (CLIA) is also looking to tackle this problem in China.
According to AIMPES, in Italy more than 50% of imitation products are sold than the genuine products. This is alarming.
How can this war be won? When we look at the reality, makers, sellers and buyers of these fake products seem quite happy with what they are doing. And as long as there is a profit in it there will always be people who will make these products. For example, on many street markets in Spain fake versions of all the big brands are openly present while the police walk around and do nothing. They have other things on their mind such as theft, drugs, etc. In France, you see more Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags for sale at the exit of schools and colleges than carried by high-society at the opera in Geneva.
There are many more people who can afford a €50 bag than those who can afford a €500 or a €5000 bag! Spending €50 on a branded bag with a big name, leaves money for drinks and drugs while showing off in the night club or on the beach. This is raw street reality that we just cannot ignore.
All the arguments put forward by the producers of the genuine products are correct but they do not seem to affect or stop many ordinary people from buying the fake goods. They could not care less about whether it is full aniline leather or about the potential loss of employment in the leather goods industry or the quality of the stitching made by craftsmen with 50 years of experience.
And by the way, most of these fake products are still made of real leather. Low or medium quality (and not always low grades). Probably made in China or North Africa but real leather still. And....thus in the end good for the leather industry producing low and medium qualities which in volume terms is many times higher than the number of tanners making top quality articles for the ‘luxury’ brands.
The brands are losing out because of this illegal, annoying and costly practice. They have the law and all the rights on their side and so they should. But let’s be honest, they do not seem to be doing that badly either despite all the fakes on the market.
Personally, I have no idea how to tackle this problem. When interviewed in the street, consumers will always say that they appreciate and prefer quality. But if the price for a real quality product is 10 or even 100 times higher and the difference hard to see from a distance and for your average consumer, then everything changes! The price difference is just too large to resist the temptation to go for the imitation.