If you've ever been to China Town you've had your chance to own a Louis Vuitton or Prada handbag at a fraction of the cost. On one such trip to the New York China Town, I was invited into a Hitchcock-style secret door that opened to a shadow-shifting room filled with designer goods: LV, Miu Miu, Tom Ford, Bottega, Gucci, you name it.
"Same same, but different," says a short hunched Asian lady peering up through trifocals.
As others approach, she takes the bags back and scurries into another hidden passage, as if the cops might actually be oblivious to the situation.
If counterfeiting were legal, it would be the single largest industry in the world, generating billions of dollars annually in everything from fake wines to phone cases. In the EU, France and Italy in particular, it's a crime to simply carry a fake. If you're caught, you could have it confiscated and even face a fine or jail time. Lends a new meaning to Fashion Police, doesn't it?
New York is following suit and cracking down on illicit merchandise by proposing a new bill to fine people carrying the sketchy LVs a whopping $1000 with the threat of arrest. Let me enunciate that both of these laws are not for people buying, but for people carrying them. It doesn't matter if you bought it; don it an you're on the hook.
A great resource we readily endorse is the website authenticatefirst.com, which provides authentication services for a litany of designer labels. Their services extend beyond providing peace of mind, however, helping you with online purchases as well. A few of their services include:
1. Post sale evaluation - After a bag is in your possession and you would like to have the peace of mind or are looking to sell it.
2. Pre-sale evaluation - You are not the seller and have not yet purchased. They can look at an auction, private sale, consignment or website purchase and let you know before you buy whether or not it's authentic.
3 - Extract Statement - This service is available for PayPal or Credit Card claims for items such as jewelry, clothing, wallets, key chains, shoes, etc. Paypal has changed their policy and any disputes regarding authenticity must have a statement of non-authenticity from an independent, unbiased 3rd party on company letterhead with contact information.
You, the shopper and wearer, have a personal responsibility to make sure your goods are authentic so that you do not blindly benefit from the child labor and lost wages that prop up this subversive industry.