MSN Money’s Elizabeth Strott takes a stroll down Canal Street and discovers the global consequences of counterfeiting

November 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

In Fake goods: Low prices, big problems, Elizabeth Strott has written a terrific overview of this global epidemic on the MSN Money webpage and it begins with a seemingly innocent trip to Canal Street, a trip many consumers of fake goods have made before. This is where it often begins, the front line of counterfeit sales – the back alleys and vans with tinted windows – where the haggling over knockoffs takes place. It is the perfect point of departure and Strott broadens the scope of her article to illustrate the global reach of fake trade as well as its implications for both sides of the purchase agreement.

Strott quotes Valerie Salembier, publisher of Harper’s Bazaar and founder of the Harper’s Bazaar Anti-Counterfeiting Alliance, on the size of the epidemic as well as easy ways to determine whether goods are authentic or not.

When you buy fake goods, it is never as simple as the handbag or the luggage you walk away with. Strott makes this clear. There are economic repercussions and human rights violations that go unnoticed when you make a small purchase. All those little transactions add up – $650 billion lost each year in legitimate business.

Photo Credit

Valerie Salembier featured in Brandweek magazine

June 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Brandweek’s recent article, “The Fight Against Fakes,” provides a comprehensive survey of the campaign against counterfeiting.

The piece begins by detailing a large bust that took place on February 26 in the early morning and resulted in a haul of $1 million worth of counterfeit goods by the NYPD. While the location – the area known as the “Counterfeit Triangle, which includes Canal, Walker, Baxter and Centre Streets – isn’t a particularly surprising spot for this type of raid to take place, author Robert Klara believes that the size and swiftness of the procedure indicated a new level of seriousness to match the evolving blight. No longer is the fake trade a “localized nuisance.” It has become an “epidemic threat to global trade.”

Bazaar SVP & Publisher Valerie Salembier is featured prominently in the piece as she emphasizes the crucial importance of consumer education in the fight against fake goods.

“Harper’s Bazaar can’t change legislation, but we can do one thing well, and that’s educating consumers. If you don’t tell the end user that this is not a victimless crime, things will never be the same,” said Salembier.

The article attributes the recent surge in counterfeiting to, among other causes, the combination of the recession and digital commerce. During an economic downturn, Klara contends that consumers often desire “more for less.” And, as it becomes easier to purchase phony goods with the relative anonymity of the internet, the “aspirational consumer” who wouldn’t have bought fakes goods under more traditional, back-alley circumstances is now willing to make a purchase.

But all is not lost.

Luxury retailers are responding in creative ways to these new security problems. Beyond the more traditional raids and lawsuits, there has been significant growth in security solutions. Swiss watchmaker Les Cubeurs is a fine example: as recently as April, it introduced a laser-engraved ‘watermark’ onto its watch crystals that, while invisible to the naked eye, helps retailers determine the authenticity of the product and aids manufacturers in tracking counterfeits with regional precision.

Innovations like this are inspiring, but the counterfeiters won’t be easily exhausted. Because they’ll fight to find new routes around these obstacles, we need to continue educating the would-be buyers of sham goods about the consequences of their purchases.

Education is ever the key to our campaign against this abusive practice. We encourage you to learn to spot the differences between an impostor and an authentic piece of craftsmanship and make a change of your own.

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