Samantha Van – May 17 2005
And it’s not just first time “luxury” customers getting duped. Though both Claudia and Jen had bought real designer bags before, they both fell victim to the seductive and unethical merchandising on eBay as well as other sites.
Nonetheless, fakes will continue to flourish. People will want, albeit unable or unwilling to pay for, the status associated with luxury goods. Everyone wants something coveted, with celebrity endorsement [such as Mischa Barton of TV show The OC introducing Chanel bags to countless teens both on and off screen] only enhancing the speciality that possession brings to ordinary life, Claudia said.
“It’s so worth it! I have to part with the money. It’s a bargain!” Claudia gushed like a true shopaholic.
Money isn’t the whole picture. Nor is it always about “buying into” a decreasingly elite group as designers focus on accessories – which are more affordable and easier to show off – to boost their bottom lines. “I find the thrill of purchasing the fake bag more illicit [than buying real which annoyed her boyfriend] because it is illegal (albeit for sellers, not buyers in Australia). Let’s face it, it brings out the bad girl in me and I get the facade of being a prim and proper woman.”
On the other hand, designers themselves inadvertently fuel the fakes market. Anne, 41, a Quantitative Analyst bought an “inspired” version of the Balenciaga Motorcycle Le Dix – currently the bag to have – as a last resort. “I was sick of waiting, searching, etc, and I agreed with some of the shopkeepers who complained about designers creating [a] frenzy for their products by hyping them not having anything to sell!” she added.
“If I didn’t have to go a waiting list, and the bag was there on the shelf ready for me to buy, I would have paid full price for the original. I would have preferred for this to happen” Anne emphasised. “There’s nothing like an original! So luxurious!”
Counterfeiters profit at a cost to society. Contrary to popular belief, buying counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime. Besides ripping off designers through copyright infringement and thus contributing to lost sales, buying fakes supporting other crimes that are far from petty.
Such as terrorism. The head of Interpol has testified that profits from rip off bags had funded Al Qaeda terrorist operations. Hard to swallow, isn’t it? Claudia doesn’t believe it. “It’s made in China. They’re not made in Taiwan or Indonesia.” But her shaky voice and explanation of her reasoning betray uncertainty.
As reports uncover the web of crime, it’s disturbing to hear that “nothing like this entered my mind” for Jen.
Supporting sweatshop child labour is another consequence. “So many things are outsourced to overseas there days, it’s so hard to know how something is produced…I don’t know how this can be traced!” Anne thinks. “The Harper’s Bazaar article [April 05] regarding fakes funding terrorism, child labour, etc was a bit alarming to me, but I had to question the magazine’s motives for publishing that article.”
Clearly, people don’t want to support terrorism and child labour. Who could blame someone for wanting luxury, albeit paying less for that illusion? Education is the key to fighting fakes.