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Fake purses -- where do you stand?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion - Ask Questions Get Answers' started by Jonathan, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    In light of the French ruling against eBay as a venue responsible for the sale of fake Hermes purses. I would be interested in hearing other's viewpoints on what they think would be morally right in a situation like this. I have always contended that inspired copies were never a problem -- after all, that is what fashion is all about. However, if the intent is to represent the original or dupe the buyer or seller into thinking they have a real Chanel/Gucci/Hermes etc. then the line has been crossed.

    However, should a venue be charged with selling such an item when they don't know? Should the law be applied to eBay? To an antique mall or Flea market owner? The Goodwill? The Bible Society Thrift Store that raises money for the eradication of leprosy? Where do you cross the line? Again, intent is where I draw the line. If I find a fake LV purse at the local thrift store for $2.00 I am not going to accuse them of selling a forgery. However, if I find that same purse at an antique mall with a $200.00 price tag on it and a note on the tag that says 'authentic', then I will bring that to the attention of the owner of the antique mall and suggest they pull it (which I have done). However, on a venue like eBay where there is a nebulous mid-ground of rules that don't always apply equally to all sellers and relies on fellow users to police others, how much do you hold them accountable for what their clients say and sell?

    Is the line perhaps between new and used? I find it amazing that Time's Square and the Lower East Side of Manhattan is littered with street vendors of brand new fake purses. I don't know if they are ever charged but I have seen cops walk right by these vendors who very carefully never say their merchandise is real. The intent of the manufacturer of these brand new forgeries is to fool buyers, even though an expert can quickly identify real from fake bags, an LV printed bag in the signature colours is too close the real thing to argue it is an inspired copy. I know its been said that buying such an item fuels terrorism, maybe it does and maybe it doesn't -- we aren't talking about the manufacture of these, which is in the Far East. Obviously it is the manufacture of these bags that should be controlled through stringent trade laws but this is not happening.

    So what say you? Where do you draw the line?
    SHould someone be punished who happens to buy and sell a used forgery or copy of a high end fashion bag? Should the venue (eBay, antique mall, thrift store) be held accountable? And where is the line between inspired copy and outright forgery?

    I would be interested in hearing what others have to say.
  2. BagDiva

    BagDiva Guest

    what about that old chestnut,' ignoranti non excusat'...(l failed latin!) ignorance is not an excuse in law..so if l dont know l'm speeding, smoking dope, not paying taxes..etc...why am l sued, cos its the law...

    but l do bend that a bit...

    I have sold a copy of a colourful hermes bag l bought as kosher on ebay..l sold it at a fair, telling the buyer it was a copy and l was happy to get my £££ back at no profit...and she was happy too. ok so hermes lost out... some may say they didnt cos, l couldnt buy a real one...unless it pops up at tK maxx

    I dont have a problem with the copies that abound in the east...we KNOW they are copies...l think its for the manufacturers to sue if they can be arsed...they make loads of ££ anyway...but l guess that is wrong...and l am 'wrong'...

    but its double sided.... l actually dont mind people using MY pics from ebay or my words....as long its the same item they are selling...its flattering, as my grammar isnt that great nor are my pics...

    l dont think l'm anwsering you properly jonathan....

    yes l would buy a good fake dior, chanel, etc if l was out east...
    yes l would tell anyone who asked that is was a fake, but l wouldnt shout it out as l would be breaking the law...

    lve bought a hermes and a gucci scarf in a charity shop.for 50p...will l ever know if they are real? should l have said hey you cant sell this?? its fake? or this is a hermes maybe, you should sell this on ebay for 150££...was l right or wrong?

    l just try to be upfront as possible by telling what I KNOW.....I dont list illegally or l try not to....

    a case in point, a pal listed a leopard fur coat, the police unit who watch ebay in essex, phoned my pal to say they would be down to collect the item and took it of ebay. They drove 300 mile round trip to look at a coat, to establish if my pal could show its provenance being from pre 1947...if she oculd she could keep it but not sell it on without a licence..if she oculdnt then THEY would impound it, and possibly sue her £1000's for breaking the law selling a post '47 fur coat and not having a license....and she DID NOT KNOW THE LAW...so wa she wrong..YES lawfully she was...

    but you and l wouldnt charge her....

    l could go on and on...

    its a GREY area...
  3. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    I agree Sara - it is a grey area, and one for which there is no right or wrong answer. That is why I am asking the question - to see what scope of responses we get. Could a dairy farmer sue a margarine company for copying butter? Could someone sell an LV printed brown and cream canvas bag but label it 'I can't believe its not Vuitton'? Its all food for thought!
  4. TresChic

    TresChic Registered Guest

    I agree with Jonathan's first post- that it is okay to sell a fake ata a low price....however when a customer is duped into believing it is authentic and sold it at a high price---that is dishonest in my opinion, and not something I approve of.

    I have never bought a fake bag- because I wouldn't enjoy it knowing it wasn't the real thing. Nor will it be of high quality or have as nice an appearance- and that is why I would buy a designer bag.....
  5. BagDiva

    BagDiva Guest

    IS there a butter like spread over there, as there is here, called ' l cant believe its not butter'?

    ...and it isnt at all...LOL
  6. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    Yes, that was the intended irony in my statement! (and no it doesn't taste like butter -- it tastes like whipped water and lard)
  7. Speaking of butter, Quebec is the only place in the world where it is illegal (yes, illegal) to sell coloured margarine to look like butter.

    I have to go to the dentist and will read more carefully and weigh in again later, but I think eBay was warned of sellers selling fakes in this instance (yes?). Selling on line as opposed to malls etc. is quite different because the latter is a tactile experience and the buyer is at least able to handle and see the product before purchasing.
  8. AnyDayNow

    AnyDayNow Registered Guest

    It is never okay to sell a fake anything whether it is new or used. These are illegal items and you can be arrested for selling them. Organized crime is behind the making and distribution of fake handbags, fake drugs, fake everything and to buy or sell any of these items is to be involved with what goes on behind the scenes. Here is a very good and very informative show on fake items made by National Geographic.


    It goes into depth about the hows and whys of this illegal trade. It includes money laundering, mafiosa types, violence, underage workers, etc, etc. Maybe if you arm yourself with knowledge the next time you have a chance to purchase or sell a fake you will think twice about doing so. It is not as innocent as it seems on the surface.
  9. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    So, would you tell the people at the local thrift shop that the LV vinyl bag for $2.00 in their purse bin is funding the Mafia?
  10. AnyDayNow

    AnyDayNow Registered Guest

    "Many people think of counterfeiting solely in terms of knock-off brand handbags or pirated DVDs and dismiss it as essentially harmless, victimless crime. But the global supply chains formed to produce and distribute such merchandise are the very same channels that can (and do) carry much more dangerous items: drugs, weapons, fake pharmaceuticals, knock-off car and airline parts, etc."

    China is the major distributor of these fake items - it accounts for a large part of their economy and terrible conditions for those that work within this market.
  11. AnyDayNow

    AnyDayNow Registered Guest

    Yes I do tell the people at the local thrifts when the items are fakes and that they should not be selling them and why. I also tell them when they have furs that are made from animals on the endangered list and that they should not be selling them and why. I have a conscience and when I tell them I never do it in a hurtful way but hopefully in an educational way.
  12. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    China has also and continues to make legitimate items with the same labour force of underpaid and child workers. So there is no difference there.
  13. AnyDayNow

    AnyDayNow Registered Guest

    Well Jonathan, I do suggest that you read the book Illicit, by Dr. Moisés Naím and then you can draw your own conclusion.
  14. ivycompany

    ivycompany VFG Member

    Counterfeit purses would never be manufactured if there wasn't a huge demand for fake status items. Which makes absolutely no sense at all to me. I never have understood the desire to carry a fake bag. The importance of logo flashing has become bizarrely inflated in the last 20 years. What are the women who carry these bags saying to the world?
    "Look at me! I'm too poor/cheap to be able to afford the real luxury items covered with logos (free advertising for status brands) so I'll just carry a knockoff (covered with the same ads) and shout out to the world that I'm cheap/poor but wish I were higher up on the consumer food chain!"
    Aren't there more important things? I've never, not since I began to purchase my own clothing, considered by body to be free advertising space, and I'm making sure my daughter sees the implications too.
    So aside from what I think of all the fake bags walking around, I also have a low tolerance for folks who sell them, and ebay is no exception. They have known for years about the abundance of counterfeit goods on their site but decided long ago that it was easier and more profitable to do nothing than to take the stand that it would not be tolerated. I think they got off cheap with the recent judgement considering how much they've made over the years for their cut of all the fakes.
    And I'm another one who tells the local thrift stores when their bags are counterfeit, no matter how cheaply they're priced. I have a brick-and-mortar consignment store and will not sell fake bags, even though my competition across town is making a pretty penny selling them (she's a "distributor.")
  15. vertugarde

    vertugarde Alumni

    As far as prosecuting a vendor is concerned then 'intent" is where I draw the line.

    While copies of designer goods have been around for years today, organised crime is behind the making of most of the fake goods and you are funding whoever it may be - and that includes terrorist groups.

    Imitation is not the best form of flattery. No designer is happy to have their work copied. It's not just the huge, successful companies that are being ripped-off. Designers, illustrators and artists are having their work copied and are being exploited.

    AnyDayNow has it right, 'It is never okay to sell a fake anything whether it is new or used." It is a moral question when the implications extend to "follow the money."

    "Children are paid as little as £10 a week and working up to 18 hours a day. Since their fingers are small, they are better at the intricate stitching that makes fake designer items look so convincing." Read more;

  16. I don't think ebay does enough to stamp out the counterfeits.. a girl I work with is always buying Vuitton and Gucci wallets and purses on ebay and asking me if I think they're genuine - I do try and tell her that for £30 (average of what she pays) they're not going to be the real thing.... seriously, one Vuitton copy I inspected had half the zip hanging off!
  17. Catbooks1940s

    Catbooks1940s VFG Member

    ^ what she said.

    i too have at times politely informed managers of consignment shops, thrift shops, antique malls when they have been selling handbags i know to be fakes.

    yes, i DO think they have a responsibility to know if they are real or not before offering them for sale. the amount of profit does figure in somewhere with me. even at the thrifts, they are not offered for $2, more like $100+.

    i also don't get this absolute *frenzy* over designer bags, counterfeits or the real thing, that drives this issue.
  18. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    I don't buy fakes for myself and I don't sell them.

    When I visit or see a vendor ( internet or brick and mortar) who does sell them, it 's a real turn off, and I almost always leave the shop. ( I also leave when I find label switching)

    There's designs that are inspired by, but no intent to deceive, i.e. clearly and permanently labeled, which I have no problem with. Derivative, but ethical design. An homage if you will.

    There are out and out copies, but still clearly labeled as by the copier. Legal, but Lazy design, and unoriginal. Victor Costa did this alot.

    And then there's the counterfeits/fakes which I can't stand.

    Ebay has been terrible about this. Chanel is a pain about legit references to their style, but I can understand their efforts at controlling 'fake' Chanels.

    I am surprised it has taken other big major labels this long to get Ebay into court.

    And no, I don't think secondhand makes it any better. If they are pricing it at $2, they know it's fake.

    Design Theft with intent to defraud the customer is bad enough, but when you add any combination of the following:

    child labor
    poor wages
    poor working conditions
    ties to crime/terrorism

    It's just one big bad picture.

  19. Jonathan

    Jonathan VFG Member

    I thought this was a grey topic area that would encourage discussion but I am a little taken aback by the absolute resolve in some responses. I guess I could have gotten more middle ground discussion on the topic of gay marriage! lol -- It seems fake handbags brings out feelings as strong as anti-smoking, anti-Bush, or anti-abortion!

    I was not intending to bring up the manufacture and sale of modern designer knock-offs as a tangent to the discussion on the resale of vintage knock-offs. The production of legitimate goods in the Far East is scandalous and it is entirely possible that workers who make knock-offs on overtime might be better off than when they make legitimate goods on regular wages. This situation is a matter for the governments, designers, manufacturers, unions, trade commissions, customs, and the police to resolve.

    My post was more about resale vintage knock-offs. We all see them - Louis Vuitton shoulder bags for a couple of bucks at the local thrift store. Usually rendered in vinyl with coarse stitching and the pattern pieces cut right through the LV insignia, or Chanel purses with goldtone metal chain handles that flake or tarnish and lambskin bags with crinkly vinyl linings. It used to be these knock-offs weren't really considered threats - they were just a bit of cheap fun. The companies they were copying weren't worried because the people who bought the $30.00 knock-offs couldn't afford the real thing. I even knew women who had the real thing but also had knock-offs for daily use to save the wear and tear of the real things. The knock-off market in the 70s & 80s wasn't in a panic -- High Anxiety, a Mel Brooks film had Madeline Kahn in an LV print suit with LV print sunglasses, shoes, and hat, with LV print luggage, and an LV print cadillac -- the vulgarity of brand recognition as a status symbol was being made fun of even then -- and that movie came out in 1977!

    But something happened in the 90s and everyone got so serious about the whole topic of designer labels and suddenly knock-offs became evil. Maybe its because the manufacturers of the knock-offs began to aggresively seek the up market and closed the gap in quality between the fakes and real McCoy's? But the reaction to knock-offs is not unlike the reaction to liquor during prohibition -- bathtub gin may have been supporting the mafia but most people drank anyway... Maybe the best thing to do is legalize the copies and thereby take away its power. Those who know what the difference is between the real and fake know the difference and they would prefer to pay the real money. Fake bags are for the Nouveau Riche, and by the time this recession ends, there probalby won't be any of them left anyway! lol

    PS: BELIEVE ME -- I am the LAST person to be supporing eBay about this...
  20. vertugarde

    vertugarde Alumni

    The 90's were driven by a spending boom, borrowed money and the start of what we now know as the 'cult of celebrity.' The status attributed to owning an expensive handbag, jeans or whatever became the aspiration for a generation who wanted to buy into the dream. I'm not sure the knock-offs became evil they just made the gap between the have's and have-not's even greater.

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