2012 April 18

Fake clothing, bags, DVDs and cigarettes are to be found all over the world, but particularly in established retail locations where students and tourists congregate, such as California. Current confiscations there suggest that the ‘underground economy’ could be costing the state around $8 billion annually. The people making the garments are poorly paid, and the lack of tax paid on them means jobs are not created and local services are not funded. Lose-lose all round.

The goods are often sold in markets or as part of festivals, and a key feature of the new black economy is the creation of ‘second-hand’ counterfeit clothing from brands such as Hilfiger (jeans) and Lacoste (polo shirts) which are less liable to such close inspection as new clothing. Just because it’s not new, doesn’t make it genuine!

And in the UK, fakers are costing the economy, and individuals, a great deal. A recently sentenced man was found to have more than 6,000 fake designer clothing labels in his possession and to be running a factory scale counterfeit operation that was producing several hundred garments a month.

So why not buy a fake? In terms of casual clothing, it can look like a good deal to buy a knockoff pair of jeans or a counterfeit hoodie but in the long term, casual clothing brands work hard to maintain their quality and the longevity of the garments they offer, so cheap versions of top of the range clothing may last no time at all and may warp or twist, fade or even tear where poor quality fabric is placed under stress to match high quality originals. Even if those things don’t happen, counterfeit garments usually collapse very quickly, becoming saggy and bobbly – giving a clear indication that they are not the real thing. While the bargain looks enticing on the market stall, if it doesn’t hold up to continued wear and laundering, it may be an expensive mistake.

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