Are you buying fake goods? How to spot counterfeit {8 warning flags}

how to spot fake goods

Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, but imitation is least appreciated in business, especially fashion industry. It only leads to loss to the original and there is a humungous illegal business benefiting from imitation – selling counterfeit goods.

The value of imported fake goods worldwide was reported to be US Dollar 461 billion in 2013 as per this website – and since then there has been a massive increase in counterfeits all over the world. Intellectual property laws do not do much as protection against all these mass-produced low-quality products and most of the counterfeits, knock-offs, replicas, and copies proliferate in the market due to lax laws and lazy border checks of many countries. 

In the fashion industry which includes, clothing, fabric, bags, shoes, and watches there are a lot of fake goods circulating and for many reasons people buy them, willingly as well as unwillingly. If you want to avoid buying counterfeit goods, here are the things to look out for.

Warning flag: Huge discounts or price cut

If a discount deal sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. If the price difference is too much from the original product, do not consider it as your good fortune. Buying imitation products is not worth your time, money or conscience.

When you are looking for deals, and you find websites that offer great discounts it is your responsibility to ensure that the website is authentic and that they are selling original products.

Some boutiques will make designer knock offs and sell them to you. These knock offs are also called “high street” goods – this refers to replication of designer’s products and selling them to customers at a lesser cost. This is ethically very wrong and the damage cannot be checked unless the customer is aware and willing to avoid them. 

Warning flag: The logo looks slightly different

Read the label carefully – Look out for spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes, or font changes in the brand name, labels, placement of the logo. These are usually visible in the fake products or their packaging. 

There will be a small spelling mistake that you would not notice unless you read it carefully or some tell tale sign that is easy to ignore but noticeable if only you looked.

Warning flag: Some features of the products are different or absent

Watch out for change in special features of a particular brand. Most brands will have special characteristics incorporated into their products which makes them unique. For example, features like a Batwing logo and Arcuate stitching on the back pocket, a tan patch label placed above the right back pocket distinguish Levi’s jeans from other competitors. 

Look out for Trademarks for those brands which have them.

Warning flag: Buying from online sellers with a bad reputation

Online shoppers are more susceptible to buying all kinds of fakes. Counterfeit or unauthorized products are more common in the online marketplace than in retail shops.

First, try to buy from authentic websites. You can buy from the original manufacturer’s website or an authorized dealer’s website.

Even highly reputed online market places have a proliferation of sellers selling imitation goods. Check reviews of the seller you intend to buy from to see whether some customers are mentioning receiving fake products. You can verify the physical address of sellers on google. You have to ensure that you are buying from an approved seller.

If you are shopping online, buy from online market places that have the proper software to weed out listings for fake products. Customers can also report fake product listings and they will be removed.

If you are shopping in retail shops, go and buy from the brands’ authorized shops – not from flea markets and random shops which are not listed as company approved sellers.

Warning flag: Quality issues

You may notice some problems in the quality of a fake product like uneven stitching, stitching coming apart, hardware that does not look top-notch, feel lightweight, pockets and labels coming apart. Zippers may fail soon, the material may not feel and look the same as the original, lining may not be made of good material.

Counterfeit textiles will be plagued with poor colorfastness, low-quality fiber content, and presence of harmful chemicals – Sometimes there is a bad chemical smell because of the chemicals. Fake Leather goods are notorious for this.

Warning flag: The product is causing you discomfort or injury

Some counterfeit products are so badly made that they can cause severe problems – the cosmetics may cause allergies, shoes may bite and cause ankle pain, back problems. These problems may not be visible at first. 

Warning flag: There is no authentic customer care

If you are in doubt about the authenticity of your product, you can call the customer response center of that brand for more information. This can assure you as well as bring awareness about the availability of counterfeit in the market. The brand can take steps to stop unauthorized sites from selling their products.

But if you have purchased from an outside unauthorized seller, they will not be able to help you in replacing a faulty product. Fake products do not come with a customer care guarantee. 

Warning flag: You do not care

Sales lost due to counterfeit goods do immense damage to the economy. But that is not your concern and you really do not care.

But you will when it is your time to be duped. And most people are duped into buying imitation products, at one time or the other

You should be able to keep safety and fairness above acquiring these fake things at a cheap price. You should do everything to ensure that some action is initiated against large-scale counterfeit manufacturing operations that are benefitting at your cost.

Counterfeit goods manufacturing is usually associated with many bad practices like poor labor conditions, child labor, and even organized crime. When you take a stand against counterfeit goods, you are taking a stand for the economy of your country and for the whole world.

Related posts : How to buy things online: 15 questions to ask ; Sustainability in fashion : 7 reasons to follow the bandwagon

6 thoughts on “Are you buying fake goods? How to spot counterfeit {8 warning flags}”

  1. Kolade feyishayo

    I have a small shop but what happened is that my area is very local what can I do to have customers

  2. Agnes Medese Adebiyi

    Please how do I get quality materials for sewing like lining, thread, types of pins, tape rules, tracing wheel, seam ripper, French curve, pant curve, different types of rullers, scissors etc I mean all tools for sewing because the ones I use to buy especially lining are not too good. Then there are some other tools that are not common in Nigeria her. Thank you for your quick response.

    1. Hi Agnes
      I feel your pain. Have you searched in facebook for relevant sewing groups – there will some from your area and the sewists on them will be able to guide you to the right places. Best wishes/

  3. This is wonderful. Thank you. I am a corsetière who had a couple of designs stolen; it gives me a bad reputation when the corset causes injury, or doesn’t last past one wear. My corsets are bespoke, this they are costly, and many who don’t understand the time, effort, and skill, that goes into making a beautifully fitted corset, balk at the price. The usual response is ‘why should I spend a few hundred dollars, when I can get one on eBay for $25!’
    You do get what you pay for. A couple of ladies have come back to me to get bespoke items made, one had a boning steel pierce skin and through her rib cage, just missing her heart!!!
    It didn’t put her off corsetry, it made her realise that the real deal is ultimately the better choice, as a well fitted corset is delight to wear; it should NEVER be painful, or uncomfortable, and it should NEVER cause injuries.

    1. Hi Manja Freyja
      Kudos to you for maintaining your passion in the face of these challenges. A very satisfied customer is enough to spur most of us on. Best wishes.

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