Authenticating Designer Apparel & Handbags, Here We Go Again

Regarding my previous post about Diesel jeans, I read the forum I link to and saw a quote there which I want to address here.

When you, yes you, want to know how to authenticate merchandise the most common advice you get is to take your product to the store (as in the company store, taking a Louis Vuitton to a Louis Vuitton store or even a Neiman Marcus) to have it authenticated.

I think it is a gross misconception that store sales staff are generally well versed in authenticating items. Even then, an exclusive retail store has a vested interest in refusing to authenticate items that were purchased outside of their authorized distribution channels. I know a couple people who, as a test, took authentic items into stores, said they purchased them from eBay and got vastly different reaction from sales personnel. MANY companies outright refuse to authenticate items.

I even know of some people who received a blatant “if you didn’t get it from our stores, it is not authentic” from sales personnel who are now allowed to provide authentication of items.

Some companies will authenticate at the corporate level, but I think it’s a misconception to expect consistent authentication from store personnel. By corporate level, I mean, that there are *some* companies who will allow you to send an item to their corporate office (usually this is the legal department, large companies have specific legal staff to deal with trademarks and counterfeit items) and they will authenticate it. They usually *will not* tell YOU how to spot counterfeit items, which is why most information regarding that comes primarily from avid consumers

If you are unsure about the authenticity of an item, do not buy it. Wholesale or retail. Because if you take a counterfeit to be authenticated and it is, in fact counterfeit, they can confiscate it. You can very well lose either way.

And let me say this for the record because I know everyone doesn’t read the archives. COUNTERFEIT MERCHANDISE IS ILLEGAL. If you “copy the style” of an item, this is considered a knock off, and while it is typically a violation of copyright protection, it usually is something of little consequence. When you take a trademark and apply it to a product which is not allowed to bear that trademark, you are counterfeiting and that is a violation of Federal Law. I say this because people use the terms “knock off” and “counterfeit” interchangeably and they are not the same thing.

If I make a pair of sweats that look just like Juicy, I’m knocking them off, the minute I put a “Juicy Couture” label in them, I’m breaking the law.