Why no one is helping you with your apparel business

I get a lot of emails, most of which I ignore. There’s one particular type of email that I get (nearly daily) that irritates me so much that I figure I’d write about it.

This is why no one is helping you:

I am starting an _____ store in ______. I wanted to know what type of brands you could supply me and how can you help?

I’m not helping you and I’m not even replying to help you. When I sold on ebay, there were sellers who would say something like this in thier ads:

If you don’t read what I write in my description, it’s not likely that you’ll read what I write when I answer the question you send me because you don’t respect my time.

When people send me an email, and they clearly don’t get that I don’t actually sell clothing, I don’t respond.

And I’m sure others don’t either. In fact, many of my industry colleagues echo this sentiment. The ones who don’t get what they do tend to be the biggest time wasters.

Now, here’s the other part where you’re wrong: Nobody credible is going to chase you for your business, even if you are well funded (or claim to be). The fact that you’re not reading and you don’t understand how to contact manufacturers is an indicator that you’re unlikely to succeed. Why bother? There’s not enough quality discount designer merchandise on the market. Good jobbers barely have enough merchandise to go around, they don’t really need to hand hold newbies. A scammer will chase you for your business relentlessly because it’s a one shot deal, they need a steady flow of newbies.

Counterfeits Salesman in Downtown Los Angeles Sentenced to Prison

From California Apparel News (apparelnews.net) June 23, 2009
Nearly nine months after federal investigators swooped down and arrested a wholesaler for selling thousands of fake designer goods out of a downtown Los Angeles space, the merchant was sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison.

Mohammed Siddiquee, a 32-year-old from Bangladesh, was in federal court in Orange County, Calif., June 22, where U.S. District Judge James Selma issued the sentence, federal authorities said.

Ronald Cheng, an assistant U.S. attorney in the cyber and intellectual-property crimes section, said the court determined the sentence’s length by affixing a $400,000 value to the more than 10,000 counterfeit items as opposed to calculating what the goods’ value were had they been sold at designer prices.

The handbags, scarves, shoes and hats were being sold under labels such as Chanel, Coach, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Gucci. Also, patches, emblems and hangtags were found bearing the insignia of Coach, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and others.

The sentencing follows a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation last October, when agents received a search warrant and combed through Siddiquee’s business, called Sitara Enterprises, at 830 S. Hill St. “There was an informant who made a purchase from him in 2008 who provided information to us, and that is when the investigation began,” Cheng explained.

The seized items were manufactured in China, came into this country as non-designer goods, and then had emblems and tags affixed to make them look like designer merchandise. They were brought in through the Port of Long Beach, federal authorities said.

“Our investigation determined this individual was supplying vendors throughout the United States, including some individuals who are hosting those purse parties,” said Virginia Kice, an ICE spokesperson. She added the investigation continues, with agents trying to determine which retailers and individuals were selling the faux goods as designer items. “This investigation will go where the evidence leads us,” Kice said, noting that the value of the counterfeit merchandise seized is really in the millions when you consider designer-level pricing.

Even though Siddiquee’s name is similar to the name of one of the suicide bombers involved in the 2005 London bombing of the Underground and a bus that killed 52 people, federal investigators said they do not believe he was associated with any terrorist activities. —Deborah Belgum

I Stand Corrected

(this post is also extremely old)
A moderator of a forum for denim aficionados emailed me the following, and I thought I would share it with you all. For information, but also because the forum looks like a great place.

Before I share his quote, I do want to give you two caveats:

1- Sometimes information I provide becomes dated as things evolve and change
2- Please don’t take this as an invitation to start sourcing products outside of their normal distribution channels. I have to say this because most of the readers of my website and blog, by and large, are people who are planning to buy product in some measurable quantity and resell it. Because of that, I try to keep you on the straight and narrow, not in the gray area. So *just because* there are some Diesel jeans made outside of Italy, doesn’t mean that Pakistanian factory that emailed you with an offer of 1000 pair is legit :)

Saw your blog – as an FYI, there are diesel jeans which are made outside of
italy. Generally speaking, these are the more ‘couture’ lines or denim jeans
which are not a part of the standard ‘denim’ line. I’ve seen jeans on the
rack in diesel stores with microstitched tags which say “Made in Morocco”
and “Made in Romania.” Diesel has manufacturing facilities for other items
in Hong Kong and India, which is why the market for fakes of things which
are made there (shirts, shoes, etc) is much larger than that for jeans. Its
also why you see a lot of fake diesel jeans coming out of asia with tags &
logos which you would ordinarily find on an authentic item from a different
line (eg: tags used only on a jacket used on a pair of jeans).

Here are some pictures of authentic diesel jeans which were made outside of
italy:

http://www.honestforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=3732&start=9

I’m the diesel mod for that forum, and I personally own about 50 pairs of
diesel jeans (along with about a dozen fakes I’ve accumulated over the years
from buying on ebay before I got wise!) and I can vouch for the fact that
some are definately made outside italy. I’ve even seen some Linen Rumbums in
Barney’s NY Coop which were made in India!

FYI :)
Posted by theclothingbroker.com

Authenticating merchandise– how do I know it’s real?

Many people ask me where can they get information on authenticating merchandise. Whether they bought it as a consumer or are looking to resell it, I really can’t help them.

People always say that the companies behind these brands should have an interest in helping people spot counterfeit items, and you might think they should. The truth is, they don’t. No one has an interest in helping people buy outside the normal distribution channels.

Follow me here, if Louis Vuitton provided information on how to spot an authentic Vuitton bag, it would have two consequences:

1- it would encourage consumers to buy outside their normal channels of distribution because they would have confidence in knowing they could tell a fake bag from the real thing and
2- it would give counterfitters more information they could use to make better counterfeit bags

They don’t want either of these. This is why no one helps you out. If you have something you think is fake, the company will authenticate it for you, but if it’s fake, they won’t return it to you because it’s illegal merchandise (and it really is illegal because it’s in violation of trademark law and probably a few other laws as well– I’m not just using the word illegal lightly).

Companies want you to buy from their boutiques and their retailers, not Joe Schmoe on eBay or some jobber. This is why they don’t tell you how to authenticate merchandise. When you get scammed buying counterfeit merchandise, it’s pretty much to bad for you for trying to circumvent our set up. They might go after the source, but no one’s trying to provide restitution to the victim.

Is it Real, Is it Fake?

A lot of people email me asking for help verifying the authenticity of stuff they want to buy. Sometimes even about an eBay auction. I’ve never understood that. If you have doubts about something on eBay, don’t bid, don’t go emailing random website owners asking if you should buy a Louis Vuitton bag that normally sells for $1200 but for some reason is selling on eBay for $300. Chances are, it is fake.

People wonder why he designers don’t publish information on authenticating handbags and apparel and such. Simple: it’s not their business to educate counterfeitters on being better at it by telling them what not to do. Also they don’t want to encourage you to buy outside of their normal distribution channels.

Anyhow, this comes up often when people want to buy something “wholesale.” How do you know if it’s real?

First and foremost, you must be able to trust the person who is selling you the merchandise. There are some jobbers I trust so much that I don’t have to think about what they are selling because I KNOW them to be ethical and honest.

But a lot of problems can be avoided by knowing where something is made. There are people on the internet selling Diesel Jeans made by some special “South American” factory. Diesel Jeans are made in Italy. Show me a pair that you bought in a Diesel store or reputable retailer that has a country of origin label showing that it is made in South American and I will recant.

A friend once had someone call her about a deal on Seven Jeans made in China. Seven Jeans are made in the US. End of story. In fact, many of the hotter contemporary denim brands are made in the US. Blue Cult, Seven, Paper Denim and Cloth, Chip & Pepper, Von Dutch, Citizens of Humanity, yada, yada, all made in the good old USA.

Knowing where something is made saves you a lot of headache. So next time someone in India tells you they make Blue Cult, kiss em goodbye!
Posted by theclothingbroker.com

Scams Are Everywhere

Scams Are Everywhere

This week has been horrifically hectic. To make a very long and gut wrenching story short, there are people out there perpetuating identity theft scams, but they are stealing “company identities” to defraud people.

And fighting this is a very difficult thing to do because the crimes span so many states and jurisdictions that it’s difficult to find a central place to use. To make matters worse, many federal agencies will not act on something until they receive multiple complaints. But the catch 22 is that receiving multiple complaints is unlikely unless hundreds, or thousands, have been victimized. Not everyone complains to the same place, not everyone even files formal complaints at all.

As a citizen, you think that law enforcement will protect you but they don’t always do.

I know that, been down that road before. What I have to my advantage is that I know enough to know when someone is giving me useless advice. I know when someone at ____(insert government agency here)_____ doesn’t know what they are talking about. But most people don’t and then end up running in circles, doing what everyone tells them to do but it’s all wrong.

Speaking to the people who have been victimized, is really an experience. People prey on those who are already in some kind of disadvantaged position. People looking for a job, people with financial problems, it is rarely the well to do that are victimized.

And so I was talking to a friend because I can’t see how so many people would fall for this scam. There are many variations: the company that needs all your personal information to perform a background check (with no face-to-face interview, mind you, this is all done via telephone), the company that needs a “manager” to sign leases on cars, the company that needs a bank account to “deposit funds into” the company that needs to have merchandise shipped to you so you can forward overseas. The scam evolves each time.

Anyhow, I’m telling my friend how I can’t believe that people fall for this, you can smell it a mile away. And she says, well, some people truly believe most people are honest. They don’t think that most people are scamming.

Nope, try again.

I believe that many people are so eager for a big break, something to rescue them from their financial situation, that they go for things they know they shouldn’t just on the off chance that it works.

I think most of us sense when something is wrong. but there are some who will go for it anyway, crossing their fingers in the meantime. Why is this important to you? This is how people get scammed buying bad deals or counterfeit merchandise. I think the psychology of the buyer is just as important as the traits of the scammer or the scam itself.

Anyhow, this has consumed a great deal of my time and I’m just putting the other projects on pause for a moment to straighten this out.
Posted by theclothingbroker.com

You Can’t Cheat an Honest Person

A dear friend of mine, whose infinite wisdom I respect tremendously, has a blog. And in her blog she blogged me and something I said. And a comment to that blog included a very poignant statement:

I remember an essay by Ayn Rand in which she illustrates the meaning of the saying, “you can’t cheat an honest man.” An honest man always knows he has to pay for what he gets (one way or the other). Scammers always appeal to the temptation to get something for nothing.

That bolded part was just so profound that it stuck out at me. Scammers DO appeal to the temptation to get something for nothing. Almost every instance of a scam I am aware of involved the elusive “deal of a lifetime”. That feeling of striking gold, that you finally found the mother-lode.

The funny thing is that people always look for signs of a scam, Dunn & Bradstreet reports, Better Business Bureau reports, message boards with information, checking telephone numbers and addresses. But time and time again, I have found the best sign is intuition. Every instance of a scam I know of the person who was scammed always knew something was wrong but went ahead despite their intuition.