It all started with a simple pink thread that protruded from the handle of our bazaarite’s Prada Saffiano bag, and she decided to take it to the brand’s boutique in Mall 360 for repair.
The bag was purchased online, at a greatly discounted price, but it came in an original dust bag, with the Prada authenticity card. She thought nothing of going to the store and figured that their shop was the best place to get the repair done. Instead, she found that her bargain hunting seven months prior had led her to a deal that was too good to be true.
According to Prada store manager Ahmed Dawoud, women are being fooled by high quality fake bags sold as authentic pieces with extreme discounts. These websites have guarantees, testimonial pages and in depth explanations on why their prices are so much lower than the boutiques’. The unsuspecting thrifty fashionista could be carrying a fake, and even the brand’s sales associates wouldn’t know it.
Here’s the thing, anything that is made can and will be copied. As the counterfeit industry grows, so do the skills, and it is becoming impossible to spot the fake. International designer brands have actively pursued staunch legal action against the counterfeit sellers. In January of this year Coach won an anti-counterfeit suit worth USD 5.5 million against a Florida-based flee market, the latest win for designers in the anti-fakes war.
According to CNN Money, the counterfeit industry will make USD 1.7 trillion in sales in 2015, and account for 2% of the world’s economy. The Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau estimates that USD 25 billion of those sales are done online, and Kuwait is the second largest online consumer market in the Middle East. The fakes online are a far cry from the Prado and Gauci bags, plastic LV’s with faded coloring and the iconic C in every direction you find with street vendors or shady shopping malls. They look and seem real, and the sellers make definite claims that their bags are in fact authentic products.
For some women, this isn’t a problem. As long as they are getting a high quality bag in the style they like, they see no issues in buying a fake. However, manufactures creating the fake bags are also making fake medication, car batteries and even food. Items that when made incorrectly, could be life threatening.
So, how can you be savvy, smart and economic when purchasing a designer item online? Start by getting to know the product you want at a boutique or department store, where you know it’s authentic. Get to know the bag through touch, sound and smell, use your senses to really experience the fine detail and high quality materials used to make the bag.
You can attempt a search online, but be warned. Authenticity guarantees, solid return policies and good customer service are important business practices that safeguard the customer, and the business’s reputation, and the counterfeiters know this.
At the end of the day, if a deal seems too good to be true, it really is. Designer houses safeguard their work and its prices. Most major high-end bags are not ever available at outlet stores, particularly online.
“The products bearing the Prada trademark are distributed through a Selective Distribution Network and are legitimately offered for sale worldwide in our mono-brand boutiques, in selected and authorized multi-brand stores and in luxury department stores, as well as through our official website,” read an email from Prada Client Services in the USA.
So what happens if you do unknowingly buy a fake? If you just want your money back, contact the seller and explain to them that you believe you received a fake item. If you are not within the return period, you may very well get a response, like our bazaarite did, that this is no longer their problem.
The vendor the Prada Saffiano was bought from, lovedesignerbags.com, claimed vigorously that their products are all real, and even accused her of lying in order to return an item outside of the guarantee period. She promptly contacted Prada’s Dubai office and presented the issue to them.
“We are honestly facing lot of issues with fake bags being sold online and we are taking necessary actions to hopefully solve this,” responded Liliane El Asmar PR & Communication Manager Prada Group, Prada Middle East. “In the meantime, we always recommend customers to buy only from boutiques or authorized retailers that can be easily tracked.”
Our bazaarite was contacted by the Kuwait store, and the store manager asked her to bring in the bag to be sent to Italy for verification. A few weeks later she received this statement from Prada Client Services USA.
“As far as the site “lovedesignerbags.com” is concerned, kindly be advised that we have already sent content removal requests to the registrant,” they wrote. “As a matter of fact, all the contents in strict connection to our trademarks have been removed.”
It is against Prada policy to return non-authentic items to customers who bring them into the store. Yet, for our bazaarite, losing a fake was worth saving countless women from making the same mistake she did.
Since the incident we have found that management at lovedesignerbags has changed, along with their product line and that they continue to maintain their innocence. New management has also facilitated a refund for our bazaarite.