Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A story from Barcelona

So, I've only just come back from Barcelona. It was an amazing city, and I had such a great time. Anyway, this post is not about my trip (I'll have a post up about it in the next few days). This post is about something I saw while in Spain.

It was about 9.30pm and we went into a shopping centre, which was just off a pier. When we came out of the shopping centre about 45 minutes later, the pier was completely transformed. There were hundreds of little white sheets on the floor and on each on there were about 10-15 knock off bags. It was remarkable just how quickly the pier changed. We asked about prices and found that the bags were going for, at most, 30 Euros, and we saw people haggling them down to 10-15 Euros. Even 'genuine' knock offs aren't that cheap.

So we inspected some of the bags. My Grandad made his living out of leather, so my dad knows his leather pretty well. He was inspecting the bags and was shocked to see that some of the bags were genuine leather. I'm no bag expert, but at first glance they could pass as real. Obviously you know they're not after just picking them up and looking inside.

Anyway, we were still inspecting them when the guy behind the 'sheet' grabbed the bag, as did all the other guys there, and within 30 seconds had everything wrapped up and running away.
It was actually a clever thing here. Each of the for corners of the sheet was tied to rope and in the middle, the rope was tied together, and all the guys had to do was pull the rope and the sheet would immediately roll up.

So anyway, we saw why they all immediately legged it: the police had come. But in all honestly, I don't think they cared too much. There was one (gorgeous Spanish) policeman on a motorbike. And he had a bored expression on his face and kinda shrugged his shoulders and drove after them. But he was going really slowly and was dragging his feet on the floor as he was driving. He was actually driving alongside the running guys and could have caught them with very little effort.

This reminded me of a place in Dubai. You get knock off stuff there as well. You go into the market and people take you to an apartment block nearby (very dodgy indeed) and each shop has an apartment there and you walk in and the walls are covered in fake stuff: bags, shoes, jewellery, clothes, pens etc. And again, with a little effort the government/police could close it all down if they wanted to.

So this got me thinking, just how big is the knock off industry? It must be massive, maybe even bigger than the real industries. I mean there are so many knock offs out there and it's obvious from these 2 places I've been to that all their stock comes from the same place. But there has to be a huge organisation behind it. And if it seems so easy to crack down on them locally, surely, by working your way up the ladder, you'd eventually be able to find out who really is behind it.

And if companies like Prada and Chanel, know about all the knock offs, in theory you'd think thats they'd do whatever it takes to get rid of them, so why don't they?

There really has to be more to the big knock off industries than what we think. They are a lot bigger and way more organised.

Sorry about all these incoherent thoughts . I just thought I'd put them down and then see what everyone else thinks.

Sherin xx


Luinae said...

Personally, I would never wear or carry a knock off. I would rather save up and carry the real thing- a fake one would make me feel fake.

elle s'ennuie said...

I suspect the issue with shutting down the operations is that it'd be like slaying heads off a dragon that grows two new ones for every head lost. The knock-off industry is probably incredibly profitable, plus likely owned/run by criminal organizations that wield considerable financial and political power (all intertwined with 'legal' money, corporations, and banks), so shutting them down is not that easy at all.

Most of the people that buy knockoffs are probably not those people that would actually buy the very expensive real designer item, so the financial repercussions from the knockoff industry in the form of lost customers shouldn't be too great for the designer houses, except when a knockoff becomes so ubiquitous that the original item no longer seems as cool, exclusive, and covetable when so many other people seem to have it.

Little Red said...

If I was a designer, I know I would want to do whatever I could to get rid of knock-offs of my product. It's just ridiculous to see so many people wearing fake designer stuff. I'm sure there are a lot of people who think, "Should I spend thousands of dollars and get the real thing or spend $100 and get a fake?" And I'm sure a lot would buy the fake and believe no one will know the difference.

I would never purchase a knock-off of anything. There is a farmer's market where I live. They sell all sorts of stuff. Fresh vegetables, crafts, bootleg CDs, fake designer stuff. As far as I know, these sellers never got in trouble for the fake designer items. However, I do know a lot of people there got in trouble for selling the bootleg tapes.

People have the ability to shut down a single person selling fake stuff. But I think sometimes they just don't care. It's unfortunate. They should do what they can to put an end to it.

Jennifer Fabulous said...

In the U.S. we have several mall stores that blatantly sell knock offs. Some of these bags are just as you said--made out of real leather and even come with a little "Chanel" authenticity card.

There is a place by my apartment that actually sells real designer purses for super cheap because the designer purses are damaged and cannot be sold in the actual boutiques. For instance, I purchased a real Chanel bag for $100 once because the stitching was off. The store owner has a deal with designer outlets or something. Kind of cool. I'd rather have a real Chanel bag with funny stitching than a fake one...

CC said...

haha never though about it but yes..it must be very large indeed

FabBlab said...

In India, you get knock-offs like you get cakes.
I would personally never carry one myself. There's just something demeening about it. Admitted I don't own anything but a Coach and a LV speedy but I'd rather not have it rather than carry a knock-off.

Fashionista said...

love the story..i while back I did a post on fakes..it was interesting..as you say there is def a larger picture here..check a site called FAKE IS NEVER IN FASHION.COM...its pretty interesting..great post..xoxomish

Neira said...

its an extremely massive industry indeed. We had to cover this issue in my fashion merchandising class my freshman year and it was amazing to learn about all these underground tactics they pull to have the knock offs.. its really sad since companies are losing money from this and there is not much anyone can do since the police do not want to waste their time with this..its the biggest crime to them yet its so big they can not control it

hope you had fun in Spain! I want to see pictures!

Cafe Fashionista said...

There's a fine line between knockoffs and replicas, as well. A replica merely mimicks the look/style of an item, whereas a knockoff literally tries to pass itself off as an original.

I have nothing against replicas. I think that they're fabulous for those of us who want styles similar to those put forth by designers. But knockoffs are a whole other story entirely.

Great post, Sherin! :)

Kait said...

I love Barcelona! I got the most brilliant red scarf there (from a white sheet vendor!) Hands down the best part of going to Barcelona was seeing the Sagrada Familia-so beautiful!

I often wonder if the knock off industry surpasses the real industry as well because so many girls in high school would wear fake everything. I agree with some of the other comments that I personally wouldn't buy a fake handbag but I don't pass judgement on those who do. I do pass judgement on people who pay the price of a car for a handbag, lol.

I would love a postcard from london! Thank you!

ana said...

Well I must say you are totally right... personally I don't like to buy fake things because people notice them and its not cool... I agree for some replicas like the ones you can find in stores like Zara that we all know are based in big firms but Oh Sherin unfortunetely the Knock off industry in Mexico is soo big but mostly in music... you can buy some CD's from 1 USD... imagine!!!

OceanDreams said...

Yeah, that is very interesting about the industry, I bought a few things myself when I went to Hong Kong and Barcelona. I replicas look so alike, I would rather have a real one but it is nice to not spend nearly as much and have an almost real one too! Glad you are okay and that the police men were cute, ha ha.

Anonymous said...

Its so tempting to buy knock off items and when I went to Thailand I had plans to get a bag from one of the markets there. When I was there though I just went right off the idea as it just made me feel kind of dodgy (the fact the market was in the middle of all the strip bars may have had something to do with it!). It is disgusting though how much dsign houses pay for a bag just beacuse of it's label-I'd much rather pay for a beautifully crafted bag from a less well known designer.
Great Post! x


Couture Carrie said...

I love Bracelona too, but I say no to fakes!


Anonymous said...

hello lovely,

For me, the subject of fakes is a tough one. I, personally am offended at the astronomical pricing of designer bags. It costs maybe $150 to make one of their luxury bags. They then turn around and sell them to us for thousands of dollars. It's ridiculous. While, I do not condone carrying fakes, I do think the mark-ups on designer clothing is ridiculous. No one should be paying $10,000 for a purse when there are people starving all over the world.

great post, very engaging and thought provoking.

Anonymous said...

hello lovely,

For me, the subject of fakes is a tough one. I, personally am offended at the astronomical pricing of designer bags. It costs maybe $150 to make one of their luxury bags. They then turn around and sell them to us for thousands of dollars. It's ridiculous. While, I do not condone carrying fakes, I do think the mark-ups on designer clothing is ridiculous. No one should be paying $10,000 for a purse when there are people starving all over the world.

great post, very engaging and thought provoking.

Piglet said...

Oh I saw some examples of this while traveling in Europe. It is just incredible how quickly they are packed up and outta there.
Personally I would never buy from these people or buy any other knock off for that matter.

S.Elisabeth said...

This reminds me of a hilarious story. In Rome there were ladies trying to sell scarves. And all of a sudden we saw them running, arms spread with scarves like chickens, and screaming in a different language. It was the funniest site ever!
And hmm it is an interesting thought. Wouldn't it be genius if a huge line like Chanel secretly sold off knock offs?

♥ Marta ♥ said...

I think that the knock off industry is huge...but I think that it is a personal choice whether or not to contribute to it. Personally, I would never buy a fake. However, I do think that designer bag are far tooooooo overpriced.That's why I buy bags that I can afford, designer or not, as long as they are good quality, well made, and have genuine leather ( I hate wearing leather but nothing can replace the beauty of it).

interesting topic! :)

a frock a day said...

Very interesting post. And apparently from all the comments, a very thought provoking one as well.

Like everyone else, I would rather buy a real not-so-known item than a known fake one. Knock-offs are kinda ok though, as long as they don't copy everything (except the label) and try to pass off the design as their own. That's uncool.

Yeah, aren't all Spaniards gorgeous?

Polished Sense said...

I am not a fan of fakes. As I designer I'd be upset if someone copied my fabrics and made cheap bags out of it and sold them. Totally not cool.

But I do love Barcelona. I studied abroad there. Sangria was yummie!


Dubai Stylista said...

I too have wondered why the government doesnt have a stricter penalty on people selling fake goods. Although, people in Dubai have gotten a lot more sneakier and a lot less obvious...
Bangkok has an entire market devoted to counterfeit products, and they make no bones about it.The night market is such a huge tourist pull, and maybe thats one of the reasons why authorities don't shut it down.
I personally wouldn't ever buy a fake. I simply wouldn't be able to carry it around. But I do like things that copy the design asthetics of designer goods but at high street prices. Much like what Forever 21 and Topshop sells, but with their own brand name printed on it. It makes you wonder sometimes.. where do we draw the line?

Eri said...

Great post!

Very much enjoyed reading... quite a deep and meaningful subject.

See you soon

Kb said...

I have some knock-offs from Hong Kong...was slightly obsessed for a while, but I've learnt my lesson now. I'd rather get vintage bags, or save up for some from an outlet.

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