A sharp increase in counterfeit and imitated goods was recently reported by smaller, independent fashion labels. Besides large luxury goods manufacturers, counterfeiters and copycats are also increasingly targeting up-and-coming fashion brands, as the trade magazine Vogue Business reports. Since legal action against counterfeiters would be a problem for these smaller companies, e.g. due to the costs involved, they are reportedly resorting to alternative methods to protect themselves against imitations.
Goodboy, a brand from South Korea, for example uses targeted brand protection communications to inform trade partners and customers about counterfeits and imitations. This includes activities such as informing traders about distinguishing features between originals and counterfeits, also so that they can pass on the information to their customers. The fashion label’s founder, Jinkoo Lee, explains that while counterfeiters can copy the logos, prints, and fabric colors, the sewing details and fabric qualities are completely different. As another element of its anti-counterfeiting strategy, the brand uses a QR code label that allows customers to verify the authenticity of their purchase. In addition, Goodboy changes the brand’s logo every season, making it more difficult for counterfeiters to copy its clothing.
British fashion label House of Sunny also reports counterfeit and imitated goods and expresses surprise at how early they faced the problem. “I didn’t think as a young designer that we’d be in this dilemma so quickly”, says Sunny Williams, founder of the label. House of Sunny therefore also wants to make consumers aware of counterfeiting. “They may be focused on wanting the fashion trend to the point where they’ll be willing to buy and wear the fake. If we can [get through to] that individual, that’ll stop the demand for fakes.” House of Sunny will also introduce a QR code label later this year.
Social networks are often in the focus as a sales channel for counterfeit designer fashion: Apparently, the more successful a product is and the more it is shared virally on social media, the more likely it is copied. For brands like House of Sunny, which itself relies on social media communications and, for example, reaches over 620,000 followers on Instagram, this poses a permanent threat. Experts often advise young brands to take early action to protect themselves: Many startup fashion labels would want to wait and see how their brand develops. However, some do not see this as a good strategy. “If you don’t protect now, you’ll have to litigate tomorrow”, states Loke-Khoon Tan, senior partner at law firm Baker Mckenzie in Hong Kong and China.