Be careful when purchasing your designer denim on Ebay. Chances are it could be fake. Premium denim brands are finding that they are no different than designer handbags. Overnight success in recent years has also meant an international counterfeiting problem.
Due to advances in technology, denim counterfeiters have flourished. Ted Houston, COO of Rock & Republic, said on a monthly basis, the company is getting more than 100 Customs seizures worldwide and removes more than 20,000 online auctions of fakes.
Today, not only are counterfeit Levi’s being produced in the Asia Pacific region, they are also being found in places like Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
“To get through Customs, sometimes [the counterfeiters] will ship unmarked, unbranded denim pants,” says Thomas Onda, chief counsel for worldwide brand protection at Levi Strauss. “They’ll get to a certain country, and then they’ll apply the sundries to the fabric.” Levis recently seized 2.5 million labels, tabs and buttons in South Africa.
Barbara Kolsun, senior vice president and general counsel for Seven For All Mankind, and its official anti-counterfeiting watchdog, is focused on forging relationships with Seven’s competitors to help fight the counterfeit problems they all face. “Counterfeiters don’t pick one brand,” she said. “If they’re counterfeiting jeans, they’re going to counterfeit fifteen different brands. If they’re counterfeiting handbags, they’re not just going to pick Kate Spade, they’re going to counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Chanel, and everyone else. I have a lot of years of experience working jointly.” They share information, share tactics and sometimes join together in civil or criminal actions.
Many brand owners are now shifting their attention from pursuing street-level peddlers of counterfeit goods to training police officers and Customs officials around the globe on how to quickly spot the fakes before they enter the market.
Brands are increasingly adding special design elements to their products that identify them as legitimate. While creating exact replicas of those features is not impossible for counterfeiters, spending the necessary time and money to do so is unlikely. Here are a few of the tell-tale signs for which the company trains police and Customs officials to be on the lookout.
Check the stitching and the rivets against the real deal. The rivets on genuine Seven products have the company name. The poor quality of the construction, seen in the stitching on the edge of the pocket and the design and in the placement of the pocket, is also clear indications of a knockoff.
Poor quality of the interior seam (clearly visible loose threads) is an indication to of fake Seven For All Mankind jeans. Also check the logo printed on the inside of the waistband of the pants. Compare it to that of a real pair of Seven jeans.
Seven For All Mankind jeans are manufactured in the U.S. If the interior tag, reads “Made in China” they are counterfeit.
Check the hangtags and the logo fonts. Many times the paper quality of the tag is different as is the stitching.
Genuine Seven jeans use brand-name zippers from YKK. The YKK logo is discernible by the distinctness of the letters in the logo. The hardware and findings used in the production of garments have become more important in distinguishing real products from fake ones. The pieces are guarded by some companies as carefully as gold during the manufacturing process.
If the jeans you are coveting seem really cheap, that should be a warning sign. Real Seven jeans should be about $100 for a starting bid on Ebay, unless you are buying a used pair.
Sources: WWD: “What Makes a Fake” by Liza Casabona; “Barbara Kolsun: Counterfeit Cop” by Liza Casabona; “Counterfeit Denim Goes Global” by Ross Tucker; Ebay