Red Points investigates actions against fake wedding and prom dresses, an ongoing problem for luxury brands despite their usually-disappointing appearance.
It’s true that there can be many hundreds, even thousands, of incentives to buying a fake wedding dress, prom dress or other formal gown on a knock-off site.
But is it still worth it if you end up with a dress that isn’t the one you ordered? Unfortunately this is the case more often than not, and social media review pages have been created to warn discount-hunters by sharing images of dresses that are comically far from online pictures. In fairness to consumers, it is easy to be drawn in by websites that look genuine, have a high google search ranking and post listings with official images of couture. Good Morning America revealed that 600,000 brides are buying wedding dresses online every year “thinking they’re getting the real deal”, and “designer” prom dress websites are also enjoying the success of e-commerce.
Counterfeit fashion websites often work by selling goods with non-returnable policies, or prove difficult to get in touch with when it comes to an item return. The problem is that these websites are readily disposable, so legal action taken against individual domains will only result in a hydra effect of new sites being created.
Cautious shoppers may receive a dress that is “wearable”, admits the New Jersey Consumer Affairs Division, but they will undoubtedly incur expensive alteration costs due to cheap manufacture. To put it simply, high-quality fashion is expensive; masses of luxury, unique materials and expert craftsmanship come together in bridal and prom couture to create individual pieces that mass-produced $200 designs cannot hope to recreate.
The bridal industry also contributes greatly to the global economy, whereas counterfeiting takes $461 billion from the economy every year. Equivalent to 2.5% of all global trade, the 2013 OECD report concludes that this figure is rising. It is clearly time that brands come together to take action against counterfeiting, for a stronger future in finance and welfare, with a recent report in mind that outlines how counterfeiting provides financial support to damaging industries such as child labour, trafficking and illegal weaponry. Educating consumers on issues such as this is an important step in initiating a trend away from fake, disposable fashion, but equally the means of counterfeiting through e-commerce websites needs to be addressed.
The problem is that Chinese factories often produce both genuine and fake wedding dresses, explains Stephen Lang, president of the American Bridal and Prom Industry Association, so it is easy for factory workers to bootleg designs and reproduce them illegally, using cheaper materials. Since efforts to outsource production away from China are the root issue, it is difficult for companies to protect their product in a brand protection solution that is not simply a quick fix.
There have been recent victories in mass-targeted legal action against fashion counterfeits, such as the Moose Knuckles lawsuit which secured $52 million in penal damages. It has been found that shutting down multiple sites run by the same operative simultaneously can make an enormous impact to their practice, and this technical strategy combined with expert knowledge of how counterfeiting businesses work can work to achieve a long-term solution for online brand protection.