Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Fake shoes or Jimmy Choo's?

It seems there is no escape from the problem of counterfeit goods, whether you are a top end luxury brand or a high street favourite. For consumers happy to buy counterfeits, the sales channels are many: from the low-end car boot sales and market stalls, to high street shops, to slick websites claiming to offer the real thing.

News has reached Fashionista of the dramatic increase in counterfeit shoes flooding the online market in the last 6 months. Websites such as are claiming to offer genuine Christian Louboutins at a fraction of the cost (albeit still £100+) of the genuine goods.

Somewhat more localised, Ted Baker has helped uncover and clamp down on a counterfeit operation in Leicester. Sukhvinder Singh Gill has just been jailed for nearly 3 years admitting several counts of trade mark infringement. Trading as S.G.H.T Ltd, Mr Gill set up an operation which manufactured cheap knock-offs of brands including Ted Baker, Armani, Boss and Lacoste, all due to be sold on to wholesalers as the genuine article. Ted Baker started investigating the company and then involved Leicester City Council's Trading Standards Officers, who raided Mr Gill's factory and seized over 3,000 counterfeit goods. and over 6,000 counterfeit tags and labels, amounting to approximately £60,000 worth of counterfeit goods.

Fashionista's advice to brand owners: Ted Baker has got this right. Clamp down on counterfeiters. Counterfeiting is a big problem which can seriously damage a brand owner's most important asset: its brand and reputation. We've seen it happen to luxury brands where floods of readily available counterfeits turn a "must have" brand into one that the discerning shopper turns her back on. Although brands can claw their way back to the top with clever marketing, savvy rebranding or the right PR spin, it is not always easy, successful or cheap to do. Whilst pursuing counterfeiters requires an investment of time and cash, show counterfeiters that you will pursue them and there is every chance that counterfeiters will look to rip off easier targets, leaving your brand alone.

Fashionista is hopeful that brand enforcement measures, coupled with the imposition of strict penalties, will lead to a marked reduction in counterfeit goods. Our European neighbours in France and Italy have started imposing fines on consumers of counterfeit goods. Fashionista is watching this space to see whether we are going to impose similar fines on consumers here in the UK.

The real deal or a fake: which price are you prepared to pay? The one you see on a (genuine) price tag, or the one that may come with a custodial sentence or a hefty fine from manufacturing and selling counterfeit goods and, maybe one day, just from purchasing them.


Culturazzi-at-Law said...

It's not surprising that this counterfeit operation as based in Leicester - disappointing but not surprising. Leicestershire has the largest concentration of design businesses in England outside of London: see

The traditional production industries are clothing and footwear and although a lot of the manufacturing is now done in East Asia the design function has stayed in Leicester.

Mr. Gill was therefore able to access a pool of local skills but unfortunately did so for illegal purposes. The graduates from De Montfort University (one of the three local universities) Contour Design course are sought after by the leading design houses and so help to rebalance the criminality of the few.