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Fake Designer Bags in New York City, part 1

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 7/6/2003 - www.Littleviews.com ]

Please read all articles on Littleviews if you are interested in this subject. Counterfeit merchandise is a serious criminal problem, although at first glance buying illegal goods may seem harmless, especially when it appears to be easy to find. Be a good citizen (or visitor) and avoid the stuff.

>>  Fake designer bags may be a bigger draw to New York City than the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building combined. Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade and Coach should all be given inadvertent credit for greatly improving the tourist situation here since 9/11.

How easy is it to locate fake designer bags? To find out for myself on a humid, 100-degree Saturday morning, I left the Canal Street and 6th Avenue Subway Station, heading east along Canal. It took only five minutes to take the photos seen here, representing just a fraction of all Canal Street vendors.

Canal Street bags usually match the price and quality of purses available in stores like Target or Kohls. Even though Canal Street looks chaotic, that doesn't mean its goods are "cheap." Many fake LV bags, in fact, cost considerably more than comparable "generic" bags of the same quality. Buyer beware!

Most of the classic Canal Street "designer" merchandise looks the same year-after-year. The designer touch is usually in the form of a glued-on label featuring a designer's name. Coach bags, however, have its name embossed on leather tags, with many vendors swearing that their Coach bags are the real thing. Who's to say?

Louis Vuitton knock-offs have always been around, but its 2003 styles featuring pastel LV logos and flowers are now exceptionally popular.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Louis Vuitton knock offs, here is what to look for:

  • Photo 1: White print bags.

  • Photo 2: White print hanging bag and flowered bags on the shelf beneath it.

  • Photo 3: A table 100% full of the stuff. Note the black plastic bag under the table holding even more merchandise. Also look at that cloth on the left. It's used to pull over the table in case of a shake-down by the fashion police.

  • Photo 4: Most of the hanging bags.

If you can't get to Canal Street to buy fakes, explore www.lvforless.com - LV For Less, which had 6996 "hits" on the day I wrote this article. (8/14/03 Update: I thought that this site would be shut down when I first saw it. As of now, it cannot be reached.)

Then again, you might want to visit www.Vuitton.com to see the real thing.

Unfortunately, the Vuitton site is annoying to navigate, even with a high-speed internet connection. Should you stick with it, however, you'll eventually see purses that sell for between $700 and $13,000. Compare them with LV for Less (if that site still exists), to judge the differences for yourself.

Are knock-offs criminal? Deception is. I do not know if deception is being used on Canal Street and have not explored any other issues for this article. What I am reporting is that this type of product flourishes on Canal Street and is sold in very permanent store-fronts. If something is wrong, the police know where to find it.

Questions or comments?
Karen Little

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Read Littleviews' Series on Fake Bags and Counterfeiting in NYC:

Copies are a Canal Street specialty, 7/6/03

How real designer bags compare with fakes, 8/6/03

Pictorial essay on illegal activity, 9/18/03

Learn about a TimeOut New York article on this subject, 9/26/04

Counterfeit merchandise seized in New York City, 6/30/05

Fake drugs, wine, handbags, and designer goods in New York City, 10/3/2006

Fake bags and counterfeiting in 2007 in New York City, 12/8/2007

Louis Vuitton Wins Federal Counterfeit Case in Manhattan Court, 10/26/2008

Counterfeitting Activity in New York - January 2009 through January 2010, 2/23/2010

Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 7/6/2003. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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