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Fake Designer Bags in New York City, part 2

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 8/6/2003 - www.Littleviews.com ]

Macy's, New York City

>>  Since writing Fake Designer Bags in New York City, I've received a lot of email. Some people ask me if I sell the bags (no) and others ask me where, exactly, are these bags sold on Canal Street (many between Broadway and 6th Avenue).

In the last two days, however, I've received several emails from people who believed that they purchased the real thing and wondered if there was any way to tell. My first response was that it seemed to me that the real Louis Vuitton craftsmanship would be so outstanding that it would be easy to distinguish it from a fake. Well! Guess again . . .

If you re-read my first article, you'll notice that I sniffed at the Canal Street LV bags because they were vinyl, not leather, a sign to me of inferiority.

To test the theory, I visited the LV purse department at Macy's, expecting to be impressed by the quality of the real product. To my absolute amazement, real $700+ LV purses are made of a rubber or vinyl-coated canvas. More amazing is that some of these purses are trimmed with vinyl. I expected leather on all.

Fake bagsConclusion? Given the liberal use of man-made materials, I would not be able to tell the difference between real and fake.

So what are my readers asking? Here is a sample:

    I recently visited New York and did buy a Louis Vuitton fake. I have all real designer purses but couldn't resist buying the new spring white little bag that was suppose to be hard to get in stores and that I would not spend over $1,000.00 on a bag. I have to admit, it looks real to me. I actually spent $110.00 from a man with a garbage bag and box full of different purses. Walking down the street we saw at every street corner stands of purses that looked very fake. Is it possible that I may have gotten a real one? The guy was walking in front of our hotel "The Plaza" and scurried when police were near. Or perhaps I just got a "good fake". I have noticed you can usually tell by the inside. But this one even looks authentic inside. Thanks. I would appreciate what you know about this. Received 8/5/03

Fake bagsKaren's Investigation: The LV bags I saw at Macy's had various styles of labels sewn inside. Most seemed to be leather, but I found one tote that had the LV logo embossed in its vinyl interior trim.

The simple interiors of the real LV bags that I saw were made out of light colored, somewhat rough cloth.

So in answer to the "can you tell" question, if someone was determined to make a fake, they do not have a high standard of interior intricacy to shoot for, nor do they have to worry about replicating any particular label type.

Now on to the next question: "Is it possible to buy hot (stolen), fake purses?"

If you see what looks like stolen merchandise on the streets of New York, please inform the police and then walk away. It is not up to you to make a bust, but it is up to you to not reward crime.

Let's examine, however, whether it is probable for sidewalk vendors to hawk hot bags in the summer. Real LV bags sell for more than gold and diamond jewelry. Given that, it is unlikely that a thief would stroll around The Plaza, huge garbage bag over his shoulder, selling his stash at a popular $100 a pop.

Fake bagsWhy would a garbage-bag-toting individual scurry from the police? He probably did not have a New York City street vendor's license. We can be pretty sure that he didn't have an LV licensing agreement, either.

Do New York City cops arrest vendors for product licensing and copyright violations? It doesn't appear to be a priority.

Are real Louis Vuitton purses worth full price? On the night I visited Macy's big LV department, more people were happily buying than looking. What more proof do you need?

August 8, 2003 update

According to a recent New York Times, in some cases, attorneys for companies like Rolex go after the main distributors of fake merchandise. When these attorneys identify the source, they turn that information over to law enforcement.

An issue for society today is not how to stop duplication, but how to do business where duplication is an everyday fact of life. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know and I'll post them in a future article.

A strange twist to product duplication is that the duplicates give credit to the source, often promoting the popularity of that source. Full price Louis Vuitton products, for example, fly off shelves! Duplication of writing (plagiarism), however, hides the source, causing harm to writers and readers alike. Would you want to have a doctor who passed many of his college tests through plagiarism? Yet, you probably wouldn't mind if the doctor's assistant had a fake Louis Vuitton bag . . .

Questions or comments?
Karen Little

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 8/6/2003. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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