It makes sense that the luxury items that are the most highly revered, that people are willing to spend a lot of money on, are popular with counterfeiters. Those who can’t afford the originals are highly interested in cheaper knockoffs. Pirates take advantage of this hunger to possess what the elite own, and they turn piracy into a lucrative moonlighting gig.
One popular location to find these illegal vendors hawking their fake wares is on the streets of metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
Following are the top 10 counterfeited luxury brands and products.
Louis Vuitton (bags) – In the summer of 2020, Chinese police discovered a large operation of Louis Vuitton counterfeiters, arresting 62 local criminal gangs and seizing more than 2,000 fake bags.
Rolex (watches) – In 2019, there were more phony Rolex watches than genuine ones. The company’s definition of fake products is any Rolex branded watch made with unapproved or non-authentic parts.
Chanel (perfume) – The world-famous French luxury brand also offers bags, purses, wallets and clothing. All are targeted by counterfeiters. In 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a warning to retailers to examine their Chanel merchandise, as they had intercepted a large number of fakes.
Tiffany & Co. (jewelry) – In 2010, the company brought a lawsuit against eBay, once they discovered that almost three-quarters of Tiffany products on its website were counterfeits. They also sued retailer Costco for selling knockoff Tiffany branded diamond rings.
Burberry (apparel) – This British fashion house, founded in 1856, is famous for its signature designs on trench coats, hats and scarves. In 2019, the company tried to close thousands of online shops that were selling counterfeit Burberry products, even going so far as to destroy their own products to more easily identify fakes.
Gucci (bags and purses) – their distinctive “double G” logo is a famous icon of fashion brands and is frequently mimicked. In 2020, the company went after four million fake online product listings.
Hermès (bags, belts, wallets, scarves) – This legendary brand, with its Birkin silk scarves and bags, is infamous for its fakes. Years ago, Hermès employees even got in on the illegal action, with some helping counterfeiters acquire actual materials from the company to make their imitations. Although they were apprehended, the counterfeiting continues.
Apple (AirPods) – In 2021, U.S. CBP seized $1.3 million of counterfeit AirPods and other Apple earbuds, shipped from China. As the most famous (and counterfeited) tech brand, other Apple products are also pirated, and with shoddy electronics, this could prove to be dangerous to the public.
Cartier (jewelry and watches) – This French watch and jewelry designer, along with Pradha and the parent company of Louis Vuitton, LVMH, formed the Aura Blockchain Consortium to fight counterfeits. The brands want to use cryptocurrency and NFT technology, developed by Microsoft, that verifies product authenticity with the product history sent directly to consumers.
Ray-Ban (sunglasses) – Frequently copied, these counterfeits may actually damage someone’s eyes, since they don’t have the trademarked UV protection of genuine Ray-Ban sunglasses.
In March 2020, Congress passed the Shop Safe Act, designed to make online retailers responsible for any counterfeit merchandise that they advertise. Although that law may have ‘woken up’ some retailers to the rampant problem of fake products, clearly, this is an ongoing battle.