Friday, August 18, 2006

A overview of Korean fakes

The Korean Times rises above its own journalism standards and publishes a great expose on the luxury goods fakes market in Korea, sellers and buyers. If anything though the article UNDERSTATES the problem here in opinion. Perhaps the key passage of worry for luxury goods makers, and their IP gaurdians:

Min-jung accompanied this reporter to buy a fake designer bag in Itaewon. After asking around for Louis Vuitton bags, one of the men asks her to follow him to a hidden, air-conditioned room in the back streets of Itaewon, which is a hideaway for the super fake designer bags...

He has two kinds of [Louis Vuitton] Speedy bags, one made in China and another made in Korea. The China copy, he said, is a good enough copy but there are flaws that can be easily spotted. On the other hand, the Korea-made copy is almost an exact copy of the original one, and naturally, is more expensive.

Placed side-by-side, you can notice the differences between the Chinese copy and the Korean copy. Park points out the leather used for the handles of the Chinese copy are "not good," and looks too shiny and new. Even the brown LV canvas material looks stiffer

Upon closer look at the Korean copy, small details such as the stitching show loose threads. Min-jung, who already owns an original Speedy, notes the only difference she can spot is the punch hole on the zipper pull, which is slightly bigger than the original one...To further convince his customers, Park points out the Korean copy has an authentic-looking numerical code stamped inside the bag

The Chinese copy costs 65,000 won, while the Korean copy costs 100,000 won. It may seem a lot of money to pay for a fake bag, but Min-jung said she got her original Speedy bag for almost $800 in the U.S.

One of the more annoying things is the focus on Chinese fakes, when its the Koreans who are really producing the high-quality stuff. A couple months ago I shared a lunch table with one of these luxury goods brand protection managers. My impression of him was that he was more concerned about Chinese exports to Korea than anything made in Korea. However he was rather interested in the online market, which is a step in the right direction. For all my belly-aching about the shops and stalls in shopping areas, I know a good part of this trade is infact online.

Think I am overstating my case? Consider my recent posts on "Grade A" fakes in Korea. Including Japanese tourists (also note the catalouge above was Japanese) and Singapore merchants fawning over the Korean fakes quality. The above is clearly not limited to "only to Koreans" or a problem found "only in Korea".

Meanwhile the Dong-A gives a (warmed over) report on the second hand luxury shops in Apgujeong. Interesting if you have not heard anything about the these stores (think high class pawn shops). What I want to know though is how sure can these shops be sure they are getting real goods, espeical considering the article above.

I bring this out for the following quote. This again drives home my worries about the fake market in Korea:

“80 percent of luxury goods that people have received as gifts are fake. When the women realize this too late they’re quite disappointed.”

80%? granted they are gifts, so some givers may be trying to pull a fast one. However if 80% reciving gifts that are such a high quality they feel emboldened to try to sell them, just think about how many never make it through the door because they spot the fake immediately.

Before I sign off here, I would like to juxtapose some paragraphs from the Dong-A article together for a laugh:

Used luxury goods shops also act as pawnshops. In most stores the goods are used as collateral in exchange for 30 percent of the buying price in cash. A source tells us that the goods are usually traded in to pay off credit card debts...One used luxury goods shop owner says, “If you look at some of the stuff the customers bring in, over 90 percent of them are nearly new,” describing Koreans as extremely gullible to marketing tricks..

On August 16 at a secondhand luxury goods store in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul, a woman in her early thirties entered the store, set down her black handbag, and asked, “How much can I get?”...She received a written commission note and looked around the store before plucking a 1.0 million won Chanel handbag off the shelf and paid for it on her credit card

Some people never learn their lessons.


At August 19, 2006 1:45 AM, Blogger Mizar5 said...

I was in Korea for months before I realized it too was a fake - I was actually in the bizzaro world...


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