Fake designer handbags worth nearly £10million have been seized by Trading Standards and Border Control officers in Yorkshire this year.
The statistics, revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, show 18,000 logo badges for designer bags and 178 fake handbags have been recovered so far this year. Most were seized at Leeds Bradford Airport.
The research was done by handbag company Handbag Clinic.
The firm, which sells pre-owned designer bags at its store in Leeds, estimates if bags were genuine they would have been worth in the region of £10million.
Fakes featured branding claiming to be Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry, Armani and Jimmy Choo. Criminals bring in plain bags and then apply logos once in the UK.
Charlotte Staerck, purchasing manager at Handbag Clinic, said: “It’s great that these items have been prevented from being sold, but clearly these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
“Whereas once it might have been common to see fake designer clothing, accessories, handbags and electrical goods being sold on market stalls or at car boot fairs, now this crime has, to an extent, moved online onto social media. Many of us are now familiar with ads for fake designer goods popping up onto our news feeds.
“It’s vital that the consumer is protected from receiving inferior goods and that legitimate businesses are not undercut by rogue traders. While some people may not mind buying phony goods as long as they are cheaper than the genuine article, others are being duped into buying bags they believe are real.
“It may seem like a victimless crime, but investigations have linked counterfeit goods to sweatshop working practices, child labour, organised crime and even the funding of terrorism.”
How to spot a fake handbag
1. Designers only use quality materials. Louis Vuitton, for example, features Vachetta leather which will be light when new and will darken over time.
2. Look carefully at signature prints. Brands like Gucci, Fendi and Louis Vuitton are all renowned for their monogram patterns, which are always featured in a particularly style and type face.
3. Hardware. Zips, fastenings and interior hardware often feature the designer’s name and are of good, heavy quality. Look at the spacing and positioning of any logos.
4. Stitching is one of the best ways to look for authenticity. Different designers use different techniques, and stitching should always be the right colour. While counterfeiters will often be looking to cut corners, designer brands use a high number of stitches per inch. Stitching should be perfectly even with no loose threads.
5. Certificate or code of authenticity. While many brands do not supply authenticity certificates because they can be copied, some do. The code on any certificate or card should match the code printed inside the bag.
6. Lining. Often counterfeiters pay some attention to the exterior of a bag and forget about the interior, using either plain linings or linings which are brash and gaudy, where authentic pieces would use subtle designs.
7. Place of manufacture. While counterfeiters may miss out a place of origin or simply label a bag where the fashion house is based, some Louis Vuitton bags for example were actually made in Spain, Italy or Germany.
8. Spelling. An obvious one, but the worst copies can’t even get the designer’s name right.