The real deal? // Are the designer products you are buying fake?

By Tzipie Wolner

The white tiles gleamed under the sparkling chandeliers. Although the hour was late, the store buzzed with shoppers. The designer bags I was looking for were on shelves beside the cash register, under the glow of three spotlights.

I picked up the same purse I had bought three months ago and waited for the saleslady, well-heeled and friendly, to approach.
“Is this real?” I asked.
The woman looked me in the eye.
“Oh.” This was not the answer I had expected.
“They’re way cheaper than what the real bags sell for,” she pointed out with a smile.
I nodded. She was right. I had paid half of what I would pay for a real designer bag, but it was still a lot of money for a bag that might not even be made of genuine leather!

This was the third shop I was visiting to see if the owners would admit that their wares were knockoffs. The first store was one of those you’ve probably noticed on any main street in Jerusalem. Lunch bags and briefcases crowd the walls of the store. You wouldn’t know that they carry some posh bags inside that go for hundreds of dollars—if they’re real. They’re not, in fact, real, but they’re being sold as though they are, for a quarter of the price.

I picked up a purse and asked the owner, “Are these real?”
“Betach! Do you think I would sell fake bags?”
When I checked out a designer wallet in another store and asked if it was real, the answer was somewhat confusing.
“Of course it’s real. It’s not leather, but it’s real.”
I guess he meant that the wallet was real. And I must admit that it was a real wallet.

This quest began when I bought what I thought was a genuine Michael Kors purse. I wore the bag for about three months before the logo started to come off. Weird, I thought. I own a few Michael Kors products, and they’re made really well. I removed the metal logo from the bag. Unlike real MK products, this logo was stuck to the leather (or was it pleather?) with two spikes. It broke in my fingers. I compared the logo to the one on my genuine MK bag. The “O” was definitely different, and the letters of the fake logo were all attached to a bar, whereas each letter of the genuine logo was attached tightly to the leather. Definitely not the same.

When the strap snapped off as I was taking out my papers and wallet, my guess was confirmed.

And now the saleslady had verified it as well.
If you buy designer clothes, shoes, purses, sunglasses, cosmetics, or other items, chances are that you’re buying these items for the high quality that earned these brands their fame. Most of the time, that trust is valid because a majority of the brand-name goods have very high standards in terms of quality control, a humane work ethic, and adherence to FDA requirements (for cosmetics and medical equipment).

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