The counterfeit market in China has entered a highly sophisticated digital age following if not surpassing its genuine counterpart. Products of both mega brands and up-and-coming labels are knocked-off at the speed of fast fashion and distributed through a multi-layered network enabled by e-Commerce and social media.
The spread of high quality replicas further blurs the boundary between the real and fake, creating a unique consumer segment who are willing to pay $800 for a super A quality knocked-off limited edition Boy bag or $150 for a Fendi Karlito Monster Charm "re-issue".
From online to offline, from Chanel brick clutch to Céline box bag, replica sellers are moving towards a more curated, highly covetable offering.
Counterfeiters are increasingly good at trend forecasting and I have seen a vast quantity of Le Petite Malle and Pochette Metis knock-offs in the secondary markets and the counterfeiters are definitely betting on the right products.
Moreover, they are refining their techniques and craftsmanship. I was in awe when I saw a counterfeit seller posted the pattern making process of replica Valentino 1975 print rockstud pumps and I doubt I would be able to tell the difference.
Last but not least, the distribution of counterfeits has become increasingly discreet. On public e-Commerce platforms such as taobao.com, sellers use coded language and images with logo blurred out to avoid crack-down and allegations as seen below; many of them would disclose wechat accounts that are private, invitation only where all details of the replica products are revealed.
Born and raised in China, I spent my adolescence navigating China's ever complicated secondary fashion market. Until this day, the evolving scene of the counterfeit market makes me disheartened. The booming illegal industry is a manifestation that the Chinese people have all the capacity and resources needed in making high quality luxury goods, but we should be creating versus replicating them.