Counterfeiting in the Fashion Industry

Ching, Jessica
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Products have been identified by their brand marks since early times. Ancient Greek and Roman winemakers used impressions on their winecaps to show high quality, and in the Middle Ages trademarks were used to determine liability. Bakers were required by the British parliament in 1226 to mark their bread so that ''if any bread be faultie in weight it may bee then knowne in whome the fault is" (Kaikati & LaGarce, 1980:52). Counterfeiting became big business in the United States during Prohibition. Drinkers wanting some prohibited alcohol were willing to pay extra for a bottle of brand name scotch. Often the contents of such premium "imported'' bottles were domestic, and contained industrial alcohol, water, fusel oil, and flavorings under their counterfeit label (Chiles, 1986:36). In the last few years counterfeiting has become prevalent in the fashion industry. The occurrence of counterfeiting in the fashion industry has been identified as a serious problem by garment manufacturers whose unauthorized copies of goods are made and sold without their consent. The problem in this industry is of a different nature from counterfeiting in other industries; unlike counterfeit medicines, chemicals, or automobile and aircraft parts, lives are not endangered by counterfeit apparel. Nonetheless, counterfeiting in the fashion industry is a problem for many people. Manufacturers lose profits, employees lose jobs, and consumers may get something other than the goods they believe they have purchased. The problem of counterfeiting is complex and is aggravated by unusual circumstances which exist in the design and marketing of apparel and accessory products. In this study, I attempt to investigate counterfeiting from many different sides to form a composite picture of the complexity of this issue. I seek to find what the actual size and extent of the problem is in the fashion industry, and to answer these questions: Why has counterfeiting in the fashion industry suddenly emerged as a problem at this time? And what can be done to resolve the problem of counterfeiting in the fashion industry?
62 pages
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