Louis Vuitton may be beating the odds doing healthy business in the age of coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean it’s battle against counterfeits has taken a backseat. Its latest bust of fakes, however, involved two things the heritage brand did not anticipate: top-notch tech and its own employee.
In a plot that seems ripe for cinematic treatment, a sales representative from the French luxury brand’s Guangzhou store is alleged to have repeatedly sold bags ahead of their launch at a significant markup to counterfeiting organizations. This headstart gave them enough of a lead to produce the fakes in time to correspond with the release of the genuine article, according to a report from WWD.
The police force in Shanghai took 62 criminal gangs into custody last month for hawking the fake bags and, in the process, seized dozens of sets of counterfeit manufacturing equipment along with 2,000 fraudulent bags and 100,000 pieces of raw material worth approximately $14.6 million.
While many counterfeit luxury goods are given away by their poor quality, these well-produced examples actually had the inverse problem––the incorporation of advanced technology not yet implemented into genuine Vuitton merchandise. Created with NFC sensor chips, the bags directed buyers to the official Louis Vuitton website once scanned. Though real Vuitton bags don’t yet include them, other luxury labels such as Moncler and Salvatore Ferragamo have used these chips as futuristic signs of authenticity. But Vuitton is investing generously in anti-counterfeiting measures, including last year’s launch of the Aura platform to help clients trace the provenance of their purchases, so it may not be long before they take the step.
“Louis Vuitton has a zero-tolerance policy in regards to counterfeiting and this remains one of Louis Vuitton’s main commitments to its clients,” the brand told WWD. “Counterfeiting is the violation of the craftsmen’s talent, skills and the creativity of the artists to whom Louis Vuitton owes its success. Louis Vuitton is more determined than ever to preserve creativity in protecting its brand in the interest of its clients, its employees, and those who suffer at the hands of the counterfeiting industry.”