It’s no surprise that more of us have been shopping online recently. With lockdowns, social distancing and shop closures a plenty, online shopping has dramatically increased since the start of the pandemic.
This means greater choice when it comes to finding the best deal for you. But there are also more ways to buy a fake instead of the real thing.
When it comes to designer clothing, many savvy shoppers turn to Depop or Ebay to get a piece of luxury for less. But some people would rather fake it...
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently revealed that global trade for counterfeit brands is estimated at around £500 billion a year. So we wanted to find out which brands people want to buy fake versions of the most. But also, if you’re looking for the genuine article, how can you tell the difference between a fake product and a real one?
By analysing search data, we can reveal Swiss watchmaker Rolex is the most in demand counterfeit brand, with a huge 228,000 online searches for ‘fake Rolex’ made every year. Known for being one of the best luxury watch labels in the world, prices for a real Rolex watch start at a minimum of £4,000, with some of their models exceeding £17 million at auction.
Second on the list is Louis Vuitton, a Parisian brand founded in 1854 made famous for its brown monogram printed bags. There are 118,800 searches every year for fake versions of its signature products.
Following Louis Vuitton, is Gucci, which is one of the most shared brands on social media thanks to its much adored Double G Buckle belt. And as a result, 87,600 searches are made for ‘fake Gucci’ products each year.
|Brand Name||Annual Searches|
Designer handbags are often one of those ‘treat yourself’ items that many people choose to save up for. But with many high-end bags costing thousands, some people dodge the premium price tag by opting for an illegal counterfeit option instead.
Our research showed Louis Vuitton bags are the most coveted, with 36,000 searches made by people looking for a ‘fake Louis Vuitton bag’ each year. This proves the popularity of the iconic brown Damier print hasn’t waned since it was first released in 1888.
Often seen on the likes of Sienna Miller, Beyonce and J-Lo, Gucci is second on the list, with 19,200 annual searches for ‘fake Gucci bag’. Although we’d assume these A-Listers are wearing the authentic version. Fake Prada bags are third on the list, followed by Chanel, and then Michael Kors.
|Bag Brand||Annual Searches|
|1||Louis vuitton bag||36,000|
|5||Michael Kors bag||3,600|
Our research also looked into the demand for imitation versions of iconic products from luxury brands. This revealed the most wanted counterfeit product is a Gucci belt, with 56,400 annual searches made by people who’d prefer not to pay the starting price of £260 for the authentic product.
A verified celebrity staple seen on Jennifer Aniston and Gigi Hadid are the Gucci Slides. These see 15,600 searches every year for knock-off versions, followed by the brainchild of Kanye West, Yeezy Boost 350 trainers.
Interestingly, Gucci takes up four positions in the Top 10 list. ‘Fake Gucci belt’ sees the most searches, ‘fake Gucci slides’ are second on the list, ‘fake Gucci shirt’ is the fourth most in demand counterfeit product with 8,400 annual searches, and ‘fake Gucci t-shirt’ rounds off the Top 10 list in 10th position with 4,800 searches.
|Branded Product||Annual Searches|
|3||Yeezy Boost 350||12,000|
|5||Louis Vuitton Wallet||7,200|
|6||Balenciaga Triple S||7,200|
|7||Louis Vuitton Belt||5,400|
|8||Yeezy SPLY 350||5,400|
|9||Louis Vuitton Backpack||4,800|
|10||Gucci T Shirt||4,800|
If it seems too good to be true…
With hundreds of thousands of searches for fake products made each year, online shopping is helping to fuel dupe culture. And although the act of purchasing a counterfeit item isn’t illegal, the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods is.
Paying a fraction of the cost of a genuine product may seem appealing, but buying counterfeit goods often comes with risks and we strongly recommend against purchasing fake products. Aside from getting a dodgy, poor-quality imitation, other risks include:
Purchasing an item that could be harmful to you
Using an unsecured website that can compromise your personal details
Funding slave labour, exploitation and smuggling
And it’s not just big designer brands with sky high prices that are being copied. Counterfeit electrical goods aren’t subjected to the same safety checks and can therefore be very dangerous. Fake medicines, alcohol and food aren’t taken through the same rigorous safety procedures as legal items, and the damage can potentially be fatal.
So if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is…
Start off by ensuring you’re on the best broadband package for you. Then when you’re shopping online, there are lots of tell-tale signs that indicate a site could be unsafe. So here are our top tips to help you shop safely online:
Look for typos: Typos in the text are a great indicator it’s a scam site.
Returns policy: If there isn’t a clear way to return products, this is an instant red flag.
Contact the site: If there’s no contact information, like a phone number or email address, or there are no links to their social media accounts, it suggests the site is designed to scam people, rather than offer great customer service.
Spot HTTPS: Look at the website's URL to see if it has ‘https’ included. If it does, that means the payment page is secure and encrypted, which prevents people from accessing your passwords and bank details. If you can’t see ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL, do not enter any personal information.
Look at customer reviews: Reviews are a goldmine to inform future purchases, so it’s worth looking at the review section to look for comments relating to ‘fake’ goods or ‘a rip-off’. If there’s no review section, search for reviews off site.
Research the retailer: Thanks to numerous review platforms (like Feefo and Trustpilot) you can usually get a good idea of whether a site is reputable or not by reading real customer reviews. If the average score is very low and people have complained about fake products, not receiving products, or being scammed out of money, it’s probably best to avoid.
Ensure up-to-date security: Firewalls and security software are great at protecting you from harmful websites. Keep these updated to ensure you’re always warned of a potential threat before entering the site.
When it comes to working out if a product is real or not, alongside brand specific things like logo inconsistencies, here are some tips to make sure you only buy authentic products:
Shop from a reputable retailer: Shopping direct from the brand’s own site or from reputable retailers is one of the best ways to ensure you won’t be ripped off.
Assess the ‘bargain’: If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. For example, if you see a product that typically retails at £500 being sold for £50, this should be a big red flag.
Spelling errors: Typos within product descriptions, product names, or even the website URL are all huge indicators that the product is counterfeit.
Directly compare to the manufacturer’s website: If you have found a website selling your dream handbag for 50% less than it’s RRP, check the product you are looking at against the manufacturer’s official site. This way ,you can spot differences in design and check the product description to see if the materials match up with each other. You may even find that this product isn’t sold by the official designer at all.
Using the top brands listed on Flannels and Net-a-Porter, we created three data sets of designer products including: the most popular designer labels, the most popular designer bags, and most popular designer products. We paired each term with the word ‘fake’ and used Ahrefs search tool to gather the number of annual global searches for each search term. We ordered the results from high to low to create a ranking order. Data correct as of July 2021.