Purchasing that counterfeit Chanel handbag to save some money may seem innocent, but in reality, it's a choice that has many hidden, dark implications that you may not even be aware of.
It is reported that the sales of counterfeit goods globally in 2020 will exceed $1.8 trillion USD - an increase of 0.8 trillion since 2017. The reason the counterfeit industry is thriving and growing at such a rapid pace is because sellers recognize the demand from consumers for counterfeit handbags and other goods.
If you've ever intentionally purchased a fake handbag, you may have thought it was a big win because of how much money you saved. However, the sale from the bag is used to fund several illegal and unethical business operations.
Here are a few scary truths about the counterfeit handbag industry, and why you should always think twice before purchasing a fake.
Scary Truth 1: Sweatshops
A harsh, frightening truth associated with the counterfeit industry is sweatshops.
Many criminal 'recruiters' actively seek men, women, and children who are struggling to earn a living/come from a struggling background, and promise them a 'great job' or a 'better opportunity' as a way to traffic them to work in sweatshop.
Once the workers arrive at the shop, they can be forced to work up to 12 to 16+ hours a day with a severely low wage that is barely enough to survive off of.
The physical condition of the factor is also reported as being hazardous, with poor air quality, over-crowding, and dangerous set-ups that lead to workplace-injuries.
Scary Truth 2: Human Trafficking
As briefly mentioned in our first 'scary truth,' human trafficking is a harsh reality in the world of fake branded goods.
'Recruiters' promise victims a better life, and rich work opportunities in an attempt to manipulate them. Once victims agree, the recruiters purposely inform them about the costs associated with traveling/relocating to the city/country where the factory resides, knowing the victims cannot afford the trip. The recruiter then offers to cover the costs for the victim to 'help' them.
Once the victim(s) arrive at the factory, and quickly discover the hazardous, insanitary and terrible working conditions and wage, they are trapped. They have no funds or any means of transportation back to their home. If they try and leave, they are told they need to work of their debt, and may be physically and mentally abused.
Scary Truth 3: Child Labour
Child Labour is also a hidden, dark reality in the world of counterfeit handbags and goods. Children below the the age of 10, are chained to sewing machines and are fed less than 2 meals a day. Some children are brutally abused and tortured if they show any signs of interest in anything other than work.
In her book 'How Luxury Lost Its Luster' Dana Thomas explores the counterfeit industry and reports an incident of an investigator walking in on an assembly line of a counterfeit handbag factory in Thailand.
'I remember walking into an assembly plant in Thailand a couple of years ago and seeing six or seven little children, all under 10 years old, sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags...the owners had broken the children's legs and tied the lower leg to the thigh so the bones wouldn't mend. [They] did it because the children said they wanted to go outside and play.'
Scary, isn't it?
Scary Truth 4: Terrorism Funding
Many organizations have reported the increasing involvement of terrorist groups in the distribution of counterfeit goods.
UNIFAB has reported many terrorist groups who are known to fund their criminal operations using the sales they generate from selling fake branded products.
For example, after the 2015 Terrorist attack in Paris, it was confirmed that one of the terrorist's involved in the attack sold counterfeit brand-name products to arrange the funds to purchase weapons for the operation.
Shop ethical, and support authentic brands
Education and awareness about your purchases and choices as a consumer and the impact they have is crucial. Instead of opting to purchase a counterfeit bag, there are many ways to save on luxury items, like shopping pre-owned.
Support ethical, authentic businesses, and help reduce the growth and spread of the counterfeit industry.