French luxury brands including Chanel, Dior and Longchamp have started a campaign to fight the multi-billion dollar worldwide trade in counterfeit goods.
The brands, forming part of the Comite Colbert group, say forgeries of luxury goods made in France cost the country up to six billion euros a year in lost revenue.
The Comite Colbert estimates the world's economy loses more than one trillion dollars a year to counterfeiting and piracy—a figure projected to be as much as 1.7 trillion dollars by 2015.
And the trade is increasing, with over forty times as many counterfeit goods seized at French customs last year as in 1994.
Boxes full of watches, sunglasses and handbags are regularly seized, sorted and shredded at locations all over France. The counterfeit trade doesn’t stop at handbags and belts. Clothes, medicine and car parts are also found in the hauls.
Besides companies losing out on their products sale, there’s also a human cost to consider when buying fake goods.
[Nathalie Moulle-Berteaux, Lacoste Representative]:
"I think we have to keep on repeating it, repeating that at the end of the chain you have workshops which do not respect human working conditions or the environment and that we have to fight against that all together."
General Director of French luxury brand Longchamp says China is the main producer of the fakes.
[Jean Cassegrain, General Director, Longchamp]:
"85% of the counterfeited products seized by the customs in Europe arrive from China, so China is the number one place of manufacture of the counterfeited products. But the buyers are mostly westerners. They are Europeans or Americans for most of them."
And the problem has worsened in the last few years thanks to the Internet. Where once potential buyers had to go overseas to buy forgeries, they are now only a double click from buying them online.
And that’s why the Comite Colbert has secured the help of the French Post Office for their sixth anti-forgery campaign, launched this week.