A Florida A&M campus snapshot would reveal numerous students sporting top luxury brands along with their less expensive knock-offs.
Coach, Gucci, and Prada for handbags and accessories are among the most popular brands copied. Nike and Ralph Lauren Polo are also not immune to this issue.
Materials used to make luxury items are costly, but they are a real investment.
“Unlike a knock-off, our bags are made of genuine leather, said Smith. My grandmother has a Coach bag, and yes, it was expensive, but it has lasted for decades,” said Jermia Smith, a Coach representative.
Some consumers choose to invest in genuine merchandise, but there is also a large market for counterfeit goods.However there are special details that go into making each item truly unique.
“Each bag has a ‘Coach story’ printed along the inside with a style number that can be confirmed by our online database,” said Smith.
This industry accounts for 7 percent or $512 billion of world merchandise trade according to the World Customs Organization.
Many industry professionals encourage consumers to purchase name brand merchandise despite the higher price due to the high quality.
“You’re paying for quality. You can buy a fake bag for $60, but it is going to rip,” said Smith.
Despite the many benefits of buying brand names some students do not mind experimenting with counterfeit merchandise.
Ronald Fields,19, a second-year sports management student from Scotch Plains, N.J., remembers a particular incident that took place while he was visiting New York City’s famous Canal Street.
“A vendor approached me on the street and offered to make me a deal. When I agreed, he led me to a warehouse full of pocketbooks, sneakers, and jewelry, all for a really low price,” said Fields.
Once inside the secretive location Fields was offered a variety of items for very low prices.
Fields had no complaints about the quality of the shoes he purchased saying “I bought two pairs of Nike Air Jordans for $60. No one can tell that they are fake.”
At Nike.com the coveted sneakers usually sell for more than $200.
Controversy over the counterfeit industry continues to grow, but merchandise only holds as much value as the consumers give it.