In addition to posting a bigger-than-expected 13 percent rise in core profits for 2014, Italian design house Salvatore Ferragamo has been working over time to fight the sale of counterfeit versions of its luxury products. According to a statement from the house, it prevented the sale of $7 million worth of counterfeit products from being sold online and in Chinese marketplaces in 2014 alone. The design house further states it nearly 100,000 fake products sold across 350 websites as part of a joint campaign with Chinese authorities, which has been continuing for “several seasons." Chairman Ferruccio Ferragamo released a statement outlining the efforts, saying: “In 2014, we increased the number of e-commerce sites that we monitor. In China, we have also expanded our offline checks, targeting trade fairs and resellers in particular." Ferragamo also said: "We will further intensify our commitment to fighting counterfeiting in 2015, both to protect our intellectual property rights and to defend our customers. In this way, we will continue to wage this war with great determination, expanding controls both online and offline and ramping up anti-counterfeit measures, including with the customs authorities.”
The group attributed its success to increasing co-operation from local and international legislators, which it said were becoming aware of the seriousness of the problem and had been “updating legislation to defend the rights of those suffering the effects of piracy and fakes."
In the past luxury houses have been reluctant to speak out publicly about the problem of counterfeiting, but that is changing as the cost to European brands, in particular, steadily increases. The World Customs Organization estimated that the sale of counterfeit goods costs European brands approximately $7.5 billion a year, an estimated that 10 per cent of total world trade in the fashion industry.
Ferragamo is not the only house ramping up its efforts to fight fakes and talking about it. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, for instance, which owns Christian Dior, Givenchy, Loewe, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton, among others, has "over the last three years, taken extensive actions in China, Korea, Thailand and Italy" to fight fakes. According to a statement from the luxury conglomerate: "The luxury industry is particularly hard-hit by the counterfeiting of goods, which unlawfully takes advantage of the prestige of its brands and harms their tradition, identity and image. As part of its broader brand protection policy, the fight against this problem -often linked with organized crime- is one of the LVMH Group's priorities. The Group coordinates these anti-counterfeiting actions, particularly involving relations with the authorities in different countries, or actions taken directly against counterfeiters. Some sixty people at various levels of responsibility work full time on anti-counterfeiting, in collaboration with a wide network of outside investigators and a team of lawyers."
LVMH's rival Kering, which has a portfolio of brands that includes Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga, among others, is notably cooperating with Chinese online retail giant, Alibaba, to stem the sale of fake products after Kering withdrew a 2014 lawsuit that alleged Alibaba participated in violating trademarks. According to a statement from Kering, "Counterfeiting is 'perhaps the single greatest threat to brand owners,' citing reports filed before Congress that said it 'costs U.S. businesses between $200 and $250 billion every year and results in 750,000 lost jobs.'” Counterfeits of Kering brands such as Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga proliferate on the Internet shopping platforms of Alibaba, the Paris-based company said in its now-settled lawsuit against Alibaba.
As for Hermès, the house has stated that it is "very active in the fight against counterfeiting." The iconic design house, which is responsible for the in-demand and often copied Birkin and Kelly bags, said in a statement: "A team of legal experts is responsible for protecting the Group's creations and defending them against any violations. This team carries out many actions, which include both preventative measures (training and lobbying) and coercive measures (administrative, civil and criminal proceedings)." It further held: "These actions are implemented worldwide with special attention given to the Internet, which currently represents the primary vehicle for the sale of counterfeit products."