Once a niche industry serving bargain hunters and rugged individualists, resale is now unquestionably mainstream. According to the 2020 Resale Report from Thred up, online sales of secondhand goods was projected to grow nearly 70 percent between 2019 and 2021. During the same time period, the broader retail sector was projected to shrink 15 percent.
Luxury goods are, of course, a big part of this burgeoning trade. With the high prices these items can fetch, they’re also a big target for counterfeiters. So at the same time we’re enjoying the democratization of luxury goods, we also say, “buyers AND sellers beware.”
Producers of counterfeit products may not have their ethics in order, but they sure do know manufacturing. In the past several years, Entrupy has seen a surge in “Superfakes,” a term for fake items that are so true to their authentic counterparts even the most experienced authenticator can be fooled. It’s rumored that some of these items are even manufactured in the very same factories as the legitimate goods.
As the resale industry thrives, there’s a real danger that these items will infiltrate the market. Imagine – a superfake slips through the careful eyes at a consignment shop. Because the shop has a great reputation, Buyer A has no doubts when she purchases it. A year later, she needs some cash, so she sells it on eBay. Now it’s in the hands of a third person, who also has every confidence it’s the real deal.
If that wasn’t enough of a problem, in the new era of resale, the production of these fakes is often encouraged by a niche, counterfeit-consumption culture. “Members” of this culture congregate online, often on forums like Reddit. Recently, we even found one on TikTok. Counterfeiters will reach out to these communities to incentivize feedback on the accuracy of their fakes. The more people report the items are close to the real deal, the more people will buy these superfakes.
Not only are these counterfeiters “good” when it comes to accuracy in production, they’re also fast. Mimicking the cycles of fast fashion retailers, they are incredibly efficient when it comes to discovering and imitating the next big style. Compounding matters, these unscrupulous folks will recruit employees of the real brand, who they reward for heads up on new releases and other intel. In February of this past year, 23 people including a number of former Hermès employees were charged for taking part in a long-running counterfeiting operation. In December 2019, a fake Louis Vuitton operation in China got busted. It was estimated to be worth $25.4. In this case, South China Morning Post reported 40 people were arrested, some of whom were real employees of the real Louis Vuitton,
“The saleswoman provided internal training materials, which included design and detailed graphs of bags not sold in China yet. Some designs were sold before the genuine ones reached retail stores — some ended up as far away as the Middle East.”
Now some good news! The Entrupy authentication solution is proven to spot superfakes that fly undetected to the naked eye. With our incomparable approach to authentication that uses machine learning and a robust data set, Entrupy’s artificial intelligence-driven solution can instantly recognize microscopic differences between a high-quality fake and an authentic item.
We chatted with Kristiina Warden, owner of online boutique Luxury Helsinki, about her experience with Entrupy. She credits Entrupy saving thousands of dollars while also effectively elevating trust between her and her customers.
Warden often receives requests from her customers to source specific styles of luxury handbags. Recently, someone reached out to see if she could secure three medium Chanel Flap bags in caviar leather. Without the bags in hand, she reached out to a secondhand shop in Paris, and was pleased to find that they could help her to fulfill the request. The seller quoted her $15,000 for all three, totally new handbags with receipts, allegedly coming straight from Italy.
When the bags arrived, she felt confident they were authentic. Her husband was more skeptical of the sellers’ ability to so quickly get their hands on the items. He suggested she verify their authenticity with Entrupy. She followed his advice, and upon scanning the bags with Entrupy, she was shocked and horrified to find all three received “unidentified” as a result.
A battle ensued between Warden and the unscrupulous seller who claimed the goods were legitimate. Luckily, she never delivered the fakes to the customer – a move that would most certainly damage her reputation – and she was able to recoup what she’d spent on the bags.