With millions of pairs of jeans produced annually, the denim market is a popular and large target for the imitation industry, and no doubt a growing concern for many companies. Simply put, the more successful and well-known a brandname, for example Levi’s, the more likely it will inspire pirated copies.
High prices, shortages of the original product, easy reproducibility, and high customs taxes may all increase the temptation to produce counterfeits as well. On the consumer side, even children as young as twelve years old have begun to demonstrate a high brand awareness and are driven to have the same ‘cool’ stuff as their peers. Thus, if they can’t access it, many are willing to meet this desire by purchasing fake or imitation products.
There is a wide range of fakes for each attempted knockoff – ranging from very poor quality up to legitimately high-end products that are comprised of the original materials, parts and workmanship. Though fake are produced world-wide, the following examples are from Thailand.
This Evisu fake below is a low quality sample, yet it seems to have an original leather patch:
Another way to damage a successful brandname is by “free-loadering”, or setting up a new but similar label, which often ends in a brand war. The lawsuit between Levis and Evis is a classic example.
Evis was legally forced to change its brand name to Evisu, and use a different sea gull icon instead of the arcuate logo. They also had to eliminate the red tab on the right back pocket. A bizarre hybrid between these two iconic brands can be seen below
Fakes are often sold online, in crowded market places, unofficial shops, bazaar’s and through personal contacts. Buyers range from those who can’t afford the originals (or deem them overpriced) to those who don’t care about brands or are in to collecting fakes for curiosities sake. Of course there’s the group who just don’t realize the faulty items are not authentic.
The Wrangler pants below right could be such an example, where the average customer may not recognize them as imitation. The garment is made from a very stiff raw denim fabric with some original parts like the top button and other tags. These pants are professionally constructed with some wrong details (measurements on the back pockets or 2 missing belt loops). They also feature a selvedge in the coin pocket and have a full redline selvedge.
The cinch back redline pants below have a strong raw denim fabric, buttons with leaves and plain rivets, though the arcuates are erroneously placed quite low. Including the red flag and the cinch back, they try to appear as a Levis 201 jean without naming them as such.
This Levis 501 Big E Repro fake has original buttons, but plain rivets. Watch out for the unusual selvedge on the coin pocket and at the back side center belt loop
Some fakes have humorous touches like those visible on the following pants, another fake attributed to the classic Levis 501 Big E. The word JEANS is stamped on the top button and LIKE is printed on the red tab instead of Levis.
On the off-chance this wasn’t quite enough, the horses on the back label have morphed into hippos, and notably the arcuates are completely missing.
As arguably the most ubiquitous garment on earth, the fight against denim forgeries and fakes will likely be an endless and difficult battle for brands and consumers alike.
To avoid any fake surprises, consumers should make note of ridiculously cheap prices, poor quality, wrong details, blatantly missing stitching, and missing or strange tags with misspellings. More information is available from the following sources.
- Guide to Spotting Fake Denim, By Scott Root, eHow Contributor
- Fake Denim in China and Brazil, Dr Rosana Pinheiro-Machado
- Fake! How to spot counterfeit vintage Levi’s
- How to Spot Fake Diesel Jeans, eBay Guides
- Denim Detective for Seven For All Mankind
- Paige denim company
- True Religion Denim, Fakes or Not Guide, Part 4
- Denim Party bust on ABC7