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Who is buying China’s luxury fakes?

A topic that went viral on China’s Weibo in recent weeks concerned a number of online shoppers who bought Gucci belts from Vipshop on its Weibo platform. The belts were priced at RMB 2549 ($360). Except they weren’t, allegedly, Gucci — and were identified as fakes by Dewu, another shopping platform.

Vipshop’s official Weibo account issued a statement saying the product was authentic, even attaching confirmation in the form of a report issued by the China Certification and Inspection Group (CCIC) in Guangdong as well as other relevant product certifications. Dewu countered that the report itself was a fake and attached four third-party appraisals as support, including one from CCIC in Shanghai.

Gucci released a statement through its official customer service, effectively saying that the brand can only guarantee the authenticity of products purchased through its official website and Tmall International – and that it does not provide any form of authentication service.

Controversies about counterfeit products on China’s e-commerce platforms are nothing new, and there’s a complex culture around fakes and their continued prevalence. Research suggests a certain group of young consumers appear to be entirely aware that they’re buying fakes. For them, buying imitations might be a shortcut to conspicuous consumption or simply a means of poking fun at society.



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