Chinese designer fakes are so convincing that it takes a microscope to tell they are fake

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Counterfeit designer goods so close to the real thing that only a microscope can tell they are fake are being sold for less than 1 percent of the retail price of genuine products on a China-run website.

As part of an investigation into online sales of high-quality knockoff clothing, bags and shoes from luxury labels such as Chanel and Hermes, The Mail on Sunday bought four items for less than £160 which would cost almost £27,000 if purchased from legitimate retailers.

The products offered for sale by individual merchants on the online marketplace DHgate are described as replicas of exclusive goods and depicted without branding.

But through word of mouth and social media posts, shoppers know that many of the products come in boxes and dust bags adorned with the names and artwork of the world’s biggest design houses. Some are also accompanied by genuine-looking authentication documents.

Mail on Sunday reporter Molly Clayton (pictured) has ordered copies of luxury goods from a Chinese website, including a Hermes bag, a pair of Louboutin shoes, a Chanel handbag and a Canada Goose coat

<a class=Counterfeit designer goods so close to the real thing that only a microscope can tell they are counterfeits are being sold on China-run website DHgate for less than one percent of the retail price of genuine products. Pictured: CEO of “DHGate.com” Diane Wang” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Counterfeit designer goods so close to the real thing that only a microscope can tell they are counterfeits are being sold on China-run website DHgate for less than one percent of the retail price of genuine products. Pictured: CEO of “DHGate.com” Diane Wang

A handbag advertised as a “quality classic shoulder bag in genuine caviar leather” was priced at £51 and although unbranded, looked in shape and style with a Chanel Classic Flap handbag which normally retails for £7,140 in retail is available.

A Kelly style bag from Hermes was described on DHgate as a “square shoulder handbag” and cost £9.58 – the original is £18,000.

A fake Canada Goose coat was available for £71 and was advertised with no branding or logos. The original costs £1,200.

And a pair of shoes advertised as “genuine leather with red heels” costing £27 appeared identical to a £600 pair of Louboutins, save for the lack of branding.

When the products arrived in the UK they were all in branded boxes, dust bags and with tags attached. They also had fake authentication slips and serial numbers.

All transactions went through DHgate, a fast-growing company founded by former Microsoft executive Diane Wang, making it almost impossible to determine the identity of the original retailers or manufacturers.

The site, which operates similarly to Amazon, offers thousands of such products, some with discounts for bulk purchases and free shipping to the UK.

Experts expressed their grudging admiration for the counterfeit goods, with one saying she was only sure a product was counterfeit after examining it under a microscope.

A fake Canada Goose coat was available for £71 and was advertised with no branding or logos.  The original costs £1,200

A fake Canada Goose coat was available for £71 and was advertised with no branding or logos. The original costs £1,200

And a pair of shoes advertised as

And a pair of shoes advertised as “genuine leather with red heels” costing £27 appeared identical to a £600 pair of Louboutins, save for the lack of branding

A Kelly style bag from Hermes was described on DHgate as a

A Kelly style bag from Hermes was described on DHgate as a “square shoulder handbag” and cost £9.58 – the original is £18,000

Alex Ibrahimov, Founder of Sellier designer brands resale platform, said: “As a professional I can see that these items are counterfeits, but to the naked eye or someone walking by on the street they are good replicas.

There is a real problem with counterfeit goods circulating online. This is especially true in online marketplaces where sales take place between private sellers and private buyers without the intermediary of a professional authenticator to verify the items.’

DHgate has over 2.2 million sellers and 31 million registered buyers worldwide from more than 220 countries and regions with 22 million products available.

It was founded in 2004 by Ms. Wang, 54, who is the Chinese representative for the G20 Economic Summit and a member of the High Level Advisory Board of the World Internet Conference, an annual event that discusses online safety and security.

Lawyers say it’s difficult for designer brands to crack down on scammers. Waterfront Law’s Matthew Harris said: “One of the main issues is that this particular site is a marketplace, meaning the main site only supports individual sellers. You can take one down and another just pops up – it’s a mole smack game.’

DHgate has over 2.2 million sellers and 31 million registered buyers worldwide from more than 220 countries and regions with 22 million products available

DHgate has over 2.2 million sellers and 31 million registered buyers worldwide from more than 220 countries and regions with 22 million products available

A handbag advertised as a “quality classic shoulder bag in genuine caviar leather” was priced at £51 and although unbranded, looked in shape and style with a Chanel Classic Flap handbag which normally retails for £7,140 in retail is available

A handbag advertised as a “quality classic shoulder bag in genuine caviar leather” was priced at £51 and although unbranded, looked in shape and style with a Chanel Classic Flap handbag which normally retails for £7,140 in retail is available

A Kelly style bag from Hermes was described on DHgate as a

A Kelly style bag from Hermes was described on DHgate as a “square shoulder handbag” and cost £9.58 – the original is £18,000

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which monitors the global trade in counterfeit goods, leather accessories account for 42 percent of all counterfeits seized. However, unless an intellectual property right, trademark or design is registered in China, it is difficult to take legal action against counterfeiters.

“While some brands are trying to take legal action, it’s generally a difficult task as it’s not a priority for many countries,” said Piotr Stryszowski, senior project manager responsible for the OECD’s anti-trafficking task force.

“Also, with complex global supply chains, it’s difficult to define where the counterfeiters were located and who the responsible enforcement entities are.”

Products claimed by DHgate on its platform will be inspected by quality control experts before shipment, and dishonest seller accounts will be blacklisted and closed.

Chanel said it prosecuted counterfeiters in court and that its cooperation with law enforcement agencies in 80 countries led to the seizure of more than 7.5 million cheap imitations of its products last year. A spokesman added: “The fight against counterfeit goods is a major concern of Chanel.”

DHgate declined comment.

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