On Wednesday, the French fashion house filed a complaint in a New York federal court accusing The RealReal of selling counterfeit Chanel bags despite presenting them as 100 percent authentic.
In the complaint, according to The Fashion Law, Chanel said the resale site: “through its business advertising and marketing practices, has attempted to deceive consumers into falsely believing that The RealReal has some kind of approval from or an association or affiliation with Chanel or that all Chanel-branded goods sold by The RealReal are authentic.”
Making clear that it has had no affiliation with The RealReal, Chanel reportedly noted in the complaint that it “recently learned that The RealReal has sold ‘at least 7’ counterfeit Chanel handbags” that are “vastly inferior and materially different from genuine Chanel products,” The Fashion Law noted. Moreover, Chanel claimed the serial numbers that authenticate the alleged counterfeit bags don’t correspond with the actual numbers designated for that particular style.
Chanel is charging The RealReal with trademark infringement, counterfeiting, false advertising, and unfair competition, among other things, and is seeking monetary damages as well as an injunction that, if the court rules in its favor, would force The RealReal to stop selling any counterfeit goods.
The RealReal, however, believes Chanel’s claims to be what’s false in the whole thing.
A representative for The RealReal told Sourcing Journal, “The RealReal unequivocally rejects Chanel’s claims. Chanel’s lawsuit is nothing more than a thinly-veiled effort to stop consumers from reselling their authentic used goods, and to prevent customers from buying those goods at discounted prices.”
It’s not the first time this year Chanel has made strides to hit back at resale for what it deems are its errs. In March, the luxury brand filed a similar complaint against luxury vintage accessories store, What Goes Around Comes Around, alleging that it, too, was selling counterfeit Chanel goods and deceiving consumers into believing that the two companies had dealings. What Goes Around Comes Around said the claims were “unfounded.”
However, it isn’t the first—or second—time The RealReal has been accused of selling fakes either, drawing its clear-cut claims about authentication into question.
On its site, The RealReal, which claims to have “an expert behind every item,” says “We employ 50+ brand authenticators, gemologists, horologists and art curators. They inspect thousands of items each day, so you can be sure every item is 100 percent authentic.”
In January this year, popular fashion Instagram account @Diet_Prada, called The RealReal out for selling a dress marked as Prada when, in fact, it wasn’t. The RealReal ended up re-authenticating the product—which it says it does for between one and five items each month—and offering the original buyer a refund.
For its case against The RealReal, Chanel also wants the consignment site to prominently display on its materials and in any promotions or marketing, verbiage “to notify potential consumers that the purported authenticity of the products for sale by TheRealReal is not verified or authenticated by Chanel and that Chanel does not guarantee items sold by The RealReal are genuine,” according to The Fashion Law.
“They are trying to stop the circular economy,” The RealReal told Sourcing Journal. “The RealReal stands behind its authenticity guarantee and will continue to provide a safe and reliable platform for consumers to resell luxury items.”