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Knockoffs Cost European Fashion Brands Billions in Lost Revenue

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Fast-fashion retailers Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters often come under fire for copying runway clothing and accessories and selling them at bargain-basement prices, and many New York City tourists trek down to Chinatown daily in search of knockoff purses. But for such storied European design houses as Louis Vuitton and Chanel, the counterfeit industry steals more than their styles.

Knockoff clothing, footwear and accessories cost European brands a whopping 26.3 billion euros annually, or nearly $30 billion, and resulted in the direct loss of 363,000 jobs across the industry’s manufacturing, retail and wholesale sectors, according to a report released Tuesday by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM).

In Italy alone, fakes cost manufacturers, retailers and distributors around 4.5 billion euros per year in lost sales (nearly $5 billion) and more than 50,000 jobs. Germany and Spain have been hit hard, too, each suffering 3.5 billion euros ($3.8 billion) worth of losses annually.

And OHIM expects those numbers to climb: “When the knock-on effects on suppliers are taken into account, legitimate businesses across the EU lose 43.3 billion euros ($47.5 billion) of sales revenue because of counterfeiting, with around 518,000 jobs lost,” the study said. Not to mention, since counterfeiters don’t pay taxes, more than 8 billion euros (nearly $9 billion) worth of government revenue across the EU is not collected.

“With this report we can put a figure on the economic impact of counterfeiting and its consequences in terms of lost revenue and jobs at EU level in the clothing, shoes and accessories sector. These results will not only help policy makers in their work, they will also help consumers make more informed choices,” Antonio Campinos, OHIM president, said in a statement.

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