I’ve always had a passion for fashion and, being based in Italy, I’m afforded the opportunity see firsthand the creations of the greatest designers in the world on a regular basis. However, every new color, form, design and fashion show inspires not only the fashion world at-large, but also the underground world of counterfeits. Walk around in any major city and you’ll see stalls upon stalls of knock-off designs created to mirror the real thing – and the problem is even greater online.
Therefore, you can imagine my delight when the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and eBay announced they would be working in tandem to take on design piracy with their third annual “You Can’t Fake Fashion” campaign. More than 90 American designers, including Diane von Furstenberg and Ralph Lauren have agreed to each design a one-of-a-kind tote bag to go up for auction on eBay to benefit the CFDA’s anti-counterfeiting efforts. This got me to thinking about the steps OpSec offers to fashion brands looking to establish successful brand protection programs. Here they are:
- Step one: Adopt a multipronged brand protection program, this should feature an effective combination of
- Technologies tailored for the luxury brand to be integrated into each product and/or labeling process;
- Track and trace services to follow products through the distribution chain
- IP Enforcement through all available legal channels to ensure that the brand’s “secret sauce” is not misrepresented or hurtful to consumers.
- Step two: Raise the anti-counterfeiting culture within your organization by establishing a cross-functional team tasked with championing and coordinating responses to counterfeiting, which should now be classified as corporate risk and not a legal issue. Key stakeholders for this team should include:
- Product development
- Marketing & Sales
- Production & Distribution
Focus on core areas such as: brand integrity, revenue optimization, consumer protection & awareness.
- Step three: Develop specific programs to help monitor, analyze and secure all aspects of production to ensure there is as little risk of counterfeiting as possible. Identify critical threat and conduct a thorough assessment and risk analysis.
- What is the major vulnerability (e.g. brand dilution, consumer confidence, financial impact)?
- What is the size and level of the impact of this threat on revenues?
- Is this a case of controlling supply & distribution? Are there leaks through distribution and old stock management? Is someone copying the product and/or utilizing your trademark?
The more active a fashion brand is in fighting counterfeits, the more protection they can offer their consumers so they don’t get ripped off by poorly designed knock-offs. Because, at the end of the day, fakes truly aren’t fabulous.