October 7, 2014

Say Yes to the Dress…Unless it’s a Counterfeit from China

By Sheryll Poe (cross-posted from U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blog)

Wedding season may be winding down and prom may be months away, but that isn’t stopping the senator from New Jersey from stepping up efforts to fight fake designer dresses.

The Hill reports:

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) expressed concern that counterfeit prom dresses from China are flooding the U.S. market.

“The domestic prom and bridal dress industry is increasingly under threat from Chinese dress manufacturers and websites that sell counterfeit goods directly to U.S. consumers,” Menendez wrote in a letter sent to Lev Kubiak, director of the Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.

Menendez said counterfeiting of U.S.-designed and branded clothes harms the economy and is “ripping off consumers.”

“The effects of this direct-to-consumer sale of counterfeit goods negatively impacts companies, consumers, and taxpayers alike,” Menendez wrote over the weekend. “American companies that invest in the design, marketing, and manufacturing, and distribution of prom and bridal dresses are losing sales to Chinese firms that flagrantly violate U.S. law.”

While it may sound like all glitter and flounces, it’s serious business, the Daily Caller notes:

Menendez estimates that around 700,000 counterfeit bridal and prom dresses make their way into the United States every year, which costs U.S. companies around $1 billion dollars, since domestic companies take great pains to invest in design and marketing. Comparatively, foreign companies with knockoffs only have to convince customers to buy what appears to be the same product—without hope for a refund.

If something isn’t done about the problem, there’s going to be more than just disappointed brides and disgruntled teens complaining. Small business owners are going to take a hit, as well.  “They’re losing business because the Chinese and others are pirating marketing images from U.S. designers to make them look real,” Menendez told CBS New York. “There’s a difference between competition and ripoffs. When you get ripped off you’re not going to be happy.”

Menendez visited New Jersey bridal boutique Say I Do earlier this month to talk faux fashion with boutique owner Adrienne Castellano, who says she experiences the problem daily:

“Competing with these online dealers peddling cheap designer knockoffs is a constant struggle,” Castellano said in the release.

“They are stealing money out of my family’s pocket, ripping off my customers and turning what should be a bride’s greatest moment into her worst nightmare.”

Menendez is calling on the Obama Administration to focus enforcement efforts on websites distributing counterfeit goods, and he is proposing legislation to beef up customs enforcement to curb the flow of counterfeit gowns into the country.

Read more about counterfeit prom dresses on the Global Intellectual Property Center’s blog as well as their 10 handy tips for buying trusted brands online.

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