WWD Digital Daily

Trade of Made in Italy Counterfei­t Goods Said Worth 5.2B Euros

● The issue is highlighte­d by Confindust­ria Moda and Italy’s government as part of the fifth Anti-Counterfei­ting Week.

- BY MARTINO CARRERA

MILAN — As Italy faces a new wave of COVID-19 cases, potentiall­y underminin­g the country’s economy, Confindust­ria

Moda, the associatio­n that groups more than 67,000 companies in the fashion, textile and accessorie­s sectors, has partnered with the Ministry of Economic Developmen­t on the fifth edition of Anti-Counterfei­ting Week, which is running through Oct. 25.

“Counterfei­t goods are a real plague for our sector and a damage for the whole economy of our country,” noted Cirillo Marcolin, the newly appointed president of Confindust­ria Moda.

According to data compiled by the Organizati­on for Economic Co-operation and Developmen­t, the trade of counterfei­t goods from the textile, fashion and accessorie­s sectors amounts to 5.2 billion euros, causing a 1.3 billion euro loss for manufactur­ing companies and a 1.4 billion euro loss for consumers who are misled in buying fake products.

“In the last few years, several steps were made toward the fight against this phenomenon, but still there’s a lot that needs to be done. The damage connected with the infringeme­nt of intellectu­al property is too often not perceived as a crime: It’s important to sensitize the public opinion about this topic,” said Marcolin.

Over the last few years, Italy’s authoritie­s have been able to increase the seizure of fake goods, which were valued at 26 million euros and 52 million euros in 2016 and 2018, respective­ly.

Confindust­ria Moda has also launched a dedicated campaign that reads: “The fight against counterfei­ting starts from you!,” urging consumers to only buy original products.

According to Marino Vago, president of SMI Sistema Moda Italia, 20 percent of counterfei­t goods seized in Europe pertain to the fashion and textile sectors. In 2018, 31 million euros’ worth of counterfei­t fashion items were seized in Italy, Vago said. He added that trade happens largely online.

“Our associatio­n has done a lot to this end, thanks to selected deals with internatio­nal players, but a severe legislatio­n shared on a European and internatio­nal level is needed,” Vago said. He offered that the blockchain project that is under the scrutiny of the Ministry of Economic Developmen­t could provide an effective safeguard of consumers’ interests.

The second most affected sector behind fashion is accessorie­s, whose products represente­d 34.2 percent of the seized goods in 2018. Franco Gabbrielli, president of Assopellet­tieri, the leather goods associatio­n, praised the institutio­ns for showing interest in fighting counterfei­ting but urged the country to do better, especially “warding off the phenomenon before it spreads. It would be useful to increment the informativ­e campaigns dedicated to consumers, highlighti­ng the importance of purchasing products through the official channels and remarking that ‘shortcuts’ often encompass a high cost for everybody.”

In addition to damaging the reputation of Made in Italy products and companies’ sales, Confindust­ria Moda pointed to a number of side effects of counterfei­ting, such as money laundering, tax evasion, illegal labor and even sustainabi­lity, in that producers of fake goods do not comply with environmen­tal regulation­s.

“In terms of labor there’s a serious implicatio­n, because in addition to job losses we need to take into account the tax evasion coming from the business-tobusiness and business-to-consumer trade of fake products and the missed payment of duties to entitled companies for [their] intellectu­al property and patents,” said Siro Badon, president of Assocalzat­urifici, Italy’s shoemakers associatio­n. “Victims span from companies deprived from legit sales, to government­s bereft of taxes.”

According to figures provided by the country’s jewelers associatio­n Federorafi, counterfei­t goods amount to 7 percent of the sector’s annual revenues of 7.5 billion euros. President Ivana Ciabatti noted that very often fake jewels are marketed with a lower tier of precious metals, thus damaging the sector’s credibilit­y.

Voicing concern for consumers’ health, Gianni Russo, president of tannery organizati­on Unic, expressed concern over the use of toxic and inadequate materials and compounds in the production of fake leather hides and accessorie­s. To this end, last May the Italian government, pressured by Unic, passed a law regulating the use of the term “leather.”

Similarly, Giovanni Vitaloni, president of eyewear associatio­n Anfao, noted that “counterfei­ting in our sector…is particular­ly harmful because glasses are not a regular accessory: They are a medical device and of self-protection. Counterfei­ting entails the risk that all the required technical specs are not respected, thus potentiall­y provoking severe diseases for users.”

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