Fashion brand launches authentic Diesel fakes

Fashion brand Diesel has gone head-to-head with counterfeiters, playing them at their own game with a pop-up store in New York selling “authentic” rip-offs.

The store, which is set up to look like a traditional dodgy market store alongside others in an area of New York’s Chinatown renowned for counterfeits, is selling Diesel’s limited-edition knock-off brand DEISEL with the strap ‘For Successfull Living’ [sic].

It has a fashion line featuring high-quality denim fashion items, sweatshirts, caps and t-shirts, all of which are being sold at heavily discounted prices, in line with prices normally seen with counterfeits.

The initiative – using the hashtag #GoWithTheFlaw – is aimed as a brand strengthening exercise that “celebrates those who blatantly disregard the style status-quo and stubbornly wear whatever the hell they want”, Diesel’s website says. “These are real Diesel jeans; only the logos are fake,” a company video explains.

The company has trademarked the DEISEL brand.

More than a million counterfeit Diesel products are believed to be sold globally each year.

In an interview with AFP, Renzo Rosso, Diesel founder and president of parent company OTB, said: “We have so many counterfeit products all over the world I thought, ‘Why can’t we play with this problem that we have?’ We created a fake product, a fake name, and we came to the counterfeit district.”

According to Rosso, in an interview with Vogue, the initiative was a bit of a joke to show the brand didn’t take itself too seriously and to mock the current logomania trend.

That being said, it also highlighted the issue of counterfeits within the fashion industry. “If someone copies you it means that your brand is worthy and top of mind with consumers, but at the same time we make every effort to protect our brand from counterfeit activity. We will keep fighting to protect our brand by implementing state-of-the-art technologies. We cannot have any tolerance for fraudsters – on and offline,” he told Vogue, adding that he did not believe the initiative undermined the value of authentic, full-priced products and, if anything, the knock-offs would become high-priced collectables.

“We did this for our core fashion customer looking for something that will turn heads and spark questions, while actively taking part in the culture and reinforcing our commitment to go with the flaw. The ‘knock-off’ price point and the fake store was an experiment to celebrate those brave enough to find their own unique style.” 

The initiative coincides with New York Fashion Week, with the store only being open for several days. “Only a brand with a fierce legacy of innovation has the courage to storm Fashion Week conventions with a knock-off brand, sold street-wear style, on Canal Street,” said Andy Bird, chief creative officer at Publicis New York, which worked with the brand. “Diesel has been breaking conventions in the fashion world for 40 years. Here they are again, taking a direct-to-consumer twist on fashion marketing, smack in the centre of one of the largest fashion-centric events in the world. Now that’s a real fashion statement.”

With the rise of the internet and specifically social media, the black market around fake fashion items has boomed. Many in the industry are starting to take a harder stance – seen with the number of lawsuits over the past few years.

But, like Diesel, a number of brands have also highlighted counterfeiting as part of their designs. This includes Gucci, which emblazoned one of its bags with the word ‘REAL’ in graffiti design above its logo, and Dolce & Gabbana, which introduced new brands ‘Dolce & Gabbaba’ and ‘Docce & Gabbinett’ to poke fun at counterfeiters. Meanwhile, Alexander Wang has printed copyright infringement notes on Adidas shirts.

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