The Misconceptions of Wholesale Branded Designer Clothing – Sourcing Warnings

Oct 17, 2004
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The time has come for me to share with you all some of the problems that face buyers of designer clothing and why we, as a community, have a tough job of policing this greatly misunderstood market.

Rising Complexity

Those that know anything about the designer clothing market will agree with me when I say that such topics as ‘route to market’ and ‘authenticity of goods’ are highly contentious issues and have been since practically the dawn of time. The complexity of brand protection is on a vast scale, so much so that most brands have internal departments or employ experts to monitor their brand (and in some cases, a mixture of both). As a community, we have been privy to communicating with several of these organisations that specialise in brand monitoring and protection not just here in Europe but overseas, too. Even the UK Trading Standards and Customs are now taking the issue of counterfeit goods more seriously than ever. We have seen their investigations increase by a considerable margin in the last few years alone. I would boldly state that the amount of new press coverage supporting the motion that the distribution of counterfeit goods has links to terrorism and organised crime has rather upped the ante across the board.

The point I am making here is that the issue of contentious designer clothing is a problem at every level of distribution, whether it is on eBay, a market stall, a high street store, or ultimately, our very own community. By ‘counterfeit’ I don't just mean the overseas factories pumping out 1:1 copies, I also mean those grey market imports that have breached distribution regulations during importation. The latter has seen some high profile cases with a varying degree of court results. I am sure everyone remembers the Levi vs Tesco case. Tesco were ruled to have breached distribution regulations and were ordered to change their ways. There are countless other cases that have occurred just recently.

Misconceptions

Frankly, nothing is black and white in this industry and even for the experienced trader dealing in designer clothing, the complexity of sourcing stock means a lot of people are inadvertently caught out when their channels are questioned by authorities or indeed the brands themselves. Paperwork is something of an urban myth these days and cannot be relied upon to determine authenticity alone. Photos or handling the goods in person will also not determine whether the goods are authentic. Joe or Jane Bloggs who dabbles in a few shirts here and there have no real authority or expertise to be in a position to determine the authenticity of branded clothing. Sorry, but a massive bug bearer for me are those individuals (who happen to be everywhere) who profess to know the in's and out's of any given brand. You'll often find that these same individuals have a few designer labels in their wardrobe and were once offered a few "cheap and high quality" shirts on a beach somewhere on holiday. Apparently this counts as having had a real insight to draw from when sharing advice on the state of the industry. I am not casting aspersions over anyone on this community, rather more making a general point aimed solely at providing context whilst exercising my point about this entire industry being vastly complex.

The sourcing of branded or designer clothing stock at secondary market level is greatly misunderstood. Libraries up and down the country could be filled with books on the propaganda that itself surrounds the industry. I could reel off dozens of the stories that I have heard in an attempt to justify the authenticity of stock. Forget the stories (or rather, the excuses) and stick solely to the route of distribution as this and this alone determines authenticity.

Why Route to Market Trumps Everything Else

One very true fact that buyers must be aware of is that unless the stock you have bought has a verifiable distribution route from the brand owner, it is highly likely that if the stock is not outright counterfeit, you are potentially facing being embroiled in a quagmire of legality that will be targeted solely at undermining the status of your stock.

Another of the great misconceptions is that selling designer clothing leads to a quick buck and that due-diligence is only for the serious buyer. The people who think this are of course the people that would rather, often unknowingly, be part of the problem, rather than be part of the collective solution. Greater scrutiny should be paid when sourcing designer clothing. Wholesalers and distributors of designer clothing frankly have it far too easy and in many other industries, people would walk away from a deal at the first sign of secrecy when it comes to the products route to market.

The brands themselves do not make it any easier for buyers or platform providers alike. Many brands would rather ignore the issue and sweep it under the carpet than stand up to it and proactively assist those dealing in their products and provide them with the resources needed to determine authenticity. These brands have the exact same black and white viewpoint over authenticity that I believe the majority of the industry has.

The Challenges We All Face

As a community and a platform that has a great many buyers and sellers of designer clothing, the challenges that we face should not be underestimated. Truly, if there wasn’t such a great demand for designer clothing here, we would have long ago greatly considered whether it is worth all the man hours that it takes to investigate individual stock lots. We however have both legal and moral responsibilities, not only to buyers, but to those brands that the stocks here represent to do our level best to ensure authenticity.

It should be stated clearly and plainly that we (The Supplier Central) are not designer clothing experts, nor do we have any authority, legal or otherwise implied, to determine the authenticity of individual stock lots. We use a mixture of due-diligence techniques to make ‘judgement calls’ based on our knowledge and exposure to the industry in combination with full co-operation with brand investigators and authorities such as law enforcement and trading standards. We are reliant solely on those in a higher authority to make judgements over authenticity, as and when those situations occur where investigations are necessary.

A Warning to Heed

Unfortunately, if you are buying designer clothing from anywhere else but fully transparent, fully authorised distribution channels, you have to step up and take on the responsibilities that are associated with it. For those not catching on with the warnings I am giving, grey area goods, which are those that have a questionable route to market are not transparent routes and therefore pose a risk to you and your business if you are ever subject to an official investigation. Seizures and indeed prosecution occur all the time, don’t assume that because you consider yourself small time you fall outside of their scope. If you are unable to offer full transparency over stock you have bought, be prepared to face the very real and very heavy weight of the law.
 

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Jan 18, 2005
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A Warning to Heed

Unfortunately, if you are buying designer clothing from anywhere else but fully transparent, fully authorised distribution channels, you have to step up and take on the responsibilities that are associated with it. For those not catching on with the warnings I am giving, grey area goods, which are those that have a questionable route to market are not transparent routes and therefore pose a risk to you and your business if you are ever subject to an official investigation. Seizures and indeed prosecution occur all the time, don’t assume that because you consider yourself small time you fall outside of their scope. If you are unable to offer full transparency over stock you have bought, be prepared to face the very real and very heavy weight of the law.


Wow this is very good read. Seeing some of the penalties on small businesses here in Germany I myself have stop buying brands from unauthorized sources for same reasons mention above. Its just not worth it.
 
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Feb 4, 2010
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Anthony,

Thanks very much for this post - a godsend for people like me. We have a large retail operation with direct accounts with several major brands, and I am horrified at some of the brands and stock being offered on here at times and the various "proof of authenticity" that is given out.
When we offer branded stock for sale we always state that we have "brand paperwork" - by this we mean a direct invoice from the brand we are selling to our company. This gives proof we actually bought stock from the brand we are advertising. I'm not sure that some of the "paperwork" declared at times on here has anything at all to do with the brand or license holder of the stock. People seem to want to pass off "factory paperwork" as being ok which in reality is as far from legitimate as you can get!
Thanks again for the post.

Regards,
Alan
 
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Reactions: bizmanny
Jan 4, 2011
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Really good info
 
May 30, 2005
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Anthony, it's a shame you can't take that warning and put it on a rubber stamp and stamp it on every thread about "where can I get name brand ....."

Of course, there are some who will continue to think it does not apply to them. :)
 
Sep 12, 2010
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Good read Anthony, as a designer clothing wholesaler myself, you bring up some really interesting points :)

James.
 
Oct 30, 2009
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Good read, like Pete says, if only the more inexperienced read this before posting their unrealistic expectations.
 
Sep 12, 2010
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Chester
Good read, like Pete says, if only the more inexperienced read this before posting their unrealistic expectations.

Like New Members asking for Cheap Genuine UGG Boots believing that it's a simple as that! :p
 
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Reactions: lawba
Jan 4, 2011
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very interesting information........
 
Great read, well worth posting.
 
Mar 4, 2009
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Great post Anthony, maybe a good idea to put this as a sticky in the designer clothing marketplace.
 
Feb 23, 2012
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you are thoughtful.I think that is because many people like famous brand goods,so more and more factories make the false goods to make more profits. As an ordinary person, i prefer ordinary good,so it won't be imitated by others.goodlegging.com. I like the site,because it keeps on the fashion trend, counterfeit won't display in it.;)