Zim market haven for counterfeit clothing

22 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Zim market haven for counterfeit clothing

The Sunday Mail

Kimberly Mhembere

A man dressed in what appears to be a genuine Gucci outfit confidently strolls around the Ximex Mall area in the Harare Central Business District.

Apart from what looks like an expensive Rolex watch, the fashion-conscious youngster is also in possession of a fake iPhone. To complete the fashionable look, the young man is also wearing what appears to be an expensive gold chain.

What the youngster is not aware of is the fact that all the supposedly expensive items he is wearing are nothing, but cheap counterfeit products.

In recent years, Zimbabwe has become a ready market for counterfeit clothing.

Some people, it seems, are obsessed with buying fake clothes.

To counterfeit means to imitate something that is authentic.

A street fashion connoisseur, who goes by the moniker “Smart Zhet”, said most of the supposedly expensive clothes and accessories that have flooded the streets are rejects.

According to “Smart Zhet”, some of these products are made from cheap quality material.

“Where on this earth can one find a Gucci outfit costing less than $80? We are talking about a celebrated brand with origins in Italy. Most of the products that are sold here are fake imitations that are imported from Asia,” added Smart Zhet.

A survey conducted by The Sunday Mail Society revealed that the local market is awash with fake clothing brands.

In Harare, “street hustlers” and “runners” are seemingly behind this thriving trade.

As the hustlers make a killing out of the fake products, selling counterfeit products is threatening international property rights and the local clothing industry.

In Harare, the most pirated brands are Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Essentials and Fendi, among others.

Fake Versace prints are also being sought after by fashion-chasing individuals.

In Harare, the fake products are openly sold in shops and flea markets in Avondale, Sam Levy’s Village and many other places.

The social media has created a niche for branded designer clothes, fuelling the trade in counterfeit clothes in the process.

The supposedly expensive designer brands serve as a status symbol.

Chris Magwere, who sells counterfeit clothes at the Zimpost Mall, revealed where the fake clothing originates from.

“We get them from several Asian countries and they have a ready market here,” Magwere said.

He defended the trade in counterfeit clothing, and maintained that traders are only responding to the growing demand.

“For a start, the manufacturers of both genuine and fake products are the same. It is only the pricing that varies according to location.

“You cannot expect the price of merchandise in a London shop to be the same as the one of the same product in Zimbabwe,’’ argued Magwere.

A closer look at the price disparities between genuine and counterfeit clothing clearly indicates that the products are not of the same quality.

A genuine Louis Vuitton branded belt, for example, costs around R10 000 (US$645) in a Louis Vuitton shop in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In Harare, a fake belt that looks similar to the genuine one is being sold for between US$20 and US$60.

These prices are even subject to negotiations.

A young man who identified himself as Drew, said he was aware of the fact that the clothes he was wearing were not genuine.

“I like this particular brand and I cannot afford the genuine prints. I then decided to buy imitations of this brand. I am clearly not being fleeced. It is a personal choice,” argued the youngster.

According to “Vogue Business”, a publication that covers the international fashion industry, the counterfeit market was valued at US$ 464 billion in 2019.

The market, according to the publication, continues to grow.

Mary Tukwane, an economist, said a shadow economy that thrives on copyright and international property has emerged.

“Those who deal in counterfeit clothing do not pay any form of taxes to the Government. What they do is siphon out money into the black market. Dealers in counterfeit clothing also negatively affect the performance of the formal economy,” added Tukwane.

Recently, a law firm — Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans — embarked on an awareness campaign in which it highlighted to the public the importance of registering trademarks and how businesses must react when their trademarks are being abused.

According to the 2022 Intellectual Property Youth Scoreboard, which was released by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, the international access to counterfeit products has increased.

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Ms Rose Mpofu urged consumers to buy wisely.

“In light of the flooding of counterfeit goods, consumers must buy wisely so as to avoid cases in which they are fleeced of their hard-earned money,” Ms Mpofu said.

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