Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Does Anyone Sell Real Bathing Ape?

In the post before this one, I wrote about pulling back the curtain on fashion. Well, this post that reveals yet another ugly side of fashion. We all know that counterfeit products are rampant, but most of us view that as a problem limited to outdoor flea markets and shadey Internet sites.

Well, folks, add chi-chi boutiques to the category of places where you might end-up paying more money than you should for fake merchandise. Sarah Coggles, an award-winning* U.K. boutique, was recently busted for selling fake Bathing Ape tees.

According to The Press:

One of York's top fashion stores sold fake T-shirts bought for less than £10 on eBay, a court heard. Mark Bage, 39, a partner in nationally renowned Sarah Coggles, in Low Petergate, admitted selling three counterfeit "Bathing Ape" tops for between £39 and £49 to a Leeds couple. They were from a batch of 30 he had acquired for "around £8 each" from the internet auction site.

So how'd they get busted?

The court was told that on April 29, 2005, Lindsey Grace, from Leeds, bought one of the tops costing £49 for her boyfriend William Ward as she knew he liked them. He was "so excited" on receiving the gift that he returned to the shop the next day from Leeds and bought two more "Bathing Ape" T-shirts at £39. Mr Boxall said the customer then left his mobile number with the shop and asked them to contact him if any more came into stock. But when he gave one of the tops to a friend who already had one of the genuine brands, they compared them and discovered his T-shirt "didn't look quite right,"

And then they contacted BAPE, which confirmed that, yeah, the tees were total fakes.

And in the I-was-born-at-night-but-not-last-night category we have the store owner stating with a straight face:

Mr Sutcliffe said his client's store had now stopped buying from individual sellers on eBay. He said there was the "honest belief" that the T-shirts were genuine.

When I first wrote this post, I postulated that BathingApe was in some small part to blame for the counterfeits, but now I'm not so sure that's a fair statement. I do think though that if you charge well over cost for an item whose price is built on hype, then cheaper copies are inevitable. Fair? No, but then again, is there ANYTHING fair about capitalism?

*Last year Sarah Coggles won two coveted Drapers Awards for Designer Store Of The Year and Independent Retailer Of The Year. Judges praised Bage and his team for creating "an outstanding business."

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