MASENTLE NTHOLENG

 Spot that fake: Guccie, Louise Vuitton, Mike, Phuma, Adibas, Pollo, Cartierre

If you are not familiar with expensive international brands, then you would not know that those are misspelt designer brand names.

“Counterfeit goods account for 7% of global commerce,” says Mandla Mnyatheli, Chief Director of Company and Intellectual Property (IP) enforcement with the Department of Trade and Industry.

We are very aware of that famous cliché of the sweatshop running from the basement of some obscure, dodgy shop, the flea markets with its array of inexpensive but cute international brands and the street corner flooded with endless fake DVDs and CDs. What we may not be aware of is that the money spent on the purchase of these inexpensive goods finance activities such as money laundering, human trafficking, narcotics, the illegal weapons trade and international terrorism.

When Perdeby asked whether they would buy fake goods, most Tuks students said they would prefer that the products did not look fake. Seeing as you get good and bad knock-offs, the product should at least be a good knock-off, some emphasised.

“It’s a catch-22,” commented Rositta Mbanze, a second-year BA student. “They hamper the economy, but at the same time they feed the people who are selling [them] and generating money from the fake goods. In all honesty, we live in hard times. People need money to survive and sometimes it means resorting to criminal means.”

With all these fake goods going around, the question should be asked: who creates the market for fake goods?

The answer: us. We create the bootlegs by providing a market. This is where the beauty of supply-and-demand comes in. Bless economics. If there were little or no demand for the counterfeits, there would be no need for the supply of the products. A recent example of this would be the South African supporter jersey designed especially for the coming soccer spectacle. Smuggled replicas of the Bafana Bafana jerseys worth millions were recently making the rounds. Here is why: in South African shops a supporter’s jersey would cost a hefty R1 200 if it had the SAFA, Adidas and Protea symbol; R599 if it had the SAFA and Adidas logo and R349 if it only had the Adidas logo. Then you get the Market Square, where you get the jersey with all three symbols for a cool R100.

If you were not aware of what counterfeit goods were and what they cause, you know now. And then the question becomes: why look good at a wallet-denting price when I can look trendy and fashionable at a tenth of the price, right? You can answer that question by reflecting on your involvement and contribution to international and local criminal activity. Authenticity and originality need not be reflected through fashion or flash, but rather through personality, not what you wear but how you wear it. Food for thought: making a contribution to sweatshops in China may not exactly be seen as an attractive legacy.

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