Calvin Klein doesn't want you to buy counterfeit goods. Nor do Tommy Hilfiger, Diane von Furstenberg and Donna Karan, for that matter.
Those are just a few of the fashion industry luminaries who partnered with eBay (EBAY) to send a message to consumers to "just say no" to counterfeit merchandise via the "You Can't Fake Fashion" campaign.
The campaign marks a partnership between eBay, which bills itself as the world's largest online marketplace and fashion destination, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America, to tsk tsk fakes and raise a glass to original design.
To that end, 50 CFDA designers -- from the aforementioned players to Rachel Roy, Tory Burch and Jason Wu, each customized a $150, one-of-a-kind summer tote bearing the tag line "You Can't Fake Fashion." The bags sold out on eBay on July 11 within a couple of hours of going on sale.
The fashion industry and the online giant want to hammer home the message that counterfeit merchandise is illegal, damages a brand's equity and compromises consumer confidence, Alan Marks, senior vice president of corporate communications for eBay, told DailyFinance, speaking at the "You Can't Fake Fashion" press event (right).
The summer soiree was held at the swank Dream Downtown Hotel in New York City, where all 50 bags were displayed at a poolside cocktail party attended by a virtual who's who of the fashion industry.
The purpose of the campaign is twofold, Marks said. "It's to raise consumer awareness of counterfeit product and promote original design."
"This is a fun, creative way to spark a conversation. If we can get people to think about it," all the better, he said.
Using New Tech to Find the Fakes
While counterfeit goods have been an ongoing issue for decades, with everything from fake Coach bags to Nike sneakers popping up in tourist areas and street fairs around the country, they've proliferated online in recent years, mushrooming into a $200 billion business globally, according to MarkMonitor, a brand protection firm.
And eBay is no stranger to dealing with the thorny issue of counterfeit goods.
Indeed, as the online marketplace is used by millions daily to buy and sell merchandise, knock-off goods have often turned up on the site, and the company has had to fight its share of counterfeit-related legal battles. (In 2008, for example, eBay won a court fight against jeweler Tiffany (TIF): The court ruled that the site was not responsible for trademark infringement as it related to fake Tiffany items. But the site might not be so lucky when it comes to L'Oreal's allegations of trademark infringement. It's possible eBay could be liable for infringements committed by users on its site if it played an "active role" in the misuse, Women's Wear Daily reported on July 13.)
For its part, eBay says it's stepping up efforts to rid the site of counterfeit goods with new technology tools designed to spot fakes, among them its Verified Rights Owners program (VeRO), Marks said.
VeRO enables intellectual property rights owners to ask eBay to remove certain listings that offer items or contain materials that infringe on their intellectual property rights, such as trademark or copyright.
"We're always fighting [counterfeits]," Marks said.