A look from the VOZ fall 2016 collection.

Voz, a luxury ethical fashion brand, is working to offset the impact of counterfeiting in the artisan community. The company was launched in 2012 by Jasmine Etoile Aarons, an entrepreneur and a product design engineer from Stanford University. The brand’s mission is to preserve and protect original textile art forms while equipping artisans “creatively, economically and culturally.”

Voz partnered with the Mapuche weavers of Southern Chile and has more than 100 jobs throughout its supply chain to date. Here, WWD interviewed five Voz artisans who are being impacted by the counterfeit textile trade.

Marisol Cruces

WWD: Has the increase in counterfeit textiles affected your personal economy?

M.C.: Yes [but only] indirectly, since in several companies the prices or the payment for our work is affected by the “false” competition (counterfeit textiles).

WWD: Do counterfeit textiles affect possibilities for growth in the artisanal textiles market?

M.C.: Yes, it is difficult to devote myself completely to [weaving] the textiles as prices for [our] work have been decreasing due to counterfeit fabrics.

WWD: What can be done to prevent the proliferation of counterfeit textiles?

M.C.: I think that the government should help, so these things don’t happen, especially in this region [Araucanía, Chile] and to us [Mapuche weavers], since our cultural heritage is being lost, and it is something beautiful.

WWD: Is there an effective method for buyers of textile products to differentiate between counterfeit and authentically handmade products?

M.C.: In general, the handmade products have finishes that are a little less perfect and are softer, with the back side cleanly finished and designs on both faces. Beyond that, it is difficult for consumers to differentiate.

Veronica Currivil

WWD: Has the increase in counterfeit textiles affected your personal economy?

V.C.: Yes, companies request less handmade textiles, because people buy a lot of textile products without knowing where they come from or how they were made.

WWD: Do counterfeit textiles affect possibilities for growth in the artisanal textiles market?

V.C.: I’m not sure, but I think that in some way it affects me, since we are all working on this with the intention of growing.

WWD: What can be done to prevent the proliferation of counterfeit textiles?

V.C.: To continue with the certification that was being achieved a while ago (certify weavers and their work as authentic cultural products).

WWD: Is there an effective method for buyers of textile products to differentiate between counterfeit and authentically handmade products?

V.C.: There is no 100 percent effective method to do that, but if you want to buy something original, it is convenient for people to buy in institutions that are known and have been working with handmade products for some time.

Marta Huitraiñan

WWD: Has the increase in counterfeit textiles affected your personal economy?

M.H.: [It hasn’t, because] I do not devote myself [that] much to textiles [for them to] have a direct impact on me economically.

WWD: Do counterfeit textiles affect possibilities for growth in the artisanal textiles market?

M.H.: Yes, it hinders the possibilities of finding work. There may be companies that do not need to look for real weavers, because they only supply fake products or products that they pass as “handmade by artisans.”

WWD: What can be done to prevent the proliferation of counterfeit textiles?

M.H.: There should be a policy that applies seals of authenticity to the truly [artisan-made] and handcrafted products (i.e., the certification of weavers).

WWD: Is there an effective method for buyers of textile products to differentiate between counterfeit and authentically handmade products?

M.H.: The designs are different. (For example, there is a smooth side on the fake ones) and the counterfeit products [try] to match the handmade ones. But for the weavers, it is easy to differentiate a copy from a real one. The problem is that the people who buy them do not have enough knowledge in textiles to know the difference. 

Blanca Poblete

WWD: Has the increase in counterfeit textiles affected your personal economy?

B.P.: I do not think it affects me, because the companies that I sell my work to are dedicated companies with good quality standards.

WWD: Do counterfeit textiles affect possibilities for growth in the artisanal textiles market?

B.P.: No, I do not dedicate my time fully enough to making textiles that it would directly affect me.

WWD: What can be done to prevent the proliferation of counterfeit textiles?

B.P.: I think that in the long-term it is inevitable because like all things, there are always people who falsify products, and they are always improving their methods of copying our craftwork.

WWD: Is there an effective method for buyers of textile products to differentiate between counterfeit and authentically handmade products?

B.P.: If you do not have knowledge in artisan textiles or fabrics in general, it is best to get advice from someone who knows.

Maria Quidel

WWD: Has the increase in counterfeit textiles affected your personal economy?

M.Q.: [Counterfeit textiles affect me only slightly], since I already do not devote so time much to making textiles. There are several weavers like me who have another job besides delivering handmade textiles.

WWD: Do counterfeit textiles affect possibilities for growth in the artisanal textiles market?

M.Q.: Yes, if those fake textiles did not exist or could be differentiated better, there would probably be more work for us.

WWD: What can be done to prevent the proliferation of counterfeit textiles?

M.Q.: That the state controls [the presence of counterfeit textiles] or puts policies into operation that support the growth of the Mapuche weavers.

WWD: Is there an effective method for buyers of textile products to differentiate between counterfeit and authentically handmade products?

M.Q.: It is difficult for people to differentiate, unless they know about textiles, so I think that really handmade products should be identified with a stamp or a badge. [I think] there should be an organization that does that.

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