BATTLING COUNTERFEITS: The Italian and French fashion industries have had it with counterfeit goods.

On Thursday, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana sponsored a conference in Milan called “The circulation and contraband of counterfeit or dangerous products: safeguarding the financial interests of the European Union and protecting consumers.” The event was organized by the Institute for Research into European Criminal Law in collaboration with the European Anti-fraud Office.

At the convention, the rapid spread of counterfeit goods on the Web — an easy tool for consumers seeking fake designer products – was a major point of discussion. Some participants proposed launching programs in design and fashion schools to educate students about the social problems linked to the counterfeit industry, including child labor and organized crime. Another key item on the menu was closer collaboration between the fashion industry and police and customs officers.

Italy, compared to other European countries, “is the one that has implemented the fewest plans both for sensitizing consumers and for fighting illegal activity,” according to the Camera della Moda. 

Meanwhile, French luxury goods group Comité Colbert on Wednesday unveiled a new campaign against counterfeiting that uses tongue-in-cheek slogans to raise awareness of the issue among travelers. The campaign features seven visuals created by Cartier, Chanel, Christian Dior, Lacoste, Longchamp, Louis Vuitton and Van Cleef & Arpels with slogans such as: “Buy a fake Cartier, get a genuine criminal record.”

Produced in collaboration with French Customs, under the aegis of the French National Anti-Counterfeiting Committee (CNAC), 10,000 of the posters will be displayed from June in the 18 French airportswith the heaviest summer traffic. Comité Colbert president Elisabeth Ponsolle des Portes said sales of counterfeit products were flourishing thanks to the explosion of e-commerce sites offering fake designer goods. She noted that while the French postal service and several shipping companies had signed a charter of good conduct to fight against counterfeit goods on the Internet, bankinginstitutions and payment service providers had yet to join the effort.

“We think it is strange that what has been done in the United States has not been done in France. Apparently, yes they can, and I don’t see why we can’t,” she said. Christian Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano, meanwhile, said that although the majority of counterfeit products were made in Asia, the roots of the problem lay at home. “The people buying fake goods are not Chinese, Vietnamese or Russian, they are European,” he said. “Every time you buy a fake Lacoste, a fake Longchamp, a fake Chanel, you are shooting yourself in the foot on the values you hold dear.” The CNAC estimates that counterfeiting costs France 6 billion euros, or $7.5 billion at current exchange, in lost revenue ever year.

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