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Fake Bags, Shoes The Bulk Of Newly Seized Counterfeit Goods

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 12/23/2011 9:21 am Updated: 12/23/2011 2:13 pm

This just in: Americans still love fake bags.

We would have thought that the demand for fakes -- plastic bags with mangled "LV" logos, tufted purses with not-quite interlocking C's -- would have died with the decline of the Logo Bag Craze. The Craze, as we remember it, started with Prada's nylon backpack and probably peaked with Louis Vuitton's colorful Takashi Murakami bags in 2003.

The past two years, by contrast, have seen the logo-less Proenza Schouler PS1 and Celine's minimalist Luggage tote become the most popular accessories in fashion -- and with that, we figured the Logo Bag Craze and the insatiable thirst for luxury name brands was dunzo.

Not so. Women's Wear Daily reports that the market for fake bags as well as shoes, sunglasses and other fashion items is still going strong, so much so that 93 percent of goods seized in a recent counterfeit sting were fashion products, totaling $76.8 million.

In an operation called "Operation Holiday Hoax" (who knew the federal government was so cutesy?), U.S. government officials seized 327,000 counterfeit items from ports, stores and "swap meets" (so... the back of some guy's car?). Amongst the acquired goods were clothes, bags and shoes made to look like Jimmy Choo, Rolex, Uggs, True Religion, Gucci and North Face.

WWD reports that in Los Angeles alone, a mind-boggling 70 percent of seized items were fake True Religion duds. (Do you know anyone who still wears True Religion? Must be a West Coast thing...)

The truth is that while minimalism and logo-free bags may be "It" in high fashion, average consumers still want a name brand product, even if it's not covered in neon L's and V's. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the bags are still around, they're just getting more sophisticated and thus harder to spot.

Many fakes are now actually made with leather as opposed to the typical plastic, which used to be an easy giveaway. And the plastic ones are often embossed with a veiny pattern to mimic the calfskin veins on leather bags.

Apparently the tricks still couldn't stop the feds' "Operation Holiday Hoax."

But we're still curious. Would you buy -- or do you -- buy a fake bag? Have you every bought one unwittingly? Let us know in the comments and read more about the latest sting at WWD.com.

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