Fake or Real? Decoding the Chanel “VIP Gift” Bag Issue


Important note to reader: Names and entities engaged in the sale of these products of questionable authenticity have been removed so as not to give them any publicity or to encourage people to conduct business with them. It is illegal and is a criminal offense to promote the sale of counterfeit merchandise. 

In the last few months, I have been bombarded with questions on my Instagram DMs by readers about these Chanel “VIP Gift Bags” that are being sold online. These bags are being hawked by resellers as “authentic Chanel” and are priced anywhere between PhP 4,500 to PhP 23,000 (approx. US$ 88 to US$ 395)– not an easy sum to cough up for most people, but they’re still considered a fraction of the price compared to Chanel bags that one can buy directly at authorized Chanel boutiques worldwide. A Chanel bag purchased directly from the French fashion house can cost in the upward amount of PhP 100,000 (approx US$ 2,000). A good number of the messages I received on IG were from people who had unknowingly purchased these products, thinking they got themselves a great deal for a bag that was proclaimed to be “authentic Chanel VIP bags” by Philippine- based online resellers. Some of these resellers have disclaimers like this:

If reseller claims they are indeed “gifts,” then they are also unauthorized to resell these products.

So, exactly what are these “Chanel VIP Gift Bags” that these resellers are hawking?

To my knowledge (and this after having worked in the fashion industry both locally and internationally as an accredited journalist for 10 years), a VIP gift item is given to a select few loyal VIP clientele who continue to patronize a certain brand– by “VIP,” this means clients who continue to spend anything over US $10,000 up on the brand within a time period. The amount varies and is subjective to each brand and boutique, but they all do have their VIP clients, and these clients are usually invited to very special events (not just to product launches or special sales), and sometimes they are also flown to different countries to attend brand launches/ shows.

A recent feature in Asia Tatler  noted that Chanel VIP clients like Lianne Lam from Hong Kong, get spoiled by the French fashion house on her birthday. She was sent a pair of sofa cushions along with chocolates and flowers on her recent natal day, and if she stops by the Chanel boutique at the Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel, staff will bring out a cake, sing to her, and serve tea. According to the feature, Chanel “also sends personalized gifts for other occasions throughout the year, like Mother’s Day, Christmas and New Year. These may be flowers or cakes or not-for-sale fashion items, but such gifts are never repetitive.”  Chanel had also made special arrangements for a handful of their VIP clients to take a special tour of the Palace of Versailles in France, complete with a private guide, special access to certain rooms not usually accessible to the visiting public, and a visit away from the maddening tourist crowds. VIP guests also get flown out on exclusive trips to see runway shows, while also being granted backstage access with the designer (Karl Lagerfeld in the past, and now Virginie Viard).

Gifts (swag) are also given to journalists and press people on some occasions (i.e. during fashion shows, press launches). These are usually company- branded products that are given away as a form of advertisement. Up until recently because of my work within the fashion industry, I have received designer merchandise as gifts from the brands themselves–  small wallets, leather bracelets, twillies, scarves, notebooks, and key FOBs for attending events they hosted. I’ve also been given snow globes and miniature versions of a certain brand’s signature trunk during Christmas. Upon close inspection of all those special gifts that I have received from these premium luxury brands, one thing I can say with absolute certainty is this– each item’s quality is 100% reflective of the brand’s reputation for excellent quality. None of those gifts were substandard or made poorly. In other words, there was nothing “cheap” about the gifts.

Going back to Chanel, I had the fortune of attending the maison’s fashion shows in the Grand Palais in Paris during Karl Lagerfeld’s time,

One of his best shows in terms of visual engagement (in my opinion), is the Chanel supermarket. The French fashion house’s shows are always housed under the domes of the Grand Palais in Paris. During this season, everything imaginable that you would find in a supermarket was stocked in the Chanel supermarket shelves, with the Chanel branding on each one of them.

Photos all by @thebaghag

The visual merchandising was really taken to the next level, and everyone was tempted to take home something from the shelves– believe me, even the high profile editors were seen trying to take home something (haha I saw someone  trying to leave with a large Chanel logo doormat, only to be stopped lol).

So I attempted to take this whole cart full of Chanel groceries hahaha

Alas, the supermarket merchandise was not meant to be given away as Chanel “VIP gifts” lol. While many were stopped from taking them home, some managed to slip through security with those Chanel water bottles (but I have to date, never seen them resold in any marketplace platform haha)!  We were all given a little something Chanel though–  I received a bottle of Chanel vernis nail polish in a small Chanel paper bag, which was placed on each seat of the attendees. Oh, and I also received a Chanel box of sugared gummy candies (with gummy Chanel double C logo, Chanel perfume bottle, and Chanel bag as well as Chanel jacket instead of the usual bears). These were the Chanel show souvenirs everyone got. The succeeding shows also saw the brand give out Chanel nail polish in the season’s newest colors.

I hope that sheds some light on what “VIP Gifts” mean. The issue in question right now (hence the first of a series of blog posts), is the Chanel “VIP Gift Bags” that are being sold online which come not just in the form of fabric bags with double C logos, but also come in the form of caviar- like and calfskin- like leather bags (with some styles similar to the pieces being sold in Chanel boutiques). Online resellers on both Facebook and Instagram claim that these merchandise are “gifts given to VIP clients.” I have mentioned above what Chanel normally gives to their VIP clients, and these pieces that are being hawked online by these resellers, are NOT the kind of gifts the fashion house gives.

These resellers who sell these merchandise with questionable authenticity later go on to describe that these gifts are supposedly given to clients who buy Chanel beauty products in certain countries. It needs to be said that there is a clear distinction between a VIP client of Chanel fashion and a Chanel beauty client who makes a purchase of over US $200 to score a gift item.

GWP or GIFT WITH PURCHASE

Oftentimes, you can receive a free “gift” if you exceed $150 in purchase of certain designer beauty products (from the likes of Dior, Estee Lauder etc) in authorized beauty counters. But to label these gifts with purchase as “VIP gifts” is misleading.  Anyone who walks into an authorized Chanel beauty counter can avail of a free gift if s/he exceeds a certain amount of product purchase. These gifts usually come in the form of a small fabric or faux patent leather pouch, and come with beauty samples too. These are called “gifts with purchase” or GWP.

Chanel.com (the official website of Chanel) actually has some ongoing promotions:

These above are the types of pouches that Chanel gives to their beauty clients. And or at times, Chanel packages products from some of their lines, and includes the beauty pouch as a promotion for all their purchasing clients.

So let me clarify and confirm this– yes, Chanel Beauty does have promotional GWP items to go with some of their beauty lines. In fact, I can attest to this. Fifteen years ago, I bought Chanel SpF beauty products and I was given this free drawstring bag as GWP in the Chanel beauty counter inside Nordstrom, San Francisco.

The bag I received as a GWP was actually very well made, and was made of canvas on its exterior and of white, waterproof (like that of a raincoat) fabric on the inside. I also received samples along with that GWP. I was also not entitled to more than one GWP at that time. The GWP are indeed, not for commercial sale, and you cannot buy $1,000 worth of beauty products just so you can get 10 of those bags. There was a limit of one GWP per customer– whether this was a policy of Chanel beauty or a policy of Nordstrom at that time, I cannot answer.  At the time, I didn’t think to ask them. I only bought the products  because I was going on a trip to Carmel (and my friends and I were going to the beach).

But in all my years of living in the U.S. and traveling throughout Europe and Asia, I had personally never seen large leather bags with the double C logo given as GWP in Chanel beauty counters. I have also asked fashion friends and industry colleagues from Thailand, Germany, Singapore, France, Italy, Taiwan, Hong Kong, UAE, and China, and they have also never seen these GWP Chanel leather bags in question (I showed them the leather bags that are being sold by IG resellers as “Chanel VIP gift bags”)

TRADEMARK LAWSUIT of CHANEL vs. 94 ONLINE SELLERS

Let me now share photos of one style of the leather bags being peddled as “Authentic Chanel VIP Gift Bags” on both Facebook and Instagram by resellers.

This leather bucket bag with gold hardware bears the double C logo of Chanel.

Reseller photo submitted by multiple Instagram contributors

The questionable “Chanel VIP” bag above shares the exact same bag style and make as this bag below, offered by an IG seller named XiaoFangMei.

 

I would like to note that Xiaofangmei’s account has actually been legally named by CHANEL, INC.  in a recent lawsuit filed in the District of Florida., with Case no. 18-63046-CIV-SCOLA, against 94 online entities last December 2018. The news of this lawsuit was disclosed on this website. If you are interested in the exact details of this case, you can search for the docket number indicated below in the U.S. District Court in Florida because this is public record, and this is also an ongoing case.

 

The same exact bucket bag being sold on Xiaofangmei’s account (which is the same bag offered by some of the Philippine IG/ Facebook resellers), is not labeled “Chanel VIP” on the account.  In fact, there are no Chanel caption references on Xiaofangmei’s post and there is only a Whatsapp number to contact the seller. Let me reiterate that this reseller has been named in a trademark lawsuit (for selling counterfeit goods) by Chanel.  And this instagram account is most likely a mirror account (the seller’s “Plan B”) to the original one which was already presumably shut down by Chanel.

ONLINE MARKETPLACE PLATFORMS

I decided to conduct further research and ended up doing a thorough marketplace nosedive ( all the major marketplaces based in China– Alibaba, Taobao, Pinduoduo, DH Gate… name the platforms, and I’ve probably gone on there to conduct searches using Chinese characters) to track down the source/s of these “VIP gift bags.”

In regards to the same bag being sold by Instagram reseller Xiaofangmei and being sold as well by Philippine- based IG resellers, this is what I found:

The bag is being sold for a wholesale price of 149 Yuan, equivalent to PhP 1,081 (approx US$ 21) each. And the logo is customizable based on client’s preference. This manufacturer has produced that same bucket bag style in bulk, and the bag is available for logo customization (including a CC logo, orders of which the same company had already previously fulfilled). I found this manufacturer’s listing in one of the leading wholesale marketplace platforms from China.

This was a photo from the same manufacturer, in a different slide. It shows an almost- the- same double C logo, but this specific sample was altered and was produced one- off for posting purposes on their website because the governance team of the platform is cracking down on counterfeit designer products. In fact, in a smaller photo below, you can see the enlarged version where the would-have- been- present double C logo was photoshopped out.

According to the manufacturer, their minimum order for the double C customized logo is between 20- 25 pieces per transaction, for a cost of under PhP 1,100/ bag. The larger the quantity of your order, the lower your cost. And yes, they admitted to manufacturing this bucket bag with the double C logo (for resale and redistribution).

One of the Philippine resellers was offering that same bag (and calling it a “Chanel VIP bag”) for PhP 10,000– an over 800% markup on what is in reality, a counterfeit Chanel bag that was made in China by an unauthorized manufacturer– “unauthorized” because that manufacturer was never authorized to use the double C logo. Incidentally, this manufacturer had taken many steps to ensure their listing does not get detected or flagged down by the platform’s intellectual property compliance team .

So to reiterate, that “Chanel VIP Gift Bag” being offered by the Philippine- based Instagram reseller (whose photo from IG is published above), is the exact same “Chanel Bucket Bag” as the one offered by Xiaofangmei (the account with the current Chanel lawsuit). Both are fake, are available to be bulk- ordered through a manufacturer in China.

So, your burning question about the authenticity of these “Chanel VIP Gift” bags has been answered. Those bags being peddled on instagram/ facebook by resellers (whose integrity as sellers should now be seriously questioned), are FAKE. They are counterfeit Chanel bags being marketed in a different way (not as “triple A” fakes but as supposed “VIP gifts”) to lure in gullible buyers.

If you cannot even bring a “Chanel” leather GWP bag (especially if there is even such a thing, because as I mentioned above, there is none)  back to the Chanel boutique for repairs or refurbishing at some point (because these resellers tell you that they’re “not really” Chanel boutique items but were “gift” items), why even bother buying that “Chanel” labelled item, even if it’s a fraction of the cost?

COUNTERFEIT MANUFACTURERS in MARKETPLACES

Why is there a proliferation of fake designer merchandise today? The answer is fairly simple– because of the continuing and rising demand of top name brands among consumers. It is basic economics– it is about the law of supply and demand. Many (mostly women) today feel the pressure (especially heightened by their social media exposure) of wanting to “belong” and to be part of a special group of individuals who “can afford” luxury goods. Many today feel that there is a “need” to “keep up with the Joneses.”  While many consumers who cannot afford the real deal knowingly turn to fakes because of the price disparity (and because of their thinking that not everyone in their circle can tell if their bag is fake anyway), there is a significant number of that population who get duped into buying a fake, thinking it is authentic. They are lured in by sweet “marketing” deals that are too good to be true. And this “Chanel VIP Gift Bag” issue is just that: it is indeed a deal that’s too good to be true. And unscrupulous resellers (as well as resellers who really don’t know better) are quick to cash in on these buyers.

Manufacturers rely on buyers who get easily duped– they are the reason why manufacturers’ businesses are flourishing. Many tales have been told of how these manufacturers actually buy authentic designer bags in Europe with the intention of dissecting those products so that they can replicate the patterns for mass production.  Some manufacturers though, simply rely on photos to produce these counterfeit bags. Once they’ve created their counterfeit bags, they use marketplace platforms to advertise their products and supply capacity.

Facing criticism from global markets, China- based online marketplaces like Alibaba, Taobao, Pinduoduo, DH Gate (among the others) are already working to crack down on counterfeit designer merchandise manufacturers. And though the work done to eradicate counterfeiting isn’t fast enough, these marketplace platforms do have governance teams that remove thousands of product listings and photos daily, from manufacturers and sellers who sell products which bear the unauthorized designer logos like Chanel’s. Those repeat offenders who get caught for violating intellectual property and trademark policies get their accounts suspended, resulting in immediate loss of income. Sadly though, these businesses have gotten smarter over time. When their accounts get shut down, they simply open new accounts under different names to continue the business. They already managed to have plan Bs, Cs, and Ds in place.

While these marketplace platforms continue to develop more sophisticated detection methods to weed out counterfeiters on their sites, many manufacturers also keep up and find equally clever ways to evade them. One common way to avoid being flagged down is for these sellers to redirect their inquiries to a separate site or a separate platform. A report conducted by April Ma of Caixin Global declared that “shop owners are wary about how they discuss imitation goods issues with potential customers. When approached by Caixin, merchants selling ‘Hermes’ scarves for 250 yuan apiece suggested moving the discussion to WeChat, a messaging app, where they felt they could freely chat about the craftsmanship of their high- grade copies.”  I can corroborate this claim because the manufacturer of the bucket bag above had cautiously asked me if we can take our conversation to WeChat. The seller’s representative offered to send more product sample photos through that chat site, to showcase not just how good the quality of their work is, but to also show me the final product of their bags with the actual double C  Chanel logo. It was a very surreal and disturbing discovery.

Another method these manufacturers evade detection from the platforms’ governance teams is to  re-label their merchandise. They avoid using the designer names on the listing, and instead use key words. For instance, the way to search for a Chanel product would be to mention the letter C and another Chinese character (C Jia), or to alter the spelling of the brand. These methods allow the manufacturers to sneak past the detection filters. A Daxue Consulting report also mentioned that some sellers label merchandise as “haute couture.” which would imply “high quality copy.”

Many manufacturers also wised up and would make one- off product samples with similar logos– but not the exact double C/ Chanel ones. Funny, because some bags end up with logos looking like a cross- breed between Chanel’s double C and Gucci’s double G. Many also photoshop their pictures by erasing or manipulating the logos to showcase their product in a more”legitimate” manner that adheres to the marketplace platform’s rules.

These resellers who claim to “know” about where these “VIP gift bags” come from, say that they’re made from the factories that make Chanel products. But them claiming that those products are “legitimate” or “authentic” is like claiming that there are designer overruns that come from top brands like Louis Vuitton, and that they are “authentic” because they came from the same factory. Making such an argument into their statement of fact (in a bid to assure their own buyers who had already spent thousands of pesos *hundreds of dollars* on those questionable merchandise which bore the unauthorized Chanel logo)  would be completely ignorant and irresponsible. Luxury brands like Chanel are highly protective of their reputation. They do not hesitate to spend millions of dollars each year to ensure proper control and distribution of their products. Case in point: a report published in the BBC last July 2018 detailed how premium British fashion label Burberry admitted to destroying £28.6M (yes, over twenty million pounds) worth of merchandise the year before, in a bid to protect its brand. The brand’s spokesperson mentioned that they have “careful processes to minimise the amount of excess stock we produce.” The report also mentioned that “fashion firms… destroy unwanted items to prevent them being stolen or sold cheaply.” For premium labels like Chanel, they would have easily done the same thing, although they would not have been obliged to disclose that information since the French fashion house remains a wholly private company (unlike LV, Burberry, Gucci, which are/ belong to publicly- traded companies in the global stock exchange).

Chanel would not have allowed “excess” stock (in bulk) of their own VIP gifts/ GWP to float around in the gray market.

OEM and MIDNIGHT SHIFT MANUFACTURING

Another story which came out in the BBC about designer bag manufacturers two years ago quoted Juan Antonio Sanchez, manager for Ranchel (a leather goods manufacturer) on the very stringent demands of big designer brands that subcontract them for manufacturing work. “We have to sign a contract of confidentiality, then the factory, the manager, and every worker has to sign it.” In each individual contract are very detailed clauses which state that no one can take photos, they cannot take the designs or anything to do with the products. To reproduce them separate from the contract and resell them would be a breach of  a legally- binding contract, and is unauthorized and strictly prohibited.

Contractors like Ranchel are what you call “OEMs” or Original Equipment Manufacturers. At some point in time, designer brands might outsource production to OEMs in a bid to meet the production demands or to lower costs. In the process of giving them the contracts to produce a specific volume of their products, these brands grant the OEMs permission to use their trademarks and the necessary intellectual property for the manufacturing. And while the practice of subcontracting production overseas reduces the company’s own costs and allow for better profit margins, it also creates a big risk that the OEMs will take their intellectual property and use it to manufacture additional and unauthorized products on top of their agreed- upon volume.

Unscrupulous OEMs will take this opportunity to produce more than the authorized volume. Many factories normally operate on 2 shifts (within official operating hours), and what these unscrupulous factories do is, they open a 3rd shift for production. A medium.com report called this “Ghost Shift or Midnight Shift manufacturing”– because the factory remains open throughout the night to produce units beyond the authorized volume. In certain instances, some OEMs will even cut corners and use substandard material to lower their own costs. And the volume produced in an unauthorized manner which will be distributed to wholesalers, are called Third Shift counterfeit products.

CHANEL FASHION

The Chanel leather bags (with unique own hologram stickers) that are being sold in Chanel boutiques for thousands of dollars are not manufactured by OEMs but are made by the brand’s in- house factories. So if you hear online resellers claim that the Chanel bags they are selling “came from the same manufacturers” hence their “lower” prices, buyer beware. You are in high likelihood, being sold a counterfeit product.

CHANEL BEAUTY and THIRD SHIFT COUNTERFEITS

Chanel GWP that are being resold (without the beauty products and beauty samples) but look the same as the ones that authorized Chanel Beauty outlets (department store counters accredited to sell Chanel beauty products and Chanel.com)  give as GWP, could have been copies made by factories based on procured samples from Chanel beauty counters, or even by their own previously contracted OEMs. Bottom line is, these unscrupulous OEMs and factories are not authorized to reproduce these products. The unauthorized reproduction of these products from OEMs which bear the logo or name of Chanel, are classified as either regular or third shift counterfeits. Bottomline, these products are not legally authorized by Chanel to be resold or to be labeled by unauthorized distributors as authentic “Chanel” products, even if they were just GWP (gifts with purchase).

Many of these online resellers and distributors who claim knowledge on these GWP bags as “authentic” Chanel, are procuring them in large quantities (wholesale), and are selling them with the absence of any Chanel beauty products and samples (which, if these GWP were legitimately procured, would’ve come with them). As a buyer, that information on its own should have already been a red flag to you. These are unscrupulous sellers and distributors who are getting their inventory from counterfeit manufacturers at a low price, and selling them with big profit margins.

This is a collage of photos taken from different resellers who posted these to “inform” their potential customers that their “VIP gifts” inventory has “arrived.” I would personally be alarmed at the amount of inventory each of them have. And as a buyer, I would be questioning the origins of these merchandise they’re peddling as “authentic Chanel.”

These resellers are not authorized by Chanel to engage in the bulk resale or distribution of merchandise bearing their logo. And yet they hawk them to innocent buyers as “authentic” Chanel merchandise, with the difference that these are “VIP items” given to clients who buy beauty products. And some of them leave that disclaimer that the items are not comparable to the ones bought in actual Chanel boutiques. So here’s the burning question, if they were indeed authentic and were purchased directly from authorized Chanel beauty counters (P.S. resellers can show you receipts these days, but even fake receipts can be easily fabricated), where are the Chanel beauty products that should have been included in these bags? Because Chanel beauty products that come with GWP, always have Chanel beauty samples included in them.

Here are more examples of online resellers/ distributors on Instagram who have labelled these fake Chanel bags as “Chanel VIP gifts.”

Photo #1: “Chanel” black fabric tote with chain straps

Instagram reseller marked this bag as “Chanel VIP” (Photo credit: Reseller photo submitted by multiple contributors from Instagram)

Photo #2: “Chanel” black fabric tote with chain straps

Another Instagram reseller also labeled this bag as a “Chanel VIP Tote Bag” (Photo credit: Reseller photo submitted by multiple Instagram contributors)

This particular tote in black fabric with chain straps is being sold between PhP 10,000 to PhP 12,000 (equivalent to US$ 192- $ 230). There are more resellers (rather, unauthorized distributors) who are hawking this same bag on their Instagram accounts, calling it a “Chanel VIP gift” and they are also “accepting pre-orders” of the same bag.

Another thorough search on one of the Chinese marketplace platforms has yielded this result. And while the manufacturer had removed the brand name of the bag on his post, his online buyers posted photo reviews of their purchase– and in those photos, the full name of the brand is printed.

This photo grid contains photos of the same bag from one wholesale manufacturer. And while manufacturer photoshopped the word “Chanel,” two of the clients posted photos with the review of the product– and the photos had the brand name on display!

The bag posted by the manufacturer costs 15.23 € (equivalent to US$ 17.05 or PhP 887). Reseller of the same bag has mark-up pegged at over 1,000%. That’s indeed a very profitable sale for a COUNTERFEIT/ FAKE “Chanel VIP” bag.

Here are more examples:

A black fabric duffle bag is being sold on another Instagram reseller’s page for PhP 6,000. Some even sell it for PhP 10,000.

Again, the same exact item is on one of the Chinese marketplace platforms. The logo once again, conspicuously absent and photoshopped out. But the manufacturers left the word “Paris” on it so their potential clients specifically looking for their products would make the association and understand the inference.

At wholesale price, the duffle costs about PhP 1,207 (approx. US$ 24). And is being peddled for PhP 6,000– a markup of almost 400%.

DECEPTIVE MARKETING AND PHOTOSHOP

After being confronted with questions about the origin of these GWP (I asked them on my Instagram stories where the bags came from, and that they should provide photos of the beauty counters that had these bags), I was sent these photos by Instagram contributors who mentioned that the resellers posted them on their pages (to show that indeed, these bags were “on the Chanel beauty counters”).

So let me get to that and show you the photos that were sent to me (and the photo below has been brightened by us, because the original photo sent was very dark).

After consulting with 2 of the country’s leading commercial photographers on the photo’s authenticity, they unanimously agreed that the bag was in fact, photoshopped into that glass case. And the photoshop job was not exactly well done either. The quality of the photo was made grainy to escape scrutiny.

The first photographer I consulted was Filbert Kung, a Los Angeles- based top commercial and fashion photographer who has photographed countless international fashion covers and editorials, has shot for Coca Cola and other beverage campaigns, photographed Miss Universe beauties, and had also recently covered the red carpet fashion during the Golden Globe Awards last March. Filbert has been a professional photographer for over 14 years, and is very knowledgeable in photo- manipulating apps like Photoshop and Lightroom. After brightening the photo, he was immediately able to discern that the bag was a later addition to the original photo. In other words, the photo was manipulated to include a bag. “The glass case would have originally contained makeup brushes and perhaps another beauty product. Take a look at the right side of the photo, where the side of the bag partially covered the makeup brush. This would not have been seen if I did not lighten the photo. The bag was definitely photoshopped into that case.”

Commercial photographer and cinematographer Wesley Villarica who has shot celebrities and celeb- athletes like boxer Floyd Mayweather for Frontrow ads, and has also shot the latest Gatorade campaigns, had this to say about the photo: “Yes, the bag was photoshopped in.  The reflections on the sides of the bag indicate light sources from the side, which is impossible because there are no visible light sources coming from the sides, within the glass case. And if there were, the reflections from those lights would have been visible on the glass case sides.”

Note the makeup brush beside the bag, and an invisible light source from the side, when the original photo did not have any side LED lights
Note the light source on the side of the bag, and there is no shadow as well on the bag bottom. If you look closely, the bag looks one- dimensional in the photo. There are also markings present on the surface where the bag would’ve supposedly be sitting. There are a lot of inconsistencies in the photo upon close inspection.

Oh and before I move onto the next “proof,” let me also share that the manufacturer of the bag above, is on one of the online marketplaces too.

Yes, the manufacturer of this bag can add the double C logo for wholesale orders.

Here is another bag that really looked so out of place (because it was hastily placed atop one of the vitrines) but was captioned as “proof” that Chanel was giving this bag away as a GWP item.

Incidentally, this same plush bag is being peddled for anywhere between PhP 1,500 to PhP 6,000 on local marketplace platforms and on Instagram reseller accounts. Big price disparity (from US $29 – $117)! And I don’t think the Instagram resellers can call out the cheaper- priced bags as “fakes” because that would be like a pot calling a kettle black!

 

The very same plush logo bags above are manufactured by this company based in China, and the company is on the Chinese marketplace platform, advertising that same product (but with altered text in place of the logo). All those fake “Chanel VIP gift” plush bags being resold on Instagram and Facebook came from the same manufacturer below.

They may have blurred out the logo, but the photo of the “Chanel Precision” tag is unmistakably present and deliberately on display.

No, we aren’t done with the “photo-as- proof” showcase yet. Here’s another bag photo “on the Chanel counter” which resellers claimed is proof that leather bags like this are given away as GWP.

Whoever took this photo and captioned the photo as a ” ‘Chanel’  bag (take note, with quotation marks because this is a counterfeit Chanel item) on the beauty counter” is actually correct in a way– because this was a bag that is literally sitting on the beauty counter at Chanel. Let’s be honest, anyone who has a fake Chanel bag can walk up to an authorized Chanel beauty counter inside a department store to buy cosmetics. They won’t exactly be shooed away by staff for carrying a fake (because unlike the sales associates in a fully- stocked Chanel boutique, these beauty associates are not exactly schooled in how to tell a fake Chanel bag from an authentic one). So anyone can literally walk up to a Chanel counter with a fake Chanel bag, let the bag sit on the counter, and take a photo of their fake bag. Which is what this photo shows. If this were a Chanel beauty GWP, it would not have been placed in a rather awkward position, covering the other products.

This is another supposed “Chanel VIP gift” or Chanel GWP photo.

How do I interpret this photo? The same way I interpreted the photo that preceded this one. This does not seem like a piece of luggage offered by this Chanel beauty counter. It was hastily placed by the counter for photography purposes. I’d also like to address the fact that the supposed “VIP gift” trolley shown in that photo looks remarkably like the one from Chanel during the FW2014- 2015 show which I had attended in Paris– the same exact piece I saw with my own eyes, and subsequently photographed.

It must be said that Chanel would never jeopardize its own leather goods business by giving away large products similar to what they would sell in their boutiques. The photo published by one of the resellers on Instagram claiming that the trolley is an “authentic GWP” item, is a hoax. Chanel Beauty would NEVER give away a trolley like the one from their main Chanel FW 2014- 2015 leather goods collection. Again, why would Chanel Beauty compete with Chanel Fashion (both under one company but operating separately), and give away trolleys that look exactly like the ones being sold at the Chanel leather goods department? Wouldn’t Chanel Fashion customers just flock to Chanel Beauty counters to buy $500 worth of products to get that trolley, instead of spend over $5,000 for that trolley at the Chanel boutique?

Besides, GWP items would not have been hastily positioned around Chanel beauty counters like this. This photo could have been produced and distributed by anyone who brought that bag over to that counter, left it beside the chair, and photographed it just to use as “proof.”  Perhaps the producer of this photo forgot one thing– Chanel is very particular and so meticulous when it comes to visual merchandising.

In an academic dissertation on luxury, graduate professors Shin’ya Nagasawa and Yusuke Irisawa of Waseda University, Japan have dissected the strategies behind Chanel’s beauty products and claimed that “Chanel places as much importance on quality, and the company has achieved a competitive edge through the Spartan approach… The underlying principle of the management of technology by making the most out of it— from lighting of the ceilings in makeup counters [while department stores are tied down to various restrictions in regards to shop space, Chanel was able to obtained approval to customize lighting], down to the mirrors they use [which are developed in- house, and has light- emitting diodes embedded in the rim, with 5 different types of light], is Coco Chanel’s philosophy that everything Chanel offers is designed the bring out the best in Chanel users.”

The study served to confirm one thing– everything that bears the brand and logo of Chanel, goes through the most stringent tests. Something as minute in detail as the overhead lights on the counter, would have gone through layers and layers of testing to give their customers as close- to- perfection as experience as they can offer.  Chanel will not allow their brand reputation to be tarnished by sub-standard quality products that bear their logo or name. Richard Collasse, the new head of travel retail for Chanel and former president of Chanel’s subsidiary in Japan for over 30 years, summed up Chanel’s corporate philosophy: “Chanel has 3 business areas: fashion, fragrance and beauty products, watches and jewellery under the single brand name. We have been focusing efforts to specialize in the respective areas, instead of pursuing them as side businesses of the fashion segment.” Chanel executives leave no stone unturned when it comes to the operations in each of these business areas.

In an article published in Daxue Consulting, a 2018 Global Brand Counterfeiting Reported claimed worldwide losses of US$ 323 billion were due to counterfeiting, and handbag companies alone accounted for US$ 20 billion of that amount. A recent story on the South China Morning Post stressed that Chanel is extremely protective of its brand image, and has in recent years, even taken legal action against second hand marketplaces like The Real Real and What Goes Around Comes Around, both based in the U.S.

Chanel’s president of fashion and of Chanel SAS, Bruce Pavlovsky, noted that “what’s not acceptable is the counterfeits and we see a lot of counterfeits in these marketplaces, including the ones focusing on the second- hand market. It’s very important that, if you have a Chanel label, you can guarantee the best to your customers, so when you’re going in a marketplace and you believe you’re buying a genuine piece but it’s a fake one, that’s not acceptable, and at Chanel we will continue to make our efforts to avoid that. We need to be more protective than ever because it’s about the respect for our customers and at the end of the day, of the brand for sure.”

If the information above is still not enough to convince you that these are not authentic Chanel “VIP Gift Bags,” nor are they authentic Chanel GWP merchandise that came directly from authorized Chanel beauty counters, it should at least already convince you that the products being hawked as such have questionable authenticity. At the end of the day, it is up to you, the buyer, to decide what you will do– will you forego the purchase of these questionable products (that are priced too good to be true) that continue to litter the online marketplaces and platforms in favor of saving money to buy directly from Chanel, or will you support the proliferation of counterfeit designer goods?

Of the latter, Chanel has this official statement:

The choice is really entirely up to you. But Chanel has officially warned you through the above message: “If the deal is too good to be true, you are probably being sold a counterfeit.”  So now, you cannot say you went into a purchase without knowing. All the information I have collected and put together into this super loooooong post, should already be enough for you to make a wise decision.

As for the resellers who continue to peddle these fakes- as- real Chanel “VIP Gift Bags,” it may be helpful for you to check out some of the examples of judgements against the counterfeiters to give you an idea of the penalties and fines that you might have to settle should you be slapped with a lawsuit by Chanel : Chanel ruling 1, Chanel ruling 2, Chanel ruling 3

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