Following on the heels of the launch of the TikTok Shop in the US, Entrupy, an AI-powered luxury authenticator, has partnered with the social media giant as an official authentication provider of pre-owned luxury handbags on the platform.
Founded in 2012, Entrupy’s aim is to protect businesses, consumers and borders from transacting in counterfeit goods by guaranteeing the authenticity of products through microscopy and imagery. As the counterfeit market mushrooms due to the continued expansion of resale, the need for establishing trust, maintaining quality standards, and delivering a seamless positive experience for both sellers and shoppers has never been greater.
Entrupy’s AI technology has a 99.1% accuracy rate allowing it to spot what the human eye can’t. Although tech and data-driven from the outset, luxury wasn’t Entrupy’s initial priority. “We just wanted to develop technology to make a dent in counterfeiting as a whole,” founder Vidyuth Srinivasan told FashionUnited, adding that art authentication was the service in high demand at the time, but he also explored the fields of education, food and pharmaceuticals. But, said Srinivasan, "luxury was a good fit,” and while he remains proud of the technology’s success rate, he isn’t resting. “It’s a cat and mouse game and will never completely be solved," he said. "You’ll always have new data, new kinds of fakes; it’s constantly evolving and that includes new discoveries that we make.”
Srinivasan views the existence of Entrupy technology as a way to disincentivize or demotivate the counterfeiter and works with bodies as diverse as wholesalers, brick and mortar retailers, marketplaces, online resellers, pawn shops, and government agencies. Entrupy authenticates handbags, small leather goods and, as of recently, sneakers but has ambitions to expand into other product categories.
From super fakes to dupe culture
Consumer interest in fake goods has led to the creation of the most sophisticated copies ever and, according to a survey cited in Entrupy’s annual State of the Fake report, 50.7 percent of Gen Z consumers, “were either indifferent or not concerned about the issue of counterfeits.” Meanwhile a rise on social media of dupe culture, a sort of counterculture that promotes blatant knockoffs that borrow from the cachet of high-end brands but which are affordable and seen as subversive and democratizing luxury trends, fuels the production of inauthentic product that is eventually destined for landfill. “Cooperation and sharing of data between different shareholders is very important,” said Srinivasan. “One of the big issues that undermines the industry and gives counterfeiters free rein is brands’ unwillingness to talk about the problem due to concerns about brand dilution.” But it is the elephant in the room that won’t be ignored.
Quoted in Entrupy’s 2023 report, the CEO and co-founder of luxury resale platform Sellier, Hanushka Toni, whose platform uses Entrupy technology, recalls an encounter with a convincing Hermès mini Kelly bag: “It was visually perfect. However when we inspected it, we noticed that it didn’t smell like an Hermès bag which has that distinctive ‘new car smell.’ It was confirmed as a fake. With a bad fake, human authentication will get you there, but with a super fake there is still a 15% chance of error. With our low-volume, high margin strategy, we simply can’t risk shipping out products that are not authentic.” In 2020 alone, Entrupy reports that illegal imports into the US cost the economy 54.1 billion dollars, and almost one third of products seized were handbags and wallets.
Sasha Benz, owner of luxury vintage resale e-commerce site Wyld Blue who also operates brick and mortar locations in Montauk, Long Island; Aspen Colorado; and Manhattan’s West Village, partnered with Entrupy 2 years ago. "It is used on a daily basis in all of our stores. Their AI programming was so easy to implement and has provided us with extra reassurance our customers are getting their money's worth,” she told FashionUnited. “We were surprised it was so easy to use and has helped us decide what third party wholesalers to source from.
How Entrupy AI-powered authentication technology works
FashionUnited viewed a demo by Amanda Singer, Entrupy's Business Development Lead, of the technology at work on a Louis Vuitton monogrammed canvas pochette. The device required resembles a smartphone which is equipped with a pre-installed app. The user when connected to Wifi is invited to select from a material menu, then asked to take a photo of the material, date code, interior fabric, logo and hardware. The images are submitted to the server along with any other information entered and Entrupy’s enhanced computer vision and machine learning scans a database of 25 million unique images of luxury items, their logos, hardware, leather, and authentication cards. Entrupy supports 22 of the top luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chanel, Dior, including some accessible luxury names such as Coach, MCM and Nike. There is a set up fee of 500 dollars and users choose between a monthly or annual subscription from a choice of tiers. Accuracy and scalability plus an almost instantaneous result is something customers have grown to expect.
When we asked Singer about the likelihood of a future in which individuals will be able to use their smartphone to authenticate their own purchases, she replied. “Absolutely. That is where we are headed.”