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Chanel accuses the RealReal of selling counterfeit handbags

By Robyn Turk

Nov 20, 2018

Chanel has claimed digital luxury consignment shop the RealReal is guilty of selling fake handbags. It is a serious claim, especially against a retailer that prides itself in its authentication methods. The RealReal states on its website, “We know exactly how to tell a real from counterfeit, from the quality of the leather to the zipper manufacturer.”

The resale retailer describes its authentication system as “an expert behind every item.” The RealReal employs over 50 brand authenticators, gemologists, horologists and art curators who spend their work days inspecting items to ensure everything sold through the site is 100 percent authentic.

Chanel filed a trademark complaint against the RealReal in a New York federal court last week, claiming that “through its business advertising and marketing practices,” the RealReal “has attempted to deceive consumers into falsely believing that The RealReal has some kind of approval from or an association or affiliation with Chanel or that all CHANEL-branded goods sold by The RealReal are authentic.”

According to The Fashion Law, the Parisian fashion house said that it believes that the RealReal has sold at least seven counterfeit Chanel handbags that are “vastly inferior and materially different from genuine Chanel products.” Chanel has also raised question with the training of the RealReal’s authentication experts, stating that only the brand itself can confirm what is genuine Chanel.

The RealReal told Retail Dive yesterday that it rejects Chanel’s claims. “Chanel's lawsuit is nothing more than a thinly-veiled bullying effort to stop consumers from reselling their authentic used goods, and to prevent customers from buying those goods at discounted prices,” the statement read. “They are trying to stop the circular economy. The RealReal stands behind its authenticity guarantee and will continue to provide a safe and reliable platform for consumers to resell luxury items."

Chanel’s problem lies within discounts on its products

This isn’t the first time Chanel has raised issue with consignment of its luxury goods. In March, the luxury brand filed a similar trademark claim against New York vintage store What Goes Around Comes Around. Chanel alleged that the store was selling counterfeit handbags and was “piggybacking” on Chanel’s reputation for its own marketing.

Similar to the RealReal, What Goes Around Comes Around holds high standards of authenticity. According to its website, “WGACA’s expert buyers travel the globe to find the rarest and most desirable pieces in exceptional condition. Their quality standards are unrivaled in the industry and only matched by their dedication to authenticity.”

It seems that Chanel’s main concern is with the accessibility of its products. Consignment and vintage retailers allow shoppers the opportunity to pay a lower price on high quality luxury items, on a scale much lower from the prices the brands set for their own retail. While luxury pricing is mostly rooted in the high cost of production and quality of materials, brands do rely on high prices to ensure a level of exclusivity to their products and those who purchase them. At a conference last week, the founder of luxury e-commerce site Farfetch argued that luxury brands should prevent their retail partners from discounting items to keep luxury products expensive and exclusive.

Photo: via Whatgoesaroundnyc.com