I feel better knowing that Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli is completely okay with me buying knock-offs of his brand. I mean, I don’t actually know where I would go to buy a knock-off. But now, if I’m in the mood to pretend that I can afford Prada, Patrizio says that I can go ahead and indulge in inferior products that steal his company’s designs and logo.
This is a little a surprising, right? That a successful CEO of the high-fashion world is okay with counterfeiting?
I have to admit that Bertelli’s explanation was impressively logical. The businessman explained to Bloomberg,
“I always say counterfeits, we’re happier to have them than not have them. Don’t you think it’s sad for a brand that no one wants to copy them? So there would be the first serious answer on counterfeits. And something else about counterfeits is that they provide a source of labor and income for lots of other people. So, maybe they’re not totally bad. So, in other words, we have a dual function. We want to penetrate the markets, we want to become successful and sell a lot in new markets. And we end up creating a lot of jobs and counterfeit factories, so that’s very good. And of course, we engage in all possible lawsuits and everything we can do to protect our products, which is very challenging. And also, our industry doesn’t lend itself very well to patent protection. It’s not like the high-tech industry where patents are a lot more effective.”
It seems to me that Bertelli considers a couple key concepts that many others in the fashion world prefer to ignore. People who would purchase a counterfeit item probably don’t have the resources to buy the real thing. These designers aren’t really missing out on a ton of revenue, because if the counterfeits weren’t available, the consumer would just buy a cheaper brand. Likewise, those who can afford a luxury brand, aren’t going to buy a fake. They’re obviously more concerned about quality and status. Buying a knockoff would be demeaning to anyone who could actually afford something from Prada.
The prices in high-fashion have hit such an astronomical level, these brands have to realize that the majority of the population will never be their customers. But they do want to create an image of popularity. In that way, being knocked off is probably good for their image as a brand. Insert corny quote about imitation and flattery here.