Counterfeit goods are an issue with many high-end retailers all over the world. The Italian shoe powerhouse Salvatore Ferragamo made an announcement at Paris Fashion Week that the company has been inserting microchips into women’s shoes since 2014 in an effort to combat this issue, according to a Friday article in Pop and Press. Ferragamo has added men’s shoes, women’s leather goods and luggage to the list of microchipped goods.
How are they doing this? RFID. RFID is short for radio frequency identification, a technology that, as the name states, uses radio waves to identify objects. The radio wave microchips will allow Ferragamo to “track the shoe with certainty, giving the group better control in the fight against fakes,” he said.
What necessitated this extreme push toward a technology typically reserved for network-oriented business operations? The most obvious answer is to fight against the number of fake products out in the market. However, this has always been a struggle most, if not all, luxury brands face.
According to The Economist, American border officials in 2014 confiscated counterfeits that, had they been real, would have been worth approximately $1.2 billion. The European Union counterpart cited that it had seized 768 million euros ($1 billion) of fakes the year before.
“The people who can afford to spend thousands on a purse often get tired of them after six months and tend to sell them on eBay,” Greg Furman, of the Luxury Market Council in New York, told The New York Times. “More and more brands are realizing that there is resale value to their products that’s lost on eBay.”
Because websites like eBay and Alibaba are offering high-end goods at a discounted price, sellers with genuine products are losing out and resale value, overall, is nearly nonexistent.
This issue has been especially demonstrated in China within the recent years as Ferragamo faced slowing demand in the country due to the staggering number of counterfeit leather shoes and goods, according to Business of Fashion. In 2015, Ferragamo worked with Chinese authorities to destroy or confiscate nearly 25,000 counterfeit goods. The company also worked to block 91,000 online advertisements that heavily promoted willing sellers with imitation goods. The total dollar amount of confiscated counterfeit goods in China in 2015 amounted to $17 million, according to Vogue.
Technology once reserved to identify goods within a supply chain is now being incorporated within the fashion realm. As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated and new demands are brought to light, the walls that once separated fashion from operations, information technology from art, are slowly coming down.