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Denim Detective

Barbara KolsunIn today's WWD, Liza Casabona and Ross Tucker report on the shady world of counterfeit premium denim, with a feature on Seven for All Mankind's general counsel and anticounterfeiting crusader Barbara Kolsun.

Barbara, known as a "mentor in the market," has been successful in building relationships among the legal officers of various luxury brands and bringing them together to take collective action against copyists: 

"We're competitors in the marketplace, but compatriots in the fight against counterfeiting," Kolsun said. 

Interestingly, the general counsel of another company mentioned Barbara to Counterfeit Chic recently (with great admiration), and suggested that Barbara was one of the few industry lawyers willing to talk on the record about her company's battles against counterfeiters.  Most luxury brands, apparently, would rather that any press they receive be focused on more positive issues.  It's one thing to receive attention for the new "it" bag or philanthropic campaign, but quite another to be associated with fake goods and police raids. 

Still, Seven for All Mankind's cooperative approach appears to be having an effect -- and kudos to Barbara for making lawyers (not to mention multiple government agencies) play nicely together.

BTW, how do you tell a counterfeit pair of Sevens?  Well, if you're buying them from a table set up next to your subway stop, there's a good chance that they're fake.  WWD offers list of additional tips as well:

  1. Tapered stitching on both interior and exterior edges of the pocket?  Fake.  The real deal has tapered stitching only on the inside edge and parallel seams on the outside edge.
  2. Missing or generic rivets?  Fake -- Seven rivets (and other hardware) include the company name.
  3. Loose threads and other poor quality construction inside?  Probably fake.
  4. Logo on inside of waistband in wrong font?  Fake.
  5. "Made in China"?  Definitely fake -- Sevens are only produced in the U.S.
  6. Exterior hangtag with different paper quality, font, or twine attachment?  Fake.
  7. Zipper missing name-brand YKK logo?  Fake.

Some of these differences are subtle, but the true denim afficionado will go to great lengths to find the perfect jeans.  Counterfeit Chic's advice?  If you're hoping to score a bargain but unsure whether you're simply getting ripped off instead, bring along a real pair of your preferred brand for comparison -- and if you're still in doubt, CYA elsewhere.

Hat tip to Julie of Almost Girl and Coutorture  and Fashion Wire Daily (and tomorrow the world!).