Denim Detective Unzips Fake Jeans Biz

Designers hire PI's to protect their bottom lines
By Michael Foreman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2008 5:06 PM CDT

Chris Johnson likes collecting women's jeans, but he doesn't wear them—he's one of hundreds of fashion detectives hired by designers to spot knockoffs, the Los Angeles Times reports. Johnson trolls stores and Internet sites for clients like True Religion who want to put counterfeiters out of business. The fakes "hurt the brand integrity and deter people from purchasing the product," said a True Religion rep.

Last year, customs officials seized $197 million in fake goods, most of it from China. But it's difficult to stop counterfeiters, Johnson says, because penalties aren't tough enough and most cases can't be prosecuted overseas. Some of Johnson's investigations drag on for years: "It's kind of like playing Whac-a-Mole at the circus. You get one, another one comes popping up." (Read more counterfeiters stories.)

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