Fake paper bags are the latest buzz in the malls

Updated: 2011-12-12 10:05

By Yang Yijun (China Daily)

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Users give the impression they can afford to shop at stores selling luxury brands

SHANGHAI - It's not only fake designer handbags that are attracting bargain hunters. Nowadays, the fever is spreading to fake paper shopping bags featuring famous brands.

Fake paper bags are the latest buzz in the malls

A customer carrying a Chanel and other luxury paper bags while shopping. The paper bags as well as paper boxes and ribbons featuring a wide rage of luxury brands such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada and Burberry are selling well on websites, but most are imitations, sources said. [Photo/China Daily]

A random search using the keyword combination of "paper bag" with any famous brand name will find dozens - sometimes more than 100 - of results on Taobao.com, the most widely used shopping website in China.

There are more than 80 online stores selling Chanel paper shopping bags. Some 70 are selling Gucci paper shopping bags.

It is hard to tell whether the paper bags are authentic from the photos on the websites, but most are imitations.

The paper bags are usually priced between 5 yuan ($0.78) and 40 yuan. People selling more expensive bags claim theirs are authentic.

In Wang Xuesheng's store, more than 600 paper bags with a Louis Vuitton logo, priced at 3 yuan apiece, sold within 30 days.

Wang sells paper bags as well as paper boxes and ribbons featuring a wide rage of luxury brands such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada and Burberry.

He admitted that the paper bags in his store were just imitations of the real thing.

"Most people buy the bags only for the logo," he said. "In fact, if you take a close look at the bag, you will easily discover that the material is different from authentic ones."

Wang is an owner of a paper-packing factory in Guangzhou. The online store, which has been open for seven months, is just his sideline.

"Although the sales volume is high, the profit is limited. The store earns less than 200 yuan a day despite its 50 percent profit mark-up," he said.

"I used to produce paper bags for people who had created their own brands for online stores but later I noticed an increasing demand for paper bags with logos from high-end goods," he said, adding that the most popular brands in his store are Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

"In the beginning, my clients were mostly people who sell fake handbags. Later, we gradually won more independent customers," he said.

Many people expressed doubts about the appeal of the fake paper bags.

"I'm really surprised that there should be such things for sale. I just can't figure out a single reason to buy those paper bags," said Tang Yuemin, a 25-year-old office worker who works for a German company in Shanghai.

"I don't think people need the logo to make themselves appear wealthy," she said.

But the buyers have their reasons.

"Paper bags with a famous logo are better looking than ordinary ones. I use them to carry things or to contain presents for my friends. They are of good quality and very cheap," said Yang Xiaoya, an office worker in Shanghai, who buys several paper bags at a time, one Gucci, one Dior and four Louis Vuitton.

In some other stores, the owners even provide fake purchase receipts. They can print the article number, price and purchase date at a customer's request on the receipt templates of the famous brands' outlets in Hong Kong and France.

"Selling a fake paper bag is an infringement of the famous brands' intellectual property rights. However, since there is a lack of an effective supervision system for the online shopping platform, it's hard to investigate those stores," said Mo Daiqing, a senior analyst with Hangzhou-based China E-commerce Research Center.

"A major potential risk is that the fake packing and purchase receipts could be used by some purchasing agents to cheat their customers," she added.