Would you buy a Chanel paper shopping bag, without any actual, you know, Chanel inside? In China, increasingly, the answer is yes.
There is a growing market for counterfeit designer shopping bags in China, according to China Daily. And yes, we mean the paper bags, stamped with the designer brand's logo, that are normally given to customers to carry their purchases away in. A quick search on China's most popular online shopping site, Taobao.com (the same site that sold Versace for H&M before it officially hit stores) reveals that paper shopping bags from brands like Hermes, Chanel and Burberry, are available for purchase, ranging in price from about 5 yuan ($0.78) to 40 yuan ($6.28).
Obviously many of the paper bags are being purchased by vendors who sell counterfeit designer purses to further dupe their customers. In one case, a package of 50 Burberry shopping bags is being sold for around $40 and the vendor, according to Google translate, mentions something about the "sales potential." But more and more individuals are buying the bags for their own personal use too.
"In the beginning, my clients were mostly people who sell fake handbags," vendor Wang Xuesheng, who sells (admittedly fake) paper bags as well as paper boxes and ribbons baring the logo of various luxury brands on Taobao.com, told China Daily. "Later, we gradually won more independent customers." He added that the fact that the paper shopping bags aren't even genuine doesn't seem to phase his clientele. "Most people buy the bags only for the logo. In fact, if you take a close look at the bag, you will easily discover that the material is different from authentic ones."
But what exactly are people using these bags for? One woman, Yang Xiaoya, said she uses them "to contain presents for my friends." Which is a nice thought but would also be a huge let down for anyone opening a Chanel shopping bag only to find an off-brand gift inside. Other than that the bags get used much like a tote bag, to carry your odds and ends around with you all day.
But it gets weirder: Apparently some stores will go the extra mile and print fake purchase receipts, in imitation of whatever luxury brand's shopping bag you are buying. We guess the next best thing to shopping at designer stores, is pretending like you shop at designer stores. And looking the part too. "Paper bags with a famous logo are better looking than ordinary ones," Xiaoya said.
But while the price of such paper bags (and the profits to be made from them) are low, they are still in violation of copyright laws. "Selling a fake paper bag is an infringement of the famous brands' intellectual property rights," said Mo Daiqing, a senior analyst with Hangzhou-based China E-commerce Research Center. The main concern, he says, "is that the fake packing and purchase receipts could be used by some purchasing agents to cheat their customers."
Which means you'll have to think twice before purchasing that too-good-to-be-true Hermes bag, complete with shopping bag and receipt.