The first structured study analyzing online sales of counterfeits in the Italian eyewear and footwear sectors, two key industries in the country, show that the most dangerous sites are large e-commerce platforms, first and foremost those in China and other parts of the Far East. The results of the latest study were presented by Assocalzaturifici and Anfao, the Italian trade associations for the footwear and optical industries, and other institutions on Jan. 22.

When it comes to eyewear, ordinary B2C online stores account for 54 percent of the fake eyewear sold, followed by “Web 1.0” or read-only internet platforms for 21 percent of the glasses and by social networks for the balance. In the footwear sector, B2C is responsible for 73 percent of the forgeries and Web 1.0 for 18.2 percent of them.

Conducted on more than 700,000 documents retrieved from the web, the study was based on a sample of 57 eyewear brands, clustered by type, and 54 footwear brands, subdivided by price and international market presence. In particular, the analysis focused on the value and frequency of web pages occupied by counterfeit brands and the ways these pages operated. The results were then sub-divided based on search engines and on B2B and B2C environments.

The phenomenon of counterfeiting, which represents a major threat for the entire Italian economic and manufacturing sector, has been accentuated by the recession and the penetration of the internet. The overall value of the goods seized across the sectors covered by Fiamp, an Italian federation of producers of fashion accessories, stood at more than €208 million in 2012 alone.

Anfao estimates that between €100 million and €150 million in revenues were lost by Italian eyewear companies in 2012, along with more than 500 jobs. This adds to the damage caused to the Italian state by uncollected VAT and taxes. In addition, counterfeit products and others that are sold outside of regulated channels are made in ways that do not conform to product safety regulations and are often dangerous.

The study also showed the existence of veritable cross-brand and cross-product counterfeiting networks, suggesting the need for measures that cut across different sectors as opposed to those that focus on individual brands or companies.