Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Rolex is one of the world's most-searched brands... for fakes

Along with Rolex, Kanye West's sneaker label Yeezy and French fashion house Louis Vuitton are the top three most sought-after fashion brands online when it comes to counterfeits

Published: Nov 12, 2021 04:12:48 PM IST
Updated: Nov 18, 2021 04:03:10 PM IST

Rolex is one of the world's most-searched brands... for fakesRolex tops the list of most-searched fake designer fashion brands, according to a new study.
Image: Michael Buholzer / AFP

The Swiss watch manufacturer Rolex seems to be so sought-after globally that those unable to afford the real thing are turning to counterfeit models. A new study even names Rolex as the most sought-after fashion brand online when it comes to counterfeits, with more than 200,000 searches for "fake Rolex" carried out each year worldwide.

The former French President Nicolas Sarkozy once said that if you don't have a Rolex by 50 then you've pretty much failed at life. This phrase still seems to resonate among fashion fans who don't have the opportunity—or the means—to afford one of the famous watchmaker's genuine articles. The USwitch*platform, with the help of the search tool Ahrefs, looked into the most sought-after brands for counterfeits in several sectors—including fashion—in the run-up to Black Friday, a time of year when consumers enjoy all kinds of discounts ahead of the end-of-year celebrations. And the result is clear: Rolex is by far the most popular fashion brand for fakes, with no less than 228,000 searches per year.

The watch manufacturer is followed by Yeezy, a more accessible brand, although the rarity of stock quickly pushes up prices. The study reports some 180,000 annual online searches for counterfeit versions of the brand's authentic products. Next in line are the luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton (156,000), the affordable Crocs brand with its iconic rubber shoes (81,600), and the designer fashion labels Gucci (80,400) and Balenciaga (48,000).

Looking specifically at designer bags, Louis Vuitton is the most-searched brand for imitation handbags, with no less than 31,200 searches per year. It is followed by Gucci (15,600), Saint Laurent (13,200), Prada (12,000), Chanel (12,000) and Telfar (6,000) whose iconic tote bags (the real ones) are snapped up like hotcakes.

From fake handbags to counterfeit cosmetics

While fashion items are among the most sought-after counterfeit goods, there's also a certain level of demand for fake cosmetics. Turning to products of unknown origin may seem surprising at a time when consumers are shunning complex formulations for simplicity and transparency. Nevertheless, fake versions of some beauty brands' cosmetics are particularly popular. This is the case of Olaplex (1,800 annual searches), La Mer (720) and Too Faced (600).

* Conducted in November, the research is based on the top brands listed on Flannels and Net-a-Porter, and on the creation of three data sets on designer products, including popular fashion brands or designer bags. The study also looked at national newspaper titles and leading tech and beauty to compile lists of the most popular tech and beauty brands and products. Then the authors paired each term with the word ‘fake' and used Ahrefs search tool to gather the number of annual global searches for each search term.

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