It’s the real deal: Class explains genuine vs fake

By Xu Junqian
It’s the real deal: Class explains genuine vs fake
Even in shopping malls, sales staff will replace authentic goods with high-quality fakes, according to Lin Li, a 22-year-old college student, who attended a luxury appraisal class in Shanghai. (Dave Tacon / for China Daily)

Luxury appraisal courses gain favor among the wealthy as counterfeit goods become harder to distinguish, Xu Junqian in Shanghai reports.

The record summer heat left Shanghai’s famed Tianzifang, an alley usually crowded with tourists and sightseers during the weekend, nearly deserted on a recent scorching day. One or two residents in slippers and pajamas took advantage of the rare quiet to chat with their neighbors in the passageway. Crowds of busy tourists, appearing and disappearing as fast as summer showers, took some snapshots of the “must-see sight” listed by almost every tour guide, then quickly rushed into the air-conditioned mall across the street.But in a three-floor industrial-style loft building tucked deep in one of the alleys, which on weekdays houses art galleries and fashion designers who have their stores nearby, the summer heat gave way to something more “serious”.

It was the first luxury appraisal class held in the city, perhaps even the whole country.

The three-hour course, held on a Saturday afternoon when the temperature crossed 40 C, was organized by, a Chinese fashion-industry trade journal. It charged 200 yuan ($32.70) a person for what the organizers called “the elementary-level course” to distinguish authentic luxury products from the fake.

“The first day that enrollment was announced, the class was filled,” said Ye Qizheng, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the website.

The original plan was to admit about 20 people, a number Ye said usually took weeks to achieve for earlier courses such as fashion trend prediction. But for the luxury appraisal class, more than 40 people called and mailed “from all over China” on the first day, forcing Ye and his team to take the notice off their website.

“I browsed 50 pages of Google searches to find a course of this kind. I was thrilled to learn (there is) one taking place in Shanghai,” said 28-year-old Yang Yijing, who traveled with her boyfriend all the way from the Ningxia Hui autonomous region for the course.

Yang, the daughter of a local well-off car dealer, said she had been wanting to “do some business involving secondhand luxury goods” after returning from Milan, Italy, where she finished graduate studies in luxury management in 2012.

As she found that what she’d learned overseas had little practical use in her hometown, where “luxury needs little management but only a presence”, she decided to focus on something more novel but also potentially profitable — selling expensive cast-offs, or in Yang’s words, “vintage luxury”.

As she said, “the first thing I need to learn is telling the real from the fake, and it’s something you can only learn in Asia, where fakes are produced.”


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