Tips & Tricks to Spot a Knockoff


Behind the scenes Leland International’s factory

There’s no doubt about it: Original design is the best option.  Not only does an authentic, original product keep its value, but it is more durable and ages with beauty.

Want to be sure you’re buying the real thing? Spotting knockoffs in the marketplace may be tricky, but it’s an important step. After all, what might look convincing could very likely be manufactured using inferior or even hazardous materials and processes.

Here are a few tips and tricks for spotting knockoffs in the marketplace:

– Check the price against that of approved dealers. All brands have recommended retail prices (often the MSRP, MAP, or RRP), and the price of a knockoff will often be startling lower. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

– Contact the original brand to confirm if a dealer is authorized.  The best way to guarantee an original is to purchase it from a vetted retailer.

– Compare photos of an authentic product on-spot with the potential knockoff.  Details such as the curved, smooth bends shown below on Emeco’s Navy Chair, are a tell tale sign.  Here, the original product on right shows a smooth bend, as a result of a unique series of heat treatments.

Emeco Side by Side

– Compare product specs and measurements. A knockoff may look similar, but will vary in size, materials, and process.

– Look for signs of quality construction everywhere, even in the places hidden from view.

– Is there a manufacturer’s stamp, a serial number, or a designer’s signature? Not all products have these identifying marks, but many do.

– Review the shipping and payment options. Many fake sites operating from China offer Western Union, DHL, or other options that almost no US dealer will offer.

– Trust your instincts. Typically a knockoff does not have the same integrity and will feel obviously cheap. If it’s a piece you’re familiar with, a knockoff might have slightly off dimensions, be made with cheap materials, or look strange.

Many thanks to Design Within ReachEmeco, Cerno, and Tom Dixon for these helpful tips.  

What are your tricks to spotting a knockoff?  Tell us in the comments below, tweet us, or let us know on Facebook.

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