In fashion, even the littlest thing one says has the potential to cause massive disarray. Case in point: Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli’s surprising opinion on imitations. In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Robyn Meredith, Miuccia Prada’s husband harmlessly discussed the company’s growth, pricing strategy, and expansion plans—until Bertelli was asked on the abundance of counterfeit goods in China.
Bertelli responded by saying, “I always say counterfeits, we’re happier to have them than not have them. Don’t you think it’s sad for a brand that no one wants to copy them?” The CEO does make a valid point in saying that the benchmark for success these days is the emergence of counterfeits. This surprising dash of positivity on the issue was put on an even brighter note with Bertelli saying that “maybe they’re [counterfeits] not totally bad.” He furthered that brands and counterfeits serve dual function as the latter also provide “a source of labor and income” for other people. “We want to penetrate the markets, we want to become successful and sell a lot in new markets. And we end up creating a lot of jobs and counterfeit factories, so that’s very good.”
While Bertelli’s statement may have turned on a pro-counterfeit stance, he did add that they do protect their products through various lawsuits amid the challenge this task pose. “And also, our industry doesn’t lend itself very well to patent protection. It’s not like the high-tech industry where patents are a lot more effective,” Bertelli concluded.
Coming from the CEO of one of the world’s most valuable brands, we’re betting other luxury labels are not too happy with Bertelli’s bold stance on the issue. After the World Wide Web was ablaze with bewilderment and an enormous question mark, a Prada spokesperson responded via Women’s Wear Daily to perhaps iron out the kinks of their CEO’s statement saying, “The quote is part of an extended conversation that underscored how the market of counterfeits is an objective reality for successful brands and how this phenomenon has its own reality, also in terms of manufacturing, that is very structured.”
Whether or not labels are siding with Bertelli doesn’t really take away the age-old reality that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery—and also that counterfeiting is illegal and immoral.