Canal Street, New York is ground-zero for counterfeiting retailers. A barely tolerated haven to hawk knock-offs and fakes of some of the world's best-known brands.
Diesel's parent company spends vast sums of money tracking down, then closing down, counterfeiters: last year they pursued and subsequently compelled to close down 86 websites selling copies of their products. It is strange, therefore, that when 'Deisel' popped up just off Canal Street in early February, Diesel were seemingly uninterested.
That was because Diesel had orchestrated the opening and operation of the "counterfeit" store. Marking hoodies, sweatshirts and jeans with a "just not quite right" version of its famous logo, Diesel had decided to play the counterfeiters at their own game.
The store was originally intended to remain open until last Monday, but sold out and closed down over the preceding weekend. Small surprise, when jeans usually retailing for over $200 were on sale for $69.99, and the buzz about the pop-up had caused a block-long queue to form. Contributing to that buzz was Instagram sensation and rapper, Gucci Mane.
Gucci have, of course, played this game themselves. They launched a line of 'Guccy' products in collaboration with Dapper Dan, the counterfeiter they were previously trying to shut down.
While the tactic is certainly interesting, and the event has been a big commercial and public relations success, questions have to be asked about its long-term viability. Surely Diesel can't carry on hosting rapper-endorsed pop-ups for 'Deisel' clothing. It will, perhaps, be for the success of the new online 'Deisel' venture to determine how this strategy will play out.
We will certainly be keeping an eye out to see whether undercutting your own products with what is essentially a "budget" line (albeit with almost unique marketing) can help keep the counterfeiters at bay.
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