If you’ve been following the fetishistas coverage of latex fashion piracy, you’ll already know that a number of mostly Chinese websites are pushing generally substandard garments using images and, by extension, designs that they have stolen from legitimate latex labels in the West.
So you may be interested to learn about three new latex knock-off websites that crossed our radar in the closing months of last year.
In what may be a sign of the increasing sophistication of the Far Eastern latex copycat industry, two of these operations seem to have offices in Europe, while the third misrepresents itself as a UK business.
The latter, CATSUITS-LATEX.COM, includes this invitation on its website: “Buy quality latex catsuits online from UK’s most trusted latex fetish clothing retailer, save up to 50% on the high street and free shipping worldwide.”
In fact, this site is just another variation of the Chinese site sexiw.com, with prices that are not that much cheaper than Libidex‘s current sale prices.
Both Chinese sites are filled with stolen images with the heads cropped off. I made them remove a shot of one of my own designs that they had stolen, but I still appear on the site in another stolen and Photoshopped image from a 2001 Latex Lair shoot. I’ve decided to leave it there for now to amuse myself.
Also stolen are a fair number of Polymorphe catalogue photos, Latexa items (Latexa says the company is not a customer in either of its guises), Vex Clothing images and possibly some from Blacklickorish Latex too.
E-mails to either site are answered by “Sarah Gan” or “Ariel”. When pressed, they admit the site is based in Hong Kong/China, but make pleas to be taken seriously, as this e-mail I received from “Ariel” shows:
I’m not sure if we have claimed that we located in the UK. I can tell you that we are really in China. I know there were too much Chinese produced poor quality products before and now.
But there are also much young people trying to change this. It needs a long time I think. But we are struggling. We do our best to offer best service for our customers.
Now we can have a talk about our products. “We are committed to using pure natural latex raw materials and making high quality latex clothing. Our raw materials from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Hai’nan Island of China.”
If there’s someone says that our material contains some toxic substance, please let him show the appraisal certificate out. And in China we have lots of cheap labor, it help us offer more lower price.
I understand the people who don’t like Chinese, because there’s so much unthinkable things happened in this unthinkable land, which charged by a unthinkable government. But please believe, there’s always beautiful things. Just need you to find.
How could one fail to be moved by such a missive? In my case, the answer is: easily.
FINE2SHINE.NL is purportedly a Dutch retailer selling inexpensive latex. While all the site text is in Dutch, I’ve spotted numerous photos from other sites — including Libidex/Tall Goddess, Gaelyn & Cianfarani, and Simon O/LatexCult.de/Sweet Jessy, as well as other photos from Jade Vixen, Darenzia, Kendra James, Apnea, Christine Kessler, Marquis, and more.
Bizarrely, in its latex shop section, the company also mixes these stolen fetish designer and model photographs with a substantial number of Second Life avatar-style computer-generated fetish characters.
All this leads me to conclude that the company is in the business of selling knock-offs made in China, or worse, nothing at all.
According to Kumimonster, whoever’s behind the company will remove copyright images when pressed. So it may be worth a visit to see if you recognise anybody you know.
Click on the Shopping tab of the Chinese EASY2BID.COM website and you’ll be taken to wholesale.easy2bid.com, where a range of shopping options includes wedding and party dresses, martial shoes and fashion bags, along with latex dresses.
In the latex section, Easy2Bid appears to be offering garments by HMS Latex, Catalyst, Naucler, Venus Prototype, Jane Doe and Latexa, plus Katy Perry‘s famous Syren dresses — all illustrated by images from the original makers’ websites, and in many cases using the same style names.
But I can state for certain that none of the latex shown from the above-mentioned labels is authorised to appear on this site. So if you buy any of these designers’ creations from this site, you are buying knock-offs, not the original designs produced by the lawful copyright owners.
Click on the About link and you’ll learn that this is the site of the Easy2Bid marketplace, a venture launched in December 2009 by EB Global, a Danish incorporated company based in Copenhagen.
The impression given by the comprehensive and well-written About blurb (which includes a picture of Danish CEO Peter-Mikal B Hansen) is of a respectable European operation representing Chinese and Vietnamese manufacturers.
But that doesn’t seem to have prevented it from going along with some less-than-respectable latex copyright theft.
Of course, a European operation representing Far Eastern suppliers might argue that the images on its website came direct from those suppliers, and that they have been used in good faith, without knowledge of their true origins or any copyright issues arising.
In which case designers will no doubt want to inform Mr Hansen of any breaches of their copyright, so that he and his Chinese associates can remove images that they do not have the right to use. And to anyone who tries this, please let us know the outcome.
STOP PRESS: A brand new sighting on my radar — the first of 2012 — is ZENTAI.24RETAIL.COM, a company presenting itself as a retailer of zentai suits and latex catsuits, dresses, corsets and accessories.
All its website latex photos have been lifted, minus tops of heads, straight from Libidex, and the garment descriptions even use the original Libidex style names!
I was quickly able to establish that Libidex is not wholesaling to this company, and though the home page advertises a Washington State phone number, the 24retail site blurb states that it is a “retail website for global which based in China”— so draw your own conclusions.
Incidentally, while this site makes the usual claims for low prices, there are quite a few examples where you can get the genuine item in the current Libidex sale cheaper than the knock-off.
Unless of course you want to gamble on Zentai’s “made-to-measure” knock-offs being better than the Libidex originals. In which case, best of luck to you.
3 WAYS TO SPOT A LATEX FAKE
The question comes up on latex forums with alarming regularity: “Do you know xxx.com? Are they legitimate? They have very nice things.”
Usually almost at first glance, the site will set off warning bells to anybody who’s shopped for latex long enough. But to newcomers with no point of reference, the clothing may appear too good to pass up.
There are three ways in which you can generally spot a knock-off or scam site. Check out the telltale signs below, and for fun, test on sexiw.com, latexcatfish, milanoo, or any number of eBay shop sites.
1. Office Lady Uniform
Enter the words “office lady” in the search field of the site. If it shows up, you more than likely have a Chinese knock-off site.
2. Size chart
The size chart shown below is also a dead giveaway of a Chinese knock-off operation. If you see it, you’re on a copycat’s site.
3. Heads cut off
Some websites automatically crop thumbnails so models’ heads don’t show, but when you click through to the full-size image, the whole head should be visible. If it isn’t, the image was almost certainly borrowed or stolen and the site you’ve found is a knock-off seller or scammer.
Caution: there are exceptions to rule 3, where designers purposely show garments in a “look book” style without heads — such as on Kim West’s Luxury Latex site. However, with a little practice, it becomes easy to tell the difference between a look book shot and a copycat’s crop.
AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE Heidi Patterson is a fetish commentator and regular contributor to The Fetishistas who also has her own latex line, Essential Latex.