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“Handbag, handbag Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Coach, Louis Vuitton!” Why not go with the flow to take a look at the illegal knockoff handbags sold throughout Chinatown’s Canal Street storefronts? Canal Street is known for offering a lot of merchandise such as accessories, jewelry but most importantly fake designer purses and wallets. One can easily purchase a knockoff handbag sold for $30 to $150 in contrast to purchasing a real designer bag at retail price $450 and above. However, buyers are escaping the main issue of purchasing an illegal handbag that violates the copy infringement law of designers.

The appearance of a cheap knockoff bag may be appealing but the process of obtaining one is dangerous. Street vendors pressure buyers to purchase knockoffs and guide them into a back room, ally way, restaurant, back of a store, or in an empty train station to make transactions.

“Four years ago it was a little easier. The fake handbags were more publically displayed,” said Sharon Lockley, a shopaholic. “Now, they are so secretive and hide everything. It’s hard to trust the vendors because they take you into dangerous places like dungeons.”

They act secretive by using walkie talkies to check the knockoff items for customers. This secret act is to hide from undercover detectives. “Undercovers [unexpectedly] raid Chinatown stores and confiscate almost $1 million of illegal goods like handbags, wallets, sneakers, and rolex watches,” an anonymous undercover officer.

Buyers seek a knockoff to directly match the real bags. I was told the straps and sides must be leather but for some people that’s not the case. “No matter what they say about it being all leather, it’s not. It is pleather and I refuse to pay no more than $30 for a knockoff designer bag,” said Lockley.

My story stands at a point where the blackmarket of selling knockoff handbags needs to come to an end. As the police invade into the secret world, the vendors appear to be more aggressive to buyers, while the buyers risk their lives in dangerous settings. It’s a triangle trade and my clips below reflect pictures of the counterfeit crime on canal street, a bar graph, a audio soundslide, and a youtube video that gives live footage of selling a knockoff handbag and an interview from a buyer.

Click here to see link for photo gallery

Source: Census Bureau from 2006-2009

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