May 082013

Researchers in Sweden have recently come up with a new way to differentiate between designer products and knockoffs, by weaving a high-tech thread into the fabric that can be detected through a polarizing filter. The thread reveals a pattern that is only visible while being polarized, with the intention stopping the shipment of counterfeit goods.


Figure 1. Weaving hi-tech thread into the fabric

Counterfeit products, (or knockoffs) are high in demand in many places that are prosperous enough to desire them, because they are status symbols and signifiers of taste without the heavy price tag. Those that create the knockoffs know that they will always have a market for them (especially if they’re good knockoffs), so once they get past inspection it’s smooth sailing from there.

I didn’t really think much of this until a writer at Slate brought up why this is significant by labor standards. Actual companies can be held accountable for the labor conditions that their workers exist in, but there is not an authority or watchful public that monitors those that make knockoffs. It’s idealistic to think that major companies would abide by labor laws because they will get into trouble if they don’t, but there is that level of pressure that consumers can exert on them until they change their practices. Existing in a space where there is no monitoring public could lead to poor working conditions and abuse of workers. Having an easier way to identify¬†counterfeit¬†goods could, ideally, curb the creation and distribution of them,which would not only help the designer companies, but potentially shutdown illegal factories.

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