Replica/Ripoff Online Fashion Retailer Milanoo Raises ‘Multiple Millions’ From Sequoia | Signature9

Replica/Ripoff Online Fashion Retailer Milanoo Raises ‘Multiple Millions’ From Sequoia

Exhibit A of why Silicon Valley needs more women in the venture capital arena – at the very least during due diligence: Chinese online retailer Milanoo recently sent out a press release {via Tech Crunch} announcing a multi-million dollar investment from the Chinese arm of Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s largest and most well established venture capital investment firms.

“Since its inception in July of 2008, Milanoo.com has grown by leaps and bounds. Milanoo.com has consecutively increased its revenue by 600% each year that the company has been in business. In three short years, Milanoo.com has grown to serve customers in over 180 countries around the world in seven of the most popular languages – including English, Spanish and French.” – Milanoo press release

The problem? A sizable portion of the merchandise on Milanoo is comprised of designer replica items and out and out knockoffs of everything from Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik shoes to Cate Blanchett’s lavender Givenchy Golden Globes dress and Kate Middleton’s blue Issa engagement dress. We’re not talking “inspired by” designs, of the sort that ASOS built it’s very successful e-commerce business on either; among the domestic Chinese mass market brands are enough designer replicas to fill two or three Canal Street stores.

Christian Louboutin’s legal tenacity for the right to use a red sole on shoes is well documented on designs that are distinctively different from his own, and the company released a video of thousands of Chinese replicas being crushed under the tires of a bulldozer. Though they aren’t called Louboutin replicas by name, the red sole  is difficult to miss, as is the Christian Louboutin logo left in on the product images lifted from other websites (who presumably sell the real thing).

That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the dresses, which are often portrayed through a single image of celebrities on the red carpet wearing the originals that have likely inspired the Milanoo replica version. If the imitation weren’t… flattering enough, many of the images feature the Milanoo watermark on the photos to give the impression that the celebrities are wearing Milanoo.

Original Chinese fashion design talent is not an oxymoron, but China’s efforts to establish homegrown brands that can compete internationally will continue to be a struggle when the segment of the fashion sector that receives “multiple millions” in financial backing is at the risk of having their best selling products wiped out on the wrong side of a bulldozer.

While they do not specify exact figures, one of the more interesting aspects of the press release is the year over year growth and global footprint that Milanoo’s growth suggests is possible for the counterfeit apparel industry. We’ve previously noted that the online promotions counterfeiters employ often trump the original brands’ efforts, but for all of their savvy it’s still normally something of an organic process; the replica sellers don’t have the budgets for agencies and professional promotion. More concerning for the brands behind the original designs, the institutional funding attached to this investment would also seem to indicate that may be changing, and this shadowy segment of the fashion industry is gaining legitimacy faster than anyone may have known.






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