Armani v Looky Looky
Is there anything more annoying when you're trying to relax on your hard earned holiday than someone pestering you on your sunlounger, cafe terrace or street corner trying to flog you some obviously cheap fake handbags, watches, sunglasses or crown jewels?
No. It's no fun for us, no fun for shop owners who sell the real thing, no fun for the real manufacturers, and no fun for the police who have to try to control these illegal street hawkers. It seems that no resort, city or town in Spain is immune from a plague of street vendors selling cheap counterfeit goods displayed on sheets, hand held shoe boxes or piled on top of their heads.
Known universally as Looky Looky men or Top Manta (manta is blanket in Spanish) these African hawkers – usually from Senegal – are in the main illegal immigrants to Spain and pay neither taxes nor social security and are of course also acting illegally by passing off their wares as something they are not.
Recently there have been lots of protests by genuine market traders about the unfair competition from the Looky Lookies and police are stepping up their actions against them. As the Lookies melt away like mercury at the first sign of the boys in blue, the police are concentrating their efforts at cutting their supplies at source.
This summer the cops have confiscated over 35,000 fake items and just recently closed down a big warehouse with around 8,000 items all with their origin in the far east and China. This haul included items by Armani, Boss, Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes and Kors, and police reckon that the street value of the goods would be around €2 million!
Whilst I would never dream of buying anything from one of these guys, obviously enough people do to make it viable for the hawkers to keep trading. Whilst it's obvious (or it should be) that the goods are cheap fakes their sale is what the police and authorities call 'the illegal usurpation of the brands,' ie the use of a cheap fake lessons the desirability of the real and previously exclusive item.
The newest weapon in the fight against fakery is a new law being introduced in Palma (probably in September) in a raft of reforms concerning uncivil behaviour which makes it illegal to buy any fake goods from the Top Manta men. Fines will range from €100 up to €750 though I certainly won't need any financial deterrent to purchasing a load of cheap rubbish. How about you?