Copycats, fakes, counterfeits. It seems to happen to every brand, eventually, right? Think that counterfeit goods are the same products, only cheaper? The answer will shock you. (Plus, how to spot a fake, before it’s too late.)
“Check this out,” says the Mum at Mother’s Group, whose babe is always dressed head to toe in brands, brandishing a cuddle blankie that looks kind of like River Kippin. “It’s from Kippins, except I got it for a third of the price.”
It happens all the time. The brands you’ve been eyeing off, saving for perhaps, suddenly in the hands of a friend’s child. And SO cheap. What’s the deal? How come Mother’s Group Mum can get Kippins so cheaply, when you’re over here paying full price like a sucker?
So you grab said Cuddle Blankie, and straight off the bat, it’s clear that things are a little…weird. That’s not organic cotton you’re feeling under your fingers. It’s fuzzy, and plastic feeling. It’s hugely oversized, in fact it looks like it would cover an entire toddler, face and all. The proportions are all a bit weird too, and the face looks kind of…off, like River’s been sipping moonshine instead of hanging out by the River of Lovely Thoughts.
It’s probably just faulty stock from the brand, sold to discount retailers, right?
An example of a listing of fake Kippins on AliExpress.
We’re giving it to you straight. When it comes to Kippins products, buying counterfeits is putting your child in harm’s way. Here’s why.
- They’re made in the same factories that they make cheap toys for cats and dogs (from the same materials).
- They are not safety tested. In fact, their production is completely unregulated and performed as cheaply as possible. This means no needle detection (it is very common in factories for lost/broken needles to end up in products), no dye or fabric testing (think of the recalls of some large name branded products recently – some traditionally used dyes are proven to be harmful to children). They are unsafe for your child.
- They do not look like the photos. These companies use our photos to sell their products, which have a completely different look and feel once you receive it, if you receive it at all. Once you have paid, there is no way of retrieving your money. Confused about all those positive reviews? These are easy to fake.
- The materials used may contain the following chemicals: AZO Dyes, Formaldehyde, phthalates, lead, cadmium. Half of the PET toys developed in China would not pass Australian and US standards (and people give these counterfeits to babies!).
- They are made from polyester (that means plastic) and are therefore extremely flammable. DO NOT put them in your baby’s cot.
- The are incredibly ugly and not at all Kippiny (sorry, had to throw that one in).
An example of a genuine product (left), and the dangerously oversized polyester counterfeit. This piece was sold using the listing below.
“That’s ok,” says Mother’s Group Mum. “I bought my fuzzy Kippin from Mary who sells products at the local markets. I like Mary, surely she’s not selling counterfeits.”
Sadly, Mary is part of a counterfeit supply chain. Counterfeit manufacturers have many channels of getting their products to market, we’ve listed these below:
Online Marketplaces: AliExpress, AliBaba are the main culprits. You will also find a lot of counterfeit products on eBay, Amazon and websites like Wish. The latter are all good at working with brands to remove counterfeit products as soon as they are identified. However, AliBaba and AliExpress are notorious for not giving a flying Kippin. Note: Every single Kippins product listed on AliExpress and Alibaba is counterfeit. We (Kippins) have an official Amazon store that you can purchase through (if you are located in the US). We do not currently allow sales on eBay.
Online boutiques: These retailers are on-selling product purchased in wholesale amounts via AliExpress and AliBaba. They will fool you into thinking they are selling genuine Kippins products. Occasionally we will get retailers who are inexperienced and did not know that they were purchasing counterfeit products. For anyone interested in starting an online store, you can ONLY purchase genuine products wholesale via a brand directly. Anyone claiming to be a representative of the brand should not be trusted and you should always verify with the brand themselves.
Facebook/Instagram stores: Kippins do not sell to facebook and Instagram only stores. You will often find that these retailers sell only through private groups (this is so that we can’t find them). They will sell these products more cheaply than on our website.
Local markets: Kippins do not allow the sale of their products at markets, full stop. These retailers have also purchased product from one of the aforementioned websites. If you see a Kippins product at the markets, do not buy it. In fact, if you take down the name of the store and email it to us, we’ll give you a 20% off gift voucher for helping us protect our precious babes. Just email email@example.com.
Another example of a listing for a counterfeit Kippin Cuddle Blankie.
Want to spot the fakes? Here’s a few hot tips:
The vibe. Does the seller seem legitimate? Are they a trusted retailer with a very public profile? Have you looked at our stockist finder to see if they are an official stockist?
Labels. Kippins products include certain information on all labels, this is required by law. This includes a registered business address, a production tracking number, a GOTS logo and our Eek I’m lost tag.
The materials. This is the best indicator. We use smooth, non-fuzzy organic cotton because this is the safest material to use in a comforter. It does not shed small fibres cannot be inhaled into your baby’s lungs or ingested into their stomachs. It is lightweight and breathable.
The colour. Most of the fakes were manufactured in 2015. This means that they have copied our original colourways. You will find Kitty Kippin is bright pink with grey love hearts. River Kippin will have the same colourway. Billie Kippin is a very bright aqua colour. Splits Kippin is the world’s most hideous yellow. We have recently seen counterfeits emerge for Coco and Bam.
Safety testing. It might surprise you, but proof of safety testing isn’t required before you bring a toy to market. Yes, even some of your favourite brands sell toys (rattles, comforters etc) that are NOT safety tested. As a brand that distributes globally, we are required to safety test to three international standards (in fact, most of our distributors cannot even import our products into their country without our independent safety certificates). It is your right as a parent to ask every retailer if they safety test, and exactly what tests have been performed. As cute as some handmade items are, if they are not safety tested, we do not recommend giving them to a baby.
The dyes. Every single product that is not a natural base cotton colour has been dyed using some kind of ink. Even if a product is organic, if the inks are not water based or similarly eco-friendly inks, they may contain harmful chemicals. Ask your toy supplier what kind of inks they use. This is particularly important if it is a product your baby will chew. We use baby safe, water based inks (that are also good for the environment).
Packaging: Is your Kippin packaged? This is either on a hanger, or come November 2017, a beautiful gift box. If it does not have packaging, it is a fake.
Look for the 'Eek I'm lost label' to see if you Kippin is genuine.
When you buy a genuine Kippins product, you’re getting a lovingly designed, ethically made, sustainable and organic, safety tested bundle of goodness for your baby. Something that we have worked on over the past three years to make every production better and better! We’ve packaged this up for you at an amazing price point. Your Kippins toys will be loved every day for years and years.
That, my friends, is priceless.
We want your help to spot the fakes. If you find one, send us an email and we’ll send you a 20% off voucher, just for being so Kippiny.
- Heather, Founder and CEO, Kippins Pty Ltd.