What’s in a selvedge? (How to spot the fakes on etsy)
As a collector of Japanese and rare fabrics, I am disturbed by the amount of counterfeit “Japanese” prints that are currently available on etsy. I am not a shop of any kind- just a fabric lover who wants to share information. To help you avoid making the same mistakes I have made. I am also NOT an expert. I'm just a mum who has bought heaps of fabric and has been disappointed when some of it arrived!
I have been fooled by some of these fakes on etsy. To the inexperienced eye they can be very hard to spot, although I think I have become pretty good at it these days. As they say, once bitten twice shy :D
Kokka Japanese prints seem to be popular prints to copy at the moment and the fakes are getting harder to spot. There are other Japanese brands being copied as well (D’s Selection, Project by Cotton, Shinzi Katoh). Cosmo fakes (at this point in time) don’t seem to be as common.
So what’s the problem with buying a fake?
The quality of fabric is not even close to being the same. Usually the basecloth is seriously inferior. It can be chunky and easy to fray, or the linens can be thin and cheap looking. The quality of the printing is nowhere near the same. Details from the print are usually missing or changed and after a few washes you really start to notice the difference. Some of the basecloths are prone to pilling, while some of the printing is so dodgy it will just wash off in sections. To put it bluntly, you are paying far more than these fabrics are worth, because you think you are buying something you are not.
So how do you spot the fakes?
If you have already bought the fabric- go the selvedge. If it’s a genuine Kokka print it’ll tell you on the selvedge. If it’s a fake, there may be nothing on the selvedge or some other company name- as seen in the photo. The selvedge is usually the key (but not always-see below)***. Check the print against those from a reputable seller to see if the details match up. Look for the small imperfections, the eyes that are slightly misaligned, noses that are missing, straight lines vs wavy lines, the direction the print runs against the selvedge. These differences can be tiny, almost impossible to spot in the pictures, but usually become more obvious in real life!
If you haven’t yet bought the print- check the price. Is it way cheaper than from a reputable Japanese dealer? If so, that’s often the first giveaway. What is the location of the dealer? If they are in Asia but not in Japan be very wary. If they don’t state their location also be very wary. A lot of these fakes are coming out of Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, China and Taiwan.
How to avoid the fakes?
If you want the genuine article, buy from a reputable dealer, a dealer you trust. It may cost more, but then you can be sure you are getting what you pay for! If you're not sure of one, ask someone who's mad keen on Japanese fabrics and they'll probably tell you who to buy from! On the flip side, if you want to buy fakes of course go right ahead. That is completely up to you. Everyone has a budget, and I'm not judging anyone here :D! I just wanted to help those buying the fabrics to know what it is they are buying, before they hand their money over. To help avoid potential disappointment. I hope this helps those of you out there who may be new at buying Japanese fabrics!
***There are some Japanese prints that are genuine but don’t have info on the selvedge, which makes things a little trickier. Again check the details of the print, the devil’s in the details!
*Edited to say- I haven't written this to make anybody feel bad about their purchases, just to help you know if what you have bought (or about to buy) is the real deal or not. To help give some power back to us consumers! If you have bought a fake, by all means use it! (although I've washed tested all of mine first) I certainly have used a lot of the fakes I have bought, usually in things my son is going get really grubby, so if it pills or the print starts to come off it's not going to bother me so much :D