Dressed Up in Stolen Feathers

Dolce&Gabbana, Cavalli, Gucci… you find the brands in fancy malls, but also in Macedonian garages. Inspectors from Macedonian customs entered there, disguised as buyers, and went out with the arrested owners of the improvised shops.

Smugglers manage to get in the pieces of Trussardi, Dior and Armani and other well known brands. Most often they bring them from Serbia or Greece. But the items are not bought from designers’ factories or warehouses – purchasers buy from thieves. So the jet setters and politicians decorate themselves with stolen brands.

Macedonia is often a transit country for such smuggling. The customs and the inspectors that protect industrial property think that the chain of hawkers is well-organized.

In Macedonia Madam Pepi was the synonym of a shop for black market branded clothes. For more than a decade she dressed Macedonian lawyers, members of Parliament, people from the show business, but also journalists. Everyone knew that they were buying illegally, but they didn’t say it. It was more important for them to show themselves than to say it. Now, in prison, Pepi most often wears sports clothes. We don’t know whether they are branded as she turned down our request for an interview. She has been sentenced to four years in prison as she also brought cocaine for her customers from the jet set with the fur coats and the dresses.

Branded goods “Full Fullova” – is only one of those internet boutiques which on Facebook call customers to buy Burberry and Cavalli shoes for 15 or 35 Euros, Louis Vuitton for the same amount – true to the original. Serbia is the neighbour where the well manufactured copies come from and Greece is the neighbor where quotas come from. They start from China, go to Turkey and then by ship through the Thessaloniki port to the Union and then in trucks they travel to Belgium via Macedonia as a transit.

Reporters Snezana Lupevska, Maja Jovanovska and Emilija Jovanovska folowed the trail. Their stories were published on Macedonian tv, Channel 5, on May 8, 2011.

See the original broadcast

Read the English translation