The good old interweb has worked wonders for making the world a

smaller place, unfortunately, it's also made it easier for the

fast-buck merchants to pass off counterfeit goods as the genuine

article, particularly on e-Bay.

One of the companies worst affected by the problem is US brand The

North Face. The problem has got so bad that the brand now employs a

specialist team to investigate counterfeited TNF products throughout

the world and, where appropriate, TNF cooperates with trading

standards authorities and in some cases, the police.

TNF UK's Keith Byrne's advice to anyone who wants to be sure that

they're buying genuine TNF goods is to purchase only from an

authorised stockist either online or at a store. "If you buy from an

unauthorised third party," he says. "Then you are always going to

leave open the option that you may be being offered a counterfeit

product. If anyone is ever in doubt then they can always call our

office in Kendal to check on authorised stockists."

Some eBay purcahsers, we assume, hope that what they're buying may

be genuine TNF kit, somehow syphoned off from production facilities

in the Far East, however this is almost never the case and one of the

problems with buying online is that you can't examine the goods until

you've handed over your money.


Doers this look real to

you? This jacket simply

doesn't exist as an authentic TNF product. See


So how do you ensure that you don't buy counterfeit TNF? The first

and most obvious consideration is that if it seems too good to be

true, then it probably is. Bear in mind that there are factories out

there churning out swing tags and badges which look authentic enough,

particularly in photos.


That inside label says

'waterproof and breathable'

under the logo. Genuine TNF doesn't do that.

The most obvious pointer, says Byrne, is that most counterfeit

jackets have a label inside claiming that the jacket is 'Waterproof

and Breathable'. Genuine TNF jackets use the swing tags to do that

for them and simply have a straightforward TNF logo inside the

jacket. It took us just a couple of minutes on eBay to find a

'genuine' TNF Gore-Tex jacket with just such a label visible in the


There are plenty of other pointer, what, for example, do you make

of colour schemes and designs that don't officially exist? If you

need any more pointers, then check out The

North Face Guru web site, set up by a ripped off American

consumer and containing some useful pointers and comparison shots of

fake and real TNF gear. And of course, there's no guarantee that the

jacket in the photos, is the one which will be supplied.

Unfortunately it's not always easy to tell from an online photo,

so our advice is simple and straightforward - if it seems too good to

be true, then it probably is. Leave well alone.