Naples city, the hub of counterfeit brands

In the city of Naples, Italy, a surprising industry is thriving: The counterfeit market. This market, generating an estimated 6-7 billion euros ($6.5-7.5 billion) each year, is not just about making quick money, it’s also linked to the mafia. 

Naples has become infamous as the center of Europe’s fake goods, offering everything from knockoff designer bags to sunglasses and shoes. These items are sold openly in markets, often to people looking for a deal on high-end brands. The manufacturing and distribution of these fakes are tightly controlled by the Camorra, Naples’ own mafia.


At the heart of Naples, sellers openly question customers about their preferred fake brand, color, or model, displaying their illegal wares that mimic expensive names like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. This phenomenon isn’t limited to Italy of course.

Globally counterfeits make up 2.5 percent of world trade. However, Italy leads Europe in confiscating these goods, seizing 63 percent of them in 2022.

Police efforts to combat this issue are increasing, with a lot of seizures showing the scale of the operations. From 2018 to 2022, nearly 100 million items worth over 470 million euros were seized in Naples alone. This illegal trade not only hurts the economy through lost sales, jobs, and taxes but also harms the environment, with toxic fires due to counterfeit waste.


Collaboration between the Camorra and Chinese criminal groups has only worsened the problem, with most fake goods entering Italy through less monitored EU ports. Once in Campania, final touches are added in workshops utilizing cheap, illegal labor.

The impact on legitimate businesses is devastating, as thousands of small fashion companies in Campania are facing unfair competition. Counterfeiting is described as a “cancer” in the market, with major brands spending millions on anti-counterfeiting efforts.

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