Zhang Xiaoya, 28, drives her BMW from Haidian district, Beijing, to a gated community near the East Third Ring Road once a month to buy several purses and handbags. All these products, piled up inside a 60-square-meter apartment, are apparently from world famous brands. xanthe1's blog, Hermes purses, Burberry scarves and Gucci belts are lined up on the steel shelves - but they're all fake. "One fake handbag usually costs me around 1, 000 yuan ($157), which means that I can use the money it would cost to buy one genuine handbag to buy dozens of these, with different styles, " Zhang, a hot-pot restaurant owner, told the Global Times, noting that the majority of her handbags are fake .Mulberry Alexa. "Of course, I could afford to buy genuine ones. But I like to use brand new luxury handbags, and given the high prices of luxury products in China, buying fake ones is an appropriate option for me, " said Zhang, noting that she does not feel any regret in throwing her old fake handbags away. "A huge market for fake luxury products has already formed in China, with a complete industry chain from production to sales, " Zhou Ting, a luxury industry expert and director at the Fortune Character Institute, told the Global Times, noting that the situation is unlikely to change any time soon. Fake luxury market The world's top brands are putting more and more efforts into joining China's booming luxury market, opening new stores here every year and holding fashion shows featuring Chinese stars. However, they are also seeing intensifying competition, not from other brands but from counterfeiters. Mulberry Sale.Patrick Thomas, CEO of Hermes, told the French media in June that 80 percent of Hermes-branded goods sold on the internet are fake. He said the situation was "a disgrace. " French police disclosed last month that they had broken up a "sophisticated counterfeit Hermes handbag syndicate, " and that 12 suspects had been arrested in Paris and Lyon. According to a statement from Hermes, some of the counterfeit fashion and stylish mulberry bags were about to be sold in China, one of its largest markets. "The official prices for luxury goods in the mainland are much higher than they are in other countries and regions, and consumers feel that's unfair, " said Zhou, noting that this is one reason why people would choose to buy fakes. "But of course, for many people, buying lower-priced luxuries is simply because they cannot afford the genuine ones, " she said. Meanwhile, the strong demand for luxuries and fast development of the market in the world's second largest economy also provide business opportunities for counterfeit producers, Zhou noted. According to statistics from Bain & Company, a Boston-based business consulting firm, annual sales in the luxury market in the Chinese mainland soared from 7. 1 billion euros ($8. 88 billion) in 2009 to 12. 9 billion euros in 2011. **15** China still lags behind the us, the world's biggest luxury market, which saw its 2011 sales hit 48 billion euros. However, if the consumption of individuals from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan is included, total sales in the Chinese market last year would have been 23. 5 billion euros, not counting the 15 billion euros spent annually on luxury goods by Chinese customers abroad. **15** Despite the booming market in China, Zhou said, "the authorities' regulation and supervision of luxury goods is not effective, which is another reason why counterfeit manufacturers are eager to seize the money-making opportunity. " **15** Big loopholes "Our goods are made by luxury brands' contract manufacturers who have some extra products in storage, " a saleswoman of online retailer nahuo9.com, told the Global Times on condition of anonymity. However, the prices of Hermes handbags on the website usually range from 2, 000 yuan to 4, 000 yuan, much cheaper than those sold in most outlets in the mainland. **15** The saleswoman said the online retailer could provide Hong Kong receipts for the products, to prove that they are genuine. An insider familiar with the counterfeit industry told the Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald newspaper last month that the reason why online luxury retailers usually offer Hong Kong receipts is that, due to privacy protection, the Hong Kong authorities do not allow people to use their receipts to check for detailed information on the products they have bought. As a result, the Hong Kong receipts are no guarantee of authenticity, according to the insider. "The luxury brands themselves will not check the authenticity of products for consumers, which creates another loophole, " said Zhou, noting that since the country does not have a mature market system to punish counterfeiters, luxury brands themselves need to improve their services to protect consumers' interests. In June 2011, dangdang.com, a New York-listed Chinese online retailer, started a 25-percent-off promotion for Tissot watches, as part of its Father's Day offers. However, the Swiss watchmaker Tissot claimed that it had never authorized any online platform to sell its watches and it would not provide global warranty services for Dangdang customers. "Luxury brands do not usually have any connection with other sales channels, " said Zhou, noting that such an attitude is like "indulging the counterfeits that exist in the market. " "We are only responsible for products sold from our outlets, " Helen Lu, a member of the public relations staff at Hermes China, told the Global Times. As for other sales channels like the Internet, Lu refused to give any comment. But she said the company "will not provide any services" to consumers who do not buy Hermes goods from the official outlets. Zhou said ignorance of other sales channels will hurt the brand in the end . "When you see every woman on the bus is holding a Louis Vuitton clear bags, will you buy the brand any more? " asked Zhou.