Don’t try to take your Fuccis or Fradas through British customs. The U.K. is using a new technology to detect counterfeit bags, reports Salon. Knockoff designer merchandise is a big problem in the U.K. — the British fashion industry loses about £3.5 billion in sales a year. But while customs officers are allowed to seize counterfeit bags, officials can’t necessarily tell the difference between Burberry plaid and regular old plaid as fake purses get more sophisticated.
Using terahertz radiation — a technology typically employed in astronomy, biomedical imaging, and surveillance — scientists shoot electromagnetic radiation through fabric and read the fabric’s signature based on the way the waves scatter through the fabric. This allows them, and eventually customs officials, to detect the differences between fabrics like real and synthetic silk, or regular wool and the more luxurious merino wool, thereby figuring out if a bag is the real deal. Until then, we’ll just have to look for telltale signs of knockoff bags, like misspelled designer labels or Chanel bags that are ridiculously low-priced.