While I think dupe culture has always been an issue, social media definitely amplifies the problem.
Growing up, I was always interested in designer things. And by designer, we’re talking Coach, Dooney & Bourke, etc. I was lucky enough to be gifted a lot of these designer goods from my parents. So as I got older, my interest shifted to true designer purchases: Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, etc. Growing up in New York City exposed me to the wonderful world of designer goods…and also the sneaky world of designer knockoffs.
Ever wonder what it’s like walking through Chinatown? Well, I’ll set it up for your imagination: When you walk down Canal St, you’ll come across many handbags laying on the floor with people coming up to you saying, “Chanel, Louis, Prada”. These are the people selling fake designer goods. You might even be taken back to a creepy room in the back of a building to get the “higher end” replicas…that can cost you hundreds of dollars.
Fake designer culture is insane…and there’s a lot to be said about it. The idea of “OMG I FOUND YOU THE BEST DESIGNER DUPE” has become such an obsession in the influencer world. In my mind, it’s becoming more and more of an issue that needs to be addressed.
Legal Dupes vs Fake Designer
I’m not going to lie, I have a few pieces that are straight up designer knockoffs. And by knockoff, I mean a lower end retailer that pretty much took a designer item and “made it their own”. This bag, for example, was a bag I purchased when I desperately wanted a Givenchy Antigona…but was a 23 year old entry level assistant. So I went for the next best thing: A bag in the same silhouette, with no designer label. Another example would be these cap toe slingbacks. I wasn’t 100% sold on the Chanel ones (my ankles always have trouble keeping slingbacks on my feet), so I purchased a dupe. Although I’ve actually gotten a lot of wear out of them (here, here, and here), I still couldn’t justify the Chanel ones because I still think slingbacks are a pain in the ass.
Fake designer goods are when companies are blatantly putting designer names on products…when they are not. I’ve seen an INSANE amount of straight up fake designer goods on Amazon (“Gucci” belts, “Celine” bags, “Hermes” bracelets). The amount of people linking to these “dupes” is crazy — especially since they’re not calling them what they actually are….FAKE.
PS: Technically buying illegal counterfeit items isn’t illegal. But it’s tough to support this type of industry, don’t you think?
PPS: The beauty industry is also experiencing a crazy counterfeit epidemic too (which is scary considering people put these products on their skin).
I work in the fashion industry, so I know how this works. It’s one thing for a designer to review the absolute top tier brands and get inspiration from them. That’s why we have runway shows (well, that’s why we USED to have runway shows…now it’s just more of a spectacle). It’s another thing for a designer/brand to completely rip off a design. I’ve seen a lot of conversations in regards to influencer collaborations lately. And while I’ll never agree with blatant copying, I do need to give some people slack. The fashion industry has ALWAYS been this way. It’s a huge cycle of looking at both trends and what your competitors are doing…and make it into something that fits your brand.
Since everything is mostly accessible online, influencers are really quick to jump on the linking bandwagon. If they know their audience doesn’t really go for the higher ticket items, they’ll find something that looks EXACTLY like it. It becomes a vicious cycle of who can find the best designer dupes for their audience. And while they think they’re doing their audience a favor, they’re just promoting this type of consumer behavior.
False sense of reality
I get it. Being an influencer is tough. It’s a dog eat dog world when it comes to seeing who can afford the most designer things. But did you ever stop and think about this: What if all of these “designer” purchases are fake?
Bet that didn’t cross your mind, huh?
For me, my designer purchases are the result of HARD ASS WORK from both of my jobs. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve had one fake designer bag in my entire life. And nothing felt worse than pretending to be something that you’re not. So I got rid of it. I was embarrassed to carry it around (although it was a GREAT tote) because I knew it wasn’t the real thing. Instead, I pride myself on being able to afford my nice designer things after months of hard work.
Trust me, it feels WAY better than owning a fake bag or jewelry.
Labor and work conditions
Many people don’t know this, but illegal goods usually means terrible work conditions as well as child labor.
My thoughts: If you’re a designer goods junkie, then SAVE. YOUR. MONEY. When I want a designer good, I scour the internet to see if there’s any second hand items (my Saint Laurent was from Fashionphile, and one pair of my Gucci loafers were from Poshmark). Fake designer things just bring down the wonderful world of luxury items…making them less exclusive. I think it’s way more rewarding to own the real thing, even if it takes years to get it.