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Admittedly, this post is a by-product of some seething I did over an image that a girl had stolen from me, who then flipped it and put a disastrous filter over it. And as you may have guessed, she proceeded to claim credit for it. So then as I was scrolling through my feed, it occurred to me that a lot of fashion bloggers and Instagrammers out there are promoting or at least showcasing designer dupes. Then I thought, isn’t a dupe of something kind of like taking someone’s work, putting a cheap edit over the top and passing it off as your own? And isn’t wearing and sharing it, showing support for what is essentially theft of intellectual property?
In recent years, the fashion world has decided to stop being so bloody precious with their public law suits and started biting back in a creative way. Think Gucci’s Ghost collection that satirises market stall copies and Louis Vuitton’s official collaboration with Supreme – a brand that had previously appropriated its logo without permission – these are all fuck you statements to the factories and companies out there profiting from the maisons‘ artistry and craftsmanship. Was this change of approach the beginning of knock-offs becoming acceptable in mainstream fashion?
I recognise that there is a difference between an item that is ‘inspired’ by a high fashion collection, i.e. Zara’s offerings but a direct designer knock-off is different. How did this come about?
In the world of beauty, it’s kind of hard to demonise a copycat of let’s say, a matte liquid lipstick for example, because unless the alternative has also gone for near-identical packaging, a lot of makeup is made the same way and in the same factories (and arguably, a lot of designer clothing are manufactured in the same factories).
I believe that it’s the relatively new popularity of beauty videos that celebrate high-quality, cheaper alternatives to expensive beauty products, combined with the much older idea that owning the latest ‘it’ item provides social clout that has given way to influencers and bloggers boasting about their knock-offs in abandon.
Trust me, I want a Chloe bag and I don’t want to pay £1,200 for it. I want the Gucci rose embroidered Princeton slip-ons (I even painted it!) but I’m a little hesitant to part with nearly £800 or however much they are now. I can see that for a cheap thrill, parting with £20 for a fast fashion version in faux leather and erroneous colours could add that little injection of ‘nowness’ to a outfit. And look, ‘m not a purist myself, I have worn a dupe before but not because it was the latest must-have item but because I really liked the design.
However, after a few months of wear, it started to really turn me off. Also, is it even fair that you’ll probably have to have a five-figure monthly pay cheque to even afford the real thing?! So I get why people buy them… But it still doesn’t justify it.I’ve been asking a lot of questions in this post and this is the last semi-rhetorical one before I start to answer them: Since when did we become so preoccupied with looking the best, not our best, that we compromised our values just to appear as if we own the latest goods?
I guess the reason why some of us feel comfortable photographing and featuring our alternative finds is because everyone loves a bargain and everyone wants to look chic. Also, we might think that it doesn’t really hurt the bottom line of a billion dollar fashion company if we go for that fake Gucci just that one time.
Social media seems to make things acceptable by the pure equation that when there’s a consensus things are very quickly normalised, including purchasing and showing off dupes.
In this case, although I do see this particular issue as an ethically grey area and I won’t and I can’t tell you how or where to put your money, I will say that although I’ve been tempted time and time again to consciously purchase an item that is a duplicate of a designer piece, I remind myself that luxury isn’t actually about the material.
It’s about really appreciating the effort and work you’ve put in that you can now afford and enjoy the product. It’s also the experience of owning something that you can look after and possibly even keep for your future kids.
But more than that it’s also about integrity. I can’t help but see that this trend of revelling in cheap knock offs more about loving stuff than loving fashion and vision that goes into the collections. And that there is the problem.