How many of you follow designer brands?
I’ll raise my hand.
How many of you can’t afford the majority of those designer’s goods?
I’ll raise my hand again.
Now, if you found a product that was very close to its designer counterpart in terms of design or quality for a fraction of the price without the luxury labelling, would you buy it?
I’ll raise my hand again.
Now, if that “dupe,” if you call it, was priced at $50, and the luxury brand was and upwards of $600, would you still buy it if it was labeled as the real luxury brand, even though it wasn’t?
I probably won’t raise my hand, because that means it’s a fake. That’s the difference between a dupe and a fake, in a nutshell.
If you haven’t yet noticed, our millennial generation is kicking ass. Many of us are young, career-oriented, and many of us now have huge margins of disposable income. But as our income rises, our taste rises too. So it’s no wonder why we’re seeing a lot of people with luxury and designer purses, shoes and clothes. Everybody wants what’s trending on Instagram. We want to keep up with the Kardashians.
Unfortunately, with the fast pace of fashion trends, a lot of these expensive pieces go out of season faster than it takes for us to earn that money. That’s why our consumer culture is gravitating towards designer dupes. In recent years, with fast-fashion companies like Forever 21 and Zara becoming affordable fashion sources for middle-income people, consumers are now able to participate in the hottest trends without breaking the bank. I personally am all for this fashion movement, because it’s giving others the chance to be on an even playing field with the upper crust in regards to fashion.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a dupe. What is wrong is lying. So, out with the fake, and enter the dupe.
We wouldn’t all knowingly purchase a fake item, right? I know I can’t. I had one before, and I felt guilty every time I used it. Nothing feels worse than pretending to be something that you aren’t, and praying that nobody notices. Sporting a fake bag or fake shoes is like screaming out to the world, “hey, I’m rich, I paid thousands of dollars for these!” When in reality, you probably spent less than $100, and we can definitely tell that you did.
I won’t get into a huge debate about it, but it’s no argument that the word “dupe” has established a healthy separation from the 3 dirty words of fashion: “fake,” “knockoff”, and “imitation.” Dupes may have a lot of similar design features inspired by its designer counterpart, but in no way has any logo or branding that claims to be an authentic original. Fakes are simply cheap imposters that can sometimes even be sold to gullible consumers for the original designer price. Fakes water down the exclusivity and reputations of designer goods.
While I have some real luxury goods, I’m also very honest and open about the dupes that I have in my closet as well. As a 24-year-old struggling to make ends meet, I wasn’t able to afford one of the authentic Louis Vuitton purses sitting on my shelf – I was lucky enough to receive it as a hand-me-down from a distant relative. The Gucci wallet I scored? That was an authenticated secondhand purchase. Even with some genuine goods, over 80% of my closet still consists of designer dupes.
How come I buy dupes? Well, let’s be real – as much as I love fashion, I simply can’t prioritize purchasing designer goods. Fashion trends go out far too fast for me to find any value in heavily-priced items. The fact that I can’t afford a $20,000 Hermés Birkin bag doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to admire the classic style and clean lines of the purse. My income can’t justify paying $20,000 or more for a purse. If you can afford that, that’s awesome, but I know that it’s definitely not in my budget.
With fashion giants like Forever 21, consumers with budgets similar to mine are now able to afford trendy products for a fraction of the price – legally. With missing logos and some minor differences in design, Chloe replicas and Céline dupes are everywhere, and some consumers may even purchase purses or shoes without even knowing its source of inspiration may have been from a luxury designer. Now many others are seeing the sense in purchasing affordable dupes to create interchangeable wardrobes for far less of a price.
A good example: Retail giant JustFab once had a purse called the Midtown, followed by the Petite Midtown sold at the VIP price of $14.95. Those purses were blatant dupes of Phillip Lim’s Medium Pashli ($895) and Pashli Mini ($695), but did not have any logo or badging of Phillip Lim. I actually bought the Petite Midtown and used it for some time until the purse wore out and had to be laid to rest.
Ironically, some designers are in favor of using the middle-income masses to popularize their designs. Much to everyone’s surprise, Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing was very supportive of Zara and H&M’s ability to create Balmain-inspired pieces and integrate them with other designer-inspired pieces on their storefronts. In an Instyle article, Rousteing mentioned, “I’m really happy that Balmain is copied – when I did my Miami collection and we did the black and white checks, I knew they would be in Zara and H&M. But they did it in a clever way – they mixed a Céline shape with my Balmain print! Well done! I love that.”
Without the luxury market, the fashion industry would have no source of inspiration to pass trends down to middle-income consumers. So there will always be dupes, but the luxury designers will always have a home in the fashion industry as trendsetters.
In the meantime, if you can’t afford the real thing, don’t be fake: get a dupe – you know you want it.
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