The Difference Between Legal Dupes and Fake Designer Goods

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Gucci's Dionysus is a whopping $1,350, but I found a genuine Italian leather dupe for it for only $86. - www.theballeronabudget.com

Gucci’s Dionysus is a whopping $1,350, but I found a genuine Italian leather dupe for it for only $86.

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.

RELATED POST – DESIGNER DUPE: CHLOÉ DREW – $1,650 VS. $39.90

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.

Another great genuine leather and suede dupe: This $68.50 bag is a spot-on dupe for Chloe's $1,950 Faye. - www.theballeronabudget.com

Another great genuine leather and suede dupe: This $68.50 bag is a spot-on dupe for Chloe’s $1,950 Faye.

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 it is actually not illegal to purchase a counterfeit item for personal use, distributing and selling them is illegal and punishable by law. So although you’re on the “right” side of the law, you may very well be supporting an illegal business that’s been known to support terrorism and child trafficking.

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.

Some of My Favorite 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 handbag. 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.

Let's be real: Who besides anybody in the upper crust world could ever the Hermés Birkin, especially when prices start at $14,500 for a used one? I got a genuine leather dupe of the iconic luxury label bag for only $67.07, and all it's missing is the Hermés logo. I'll take it. - www.theballeronabudget.com

Let’s be real: Who besides anybody in the upper crust world could ever afford the Hermés Birkin, especially when prices start at $14,500 for a used one? I got a genuine leather dupe of the iconic luxury label bag for only $67.07, and all it’s missing is the Hermés logo. I’ll take it.

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. With missing logos and some minor differences in design, Chloe 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.

RELATED POST – DESIGNER DUPE: 3.1 PHILLIP LIM PASHLI MINI: $695 TO $51.99

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.”

More of My Favorite Designer Dupes:

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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What’s the difference a “dupe” and a fake designer item? The biggest determining factor is the legality of the item in regards to copyright infringement. Unlike a counterfeit item, dupes are completely legal to purchase. Click here to read more about the dupe vs. counterfeit debate. - www.theballeronabudget.com
What’s the difference a “dupe” and a fake designer item? The biggest determining factor is the legality of the item in regards to copyright infringement. Unlike a counterfeit item, dupes are completely legal to purchase. Click here to read more about the dupe vs. counterfeit debate. - www.theballeronabudget.com
What’s the difference a “dupe” and a fake designer item? The biggest determining factor is the legality of the item in regards to copyright infringement. Unlike a counterfeit item, dupes are completely legal to purchase. Click here to read more about the dupe vs. counterfeit debate. - www.theballeronabudget.com

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8 Comments

  1. April 19, 2017 / 9:49 am

    I agree 100% I would rather buy a dupe than be caught with a fake. I feel like nothing is more tacky than a fake bag

    • The Baller on a Budget
      Author
      April 19, 2017 / 2:36 pm

      I agree! I’ve had my share of fakes from vacations to the Phillippines (the Asian motherlands have a lot of fakes out there) and never felt honest enough to tout them around in places like Los Angeles. The upper crust can spot it from a mile away. Haha!

  2. September 26, 2017 / 9:57 am

    There’s certainly a lot to learn about this issue. I like all the points you have made.

  3. January 2, 2018 / 10:53 pm

    I love a good dupe. I have the Gorgeous boots from Steve Madden, a great dupe to the SW Highland boots. I also have dupes from designer dresses I like , or let’s say “Inspired ” versions. I leave fakes alone- not necessary to go that far lol.
    http://www.dafrastar.com

    • The Baller on a Budget
      Author
      January 5, 2018 / 3:23 pm

      I definitely agree!

  4. December 21, 2018 / 8:43 pm

    To respectfully put another perspective in play: while I believe that dupes are more of a grey area (rather than fakes, which are blatantly illegal), the dupes you describe only differ from fakes with a label. The designs (hardware, leather, color, etc) are all direct copies. Have you heard of Burberry suing Target over its check patterns? I’m all for finding cheap alternatives as a poor student haha, but I don’t see why dupes should be put on a pedestal over fakes (I have some of both). Just my 2 cents – but I don’t mean to offend, I enjoyed reading your blog!

    • The Baller on a Budget
      Author
      December 27, 2018 / 4:44 pm

      Hey there! I get what you’re trying to say, but to piggyback on your example of Burberry suing Target over the use of their check pattern: the check pattern is actually a registered trademark, thus Burberry had a right to sue. This is the same with the iconic red sole of Christian Louboutin, and why you will never see any company try to “dupe” their red sole. Registered trademarks are a territory in which brands dare not cross should they wish a lawsuit upon themselves.

      I don’t believe that any design is truly “original” – even designer brands piggyback off each other’s design elements (for example, JW Anderson’s Pierce bag resembles a lot of design elements from Hermés’s vintage Torque Fastening Bag). I think this could be why there are a lot of complexities regarding what’s considered a dupe or a fake, and why I dove so deep into this post to explain such differences.

      Going beyond handbags, common fashion trends even in shoes and clothing are commonly duped by fast fashion brands all the time – we just don’t focus on it as much because most women tend to invest on leather goods vs. clothes. Leather goods are more expensive and are more seen as an investment whereas clothes are a necessity. But when it boils down to it, trends are mimicked across all types of fashion items – it’s all about the hierarchy of fashion and how trends “trickle down” from designers and are eventually made attainable to the middle income class through fast fashion brands. Trends will always start at the top and die as it gets down to the bottom. Chelsea boots, riding boots, slouch boots as well as nylon webbing belts, paperbag pants and cat eye sunglasses all had their designer origin somewhere before they were popularized by fast fashion brands. Their designer origins just might not be known because of the oversaturation in the fast fashion market – these items are a lot cheaper to produce, so they went out to the masses much more quickly.

      Hope I’m making sense – I feel like I’m rambling at this point. But I hope that addresses your perspective! 🙂

  5. Shirl
    July 31, 2019 / 1:08 pm

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I was considering buying a pair of KP Noir caged kitten heels and now I know I will.

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