This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through any of these links, I may make a small commission. Click here for my full disclosure statement.
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 labeling, would you buy it?
I’ll raise my hand again.
Now, if that particular bag 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 designer-inspired item and a fake, in a nutshell.
RELATED POST – THE LOOK FOR LESS: 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-inspired items. 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 something that’s stylistically similar to the real deal. What is wrong is lying. So, out with the fake, and enter the designer-inspired item.
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 “designer-inspired” has established a healthy separation from the 3 dirty words of fashion: “fake,” “knockoff”, and “imitation.” Designer-inspired pieces may have a lot of similar design features that resemble 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 designer-inspired items 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, a big portion of my closet still consists of designer-inspired stuff.
Some of My Favorite Designer-Inspired Items:
- The Look For Less: Balenciaga Ceinture Ankle Boot – $1,275 vs. $100
- The Look For Less: Aminah Abdul Jillil Bow Pump – $285 vs. $16
- The Look For Less : Gucci Dionysus Mini – $1,700 vs. $85
- The Look For Less: Chanel Colorblock Heel – $800 vs. $84.99
- The Look For Less: 3.1 Phillip Lim Medium Pashli – $895 vs. $75
How come I buy designer-inspired stuff? 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.
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-inspired items 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 yet similar pieces 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 had strikingly similar resemblances to 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.”
More of My Favorite Designer-Inspired Items:
- The Look For Less: Valentino Rockstud Kitten Heel – $995 vs. $115
- Designer-Inspired by Ainifeel: Valentino Rockstud Spike Quilted Top-Handle Bag – $2,795 vs. $109
- The Look For Less: Valentino Rockstuds – $995 vs. $115
- Designer-Inspired Handbags Under $80
- Designer-Inspired by Ainifeel: Hermés Kelly Bag – $8,500 vs. $105
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 designer-inspired items, 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, just get something similar – you know you want it.
Liked this post? Subscribe to my newsletter below to receive new posts in your email!