I really want a Mulberry bag. Like really, really, really want one. Sadly, like many other teenagers out there, my (Primark) purse isn’t bulging with paper and plastic enough for me to be able to afford one just yet... So while thinking about my shopping list for my trip to New York City this summer, I thought, why not just head down to Canal Street in Chinatown and pick myself a knock-off brand bag for cheap? It would save me A LOT of money (after all, I am a student!) and I just wouldn’t tell anyone it was fake! Nevertheless, I had this persistent feeling of guilt contemplating the idea, so I needed to think a little more about this controversial topic... I mean I know they’re illegal, but are knock-off designer goods really that bad?
I won’t pay £2000 for something I can get for £20.
Designer brand prices are often ludicrously expensive, and the average fashion conscious young person of today wouldn’t dream of paying thousands of pounds for one item, especially in this economic climate! Buying on the black market is a rebellion against the high prices of the self-proclaimed elite – maybe someday they’ll get the hint and lower the prices of the authentic brand products?
Me buying a handbag in a street in London or New York is not causing physical pain to anyone, right? Anyway, the fashion designers are the baddies here, not me – their expensive prices purposely exclude normal young people and those who live anywhere but the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. And that’s just not fair!
However, there’s more to it than that...
Where do these knock-off products come from?
Most likely, they were made in sweat-shops in developing countries by poorly paid workers in dangerous working conditions. Such organisations are typically associated with criminal activity such as tax evasion, theft, human trafficking, exploitation and child labour. An estimated 7% of annual world trade, that is $600million each year, is counterfeit and therefore goes unregulated.
Fake designer goods are poorly made and will break easily.
The argument is most widely used by fashion houses, such as in this message from Chanel against replica goods. Many replica bags are very convincing, but if cheap fake goods are anything like those toys we bought from the pound shop as kids that only lasted about 10 minutes, I’d be wary. Which leads onto the question: how cheaply are these fakes made? Is £30 such a good deal for a bag made of plastic and thin fabric?
I’m thinking Burberry: the Chav uniform of 2002. Resulted in a shocking 40% decline in legitimate sales!
And what about the designer in all of this?
You couldn’t take a Harry Potter manuscript, republish it under your name and take all the profits could you? So why is the same at of theft happening in the fashion design world? As an aspiring costume designer, I had to empathise with designers on this point. How would I feel to have my design endlessly cheapened and copied? Hmm... not so fun...
As you can probably guess, I never went to New York’s Chinatown to get my fake handbag. I realised the problem I personally faced with buying fakes was this: no matter how many times somebody else would look at my bag with a little jealousy, I would never be able to convince myself that it was the real thing – and that’s the most important idea I think. Fashion, and the way we dress, is supposed to make us feel good, special and confident, not cheap or second rate! So instead, I think I’ll wait. One day (although I know it might be a more than just a few years down the line) I will get myself a Mulberry bag, and this one will be something I worked hard to save up for, something I deserve and will truly appreciate, for years and years to come.
So what do you think of fake designer goods? Have you ever bought any? Was it worth it? I’d love to hear your views on this subject, so please comment below!