It's commonly said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...
OR IS IT?
Recently, the issue of counterfeit luxury goods hit home once again, when i came across a website hawking fake balenciaga bags for a ridiculous price of around $20 (see above...you can TELL that its PVC and not luxuriously soft cracked goat leather, but still...some people are none the wiser!) Naturally, being the rabid fan that i am, i decided to talk about this neglected topic again.
Hardly anyone is unaware of this plague of counterfeiting...and the demand exists solely because the real deal costs That Much More. In an almost-poetic twist of irony, it is that very unattainability due to high prices that has caused both the flourishing of the real luxury trade, as well as its sinister black market cousin which preys on that same desire to own such a coveted item.
Street stalls are aplenty in many major cities around the world, especially fashion centres like NYC, where savvy vendors hawk their admittedly-competent-looking goods at prices simply laughable when compared to the multiple that would be the real price tag. In fact, certain streets in New York and Washington DC, for example, are well-known as places a wannabe fashionista can go for a Kate Spade purse that might only cost $20 instead of the hundreds of dollars the genuine article would fetch.
But what's the true distinction between the real deal and a knockoff? Surely that premium pays for more than just advertising and shop space? Fans of fakes swear that there isn't a discernable difference between the 2. Such assertions do not amuse Maison Goyard, the 144-year-old Parisian luggage maker that prides itself on pedigree. “Goyard is fully committed to its brand protection,” said Charlotte Letard, a company spokeswoman. She added that the company is addressing the issue of street vendors through targeted civil seizure orders, and is working closely with Customs to seize counterfeit merchandise.
MAKE SURE IT'S REAL, INDEED:
Now that i've made my case for WHY its Fendi over Fake, here's HOW you make sure you don't get scammed. Here are some tips for spotting fakes:
- LOCATION: These are LUXURY RETAILERS; they have shop space they pay good money for, so if you're haggling on the street while people walk by and taxis honk, it's pretty damn shady.
- PRICE: $$$Price$$$ is a major factor when buying a bag. If the price seems just too good to be true, well that is because it is. It's a flipping fake man! Walk away.
- INSURANCE: Real bags come with tags, warranties, serial numbers, and lots of other details like a pretty box, a dust bag and the GUARANTEE that the store you bought it from, unlike a street stand, will still be there if you need your bag cared for, or cleaned, or replaced. It's like buying insurance.
- MATERIAL/QUALITY: Luxury retailers pride themselves on quality and craftsmanship... many items are individually made and hence are charged with a premium. But at least you can guarantee that it's made of leather, real metal, and fine stitching, instead of poorly-cut canvas and PVC.
- Look out for the small details..cos they make all the difference. For instance, balenciaga lariat bags ALL have an individualised serial number stamped on the inner leather tag. LV bags never have the logo cut off, regardless of the size or shape of the monogrammed bag. All brands take pains with their inner lining of their bags. Loewe, LV and Hermes bags with locks and keys are all fully functional.
- YOUR CONSCIENCE: it's all or nothing when it comes to fashion. Don't make a mockery of the industry by supporting the copycats that make money off of your fleeting desires. the shelf life of these fakes, unlike the genuine article, will be similarly transient.
I must clarify that i'm not being a fashion snob here-- ANY industry built on piracy (Dvds, bags, even medication) will eventually be run to the ground because of inferior quality control and the necessary legal checks in place. There's no guarantee for any of those goods, despite the cheaper price. If you can't afford it/think the price is too much, just support other local/smaller designers who are putting out handstitched, quality goods for a cheaper price but with no less quality. After all, fakes are stil factory goods.