August 9, 2017

Why You Should Avoid Counterfeits And Knock-Offs

Image via Flickr under Creative Commons license

The fashion industry is known for selling products with insanely high price tags such as those of the Hermes variety which are typically sold for at least five digits in US dollars. Luckily, most ready-to-wear products made by luxury brands are not twenty thousand dollars each, but they can still be quite expensive. Two thousand dollars for a purse? Two thousand dollars for a dress? A thousand for some shoes? It's no wonder the counterfeit market is worth so much these days. Why pay a thousand when you could pay forty?

I'll tell you why you should pay a thousand instead of forty.

If you view fashion designers as artists, you should know that (most) artists do not appreciate plagiarism. Yes, designers can be "inspired" by existing designs which is how trends move to fast fashion stores in the fashion industry. However, there is a difference between inspired pieces versus a complete counterfeit or knock-off.

To be specific, counterfeit refers to items that try to pass as a product of a brand name and have probably been made to look very similar to an original from the brand (so counterfeit will have logos to attempt to look like the original). Knock-off just means an item that is very similar in design, but they were not made in order to pass as the original brand. Because it is very difficult to gain copyright protection for fashion designs, many fashion companies create knock-offs without any repercussions. For instance, Forever 21 has been (and still is) selling knock-offs of the Miu Miu Lace-Up Ballerina Flats in the nude and denim version (they look very similar to the ones below. I didn't post a picture because I don't think Forever 21 would appreciate me bad-mouthing their brand, haha), but they haven't gotten into any legal trouble. Perhaps it's because Miuccia Prada doesn't care, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you should buy them.
When it comes to counterfeit products (meaning something with logos), you should avoid buying them at all costs because they bear the name of the brand they are trying to imitate. For one thing, it's kind of embarrassing. It appears as if you care more about flexing (meaning "to show off") than you do about the brand or the design itself because why did you have to go out of your way to buy something that has a fake logo? Also, the original company would definitely not allow for the use of their logos on products they didn't make because no one wants to put their name on something that is beneath their standards. It would be like having your name typed-out on a poorly written essay that someone else wrote, but you know you could write way better than that. Companies also pay a lot of money in order to protect their goods when fighting the counterfeit industry which is supported by those who buy those goods in the first place. Plus, would you want the headache of having to explain that your Louis Vuitton is fake every time someone asks?

As for knock-offs, there is kind of a very blurred grey line between a knock-off versus an "inspired piece." Trends are a natural occurrence in the fashion industry. The passing around of ideas between the high fashion/name brand industry and the fast fashion industry is something that will always exist. Plus, nothing is ever truly original, right? Everything is always a remix of something else. This is why the grey line exists because a lot of times, the decision as to whether or not an item is a knock-off is made intuitively. However, if you feel that a design was definitely stolen (such as the Forever 21 knock-offs, it's so obvious), you should avoid them also, even if they are technically legal. "Why? it's just clothes!" One of the many misconceptions that people have about fashion is that it's "just clothes," and they do not view it as art. I would definitely argue that fashion design is a form of art because it takes a lot of creativity and artistic skills in order to create a distinct garment (so... no I would not consider a plain white t-shirt as "art," but I would consider the J.W.Anderson Cylinder Heel Ballet Shoes as art). If you believe that artists deserve credit for the work they create, then this should extend to fashion designers as well.

No, I don't demonize people who buy counterfeits or knock-offs as I have been tempted to buy them myself, and I am definitely not telling you that you should throw away all of your fakes (after all, the earth is way more important than material objects). However, I hope I convinced some of you to stay away from counterfeits and knock-offs. There are so many other wonderful products out there in the world that are much more affordable; it just takes some effort to find such goods. xx

Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming that designer/luxury brands are more ethical or sustainable than fast fashion brands (this is actually really important to acknowledge for reasons I will discuss further in the future)!

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