Should You Fake It Till You Make It?

Written By: Taryn Watt

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so why isn’t it ok to ‘fake it ‘till you make it’? Unfortunately there is a little more to that question than whether or not you personally think it’s right to skip ahead in life and buy your monogrammed Louis Vuitton tote for $150 instead of $1500 like the rest of us. The counterfeit luxury goods trade is growing at an inconceivable rate and even with the best efforts of designers, customs officials and online retailers, where there is demand; there will be those finding ways to supply it – and quickly. The reach of the issue also extends far further than just that of the major fashion houses. Those engaged in the illegal manufacturing and trade of counterfeit luxury goods are often also guilty of far more serious crimes like employing people under unethical and illegal work conditions, theft, fraud and federal importation crimes. When you start to think of where these ‘luxurious’ fakes come from; they don’t seem as elegant anymore, do they?

An oversized Chanel, very lust-worthy indeed (via BWA’s Pinterest)

There is no question it’s tempting, getting the bag you’ve been dying for at a fraction of the cost, but just as Carrie Bradshaw says in that iconic episode of Sex and the City where she travels to LA and is offered fake designer bags for a steal: “I should have liked them. But staring into the trunk, they didn’t look elegant. They looked cheap. Even if everyone else thought it was real, I’d always know my bag came from a trunk deep in the valley”.

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Debbie Maggs, an accountant with a penchant for high end labels, agrees with the fictitious Ms Bradshaw and describes the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with owning an authentic designer bag that can never be replicated by owning a counterfeit.

“It takes a lot to be able to afford an expensive designer bag so it’s frustrating seeing people just walking around in a tracksuit with a fake one over their arm, it takes away from what it is to own a real one, if it looks like just anyone can have it.” For Debbie, the prevalence of fakes in some brands is so high that it diminishes the reputation of the brand.

“There are just so many fake Louis Vuitton bags out there, especially the monogrammed ones, that I would never buy it. I don’t want to spend all that money on a bag just for people to think it’s fake. I’d rather go for Givenchy, then people will know it’s the real thing.”

LV Speedy (via BWA’s Pinterest)

So what do you do if you still want a high quality designer bag but don’t want to fork out for the $2000 price tag? Isabella Hunting, blogger for Fashion Slave, prefers to invest in less expensive but still high quality Australian designers while she can’t afford top of the line brands. “I buy Mimco and Oroton because I currently can’t afford labels such as Chanel, even though I lust over them every day! Mimco and Oroton are still considered designer to me as they encompass high quality design and materials and they are also Australian so I enjoy supporting high quality Australian labels. I would never buy a fake designer bag because I feel like if you support buying fake designer bags you are disrespecting the designers for the work they have put in to create the original design,” she says.

Even within the counterfeit luxury goods trade, there are fakes, and then there are the really good fakes. Some so good it takes an expertly trained eye to tell the difference and often have a price tag upwards of $500. Creative director of Willow and Zac, sellers of luxury leather goods, Jo Wilson says that while some bags obviously look fake, others can look so real that they deceive people out of good money. “There’s knock offs and then there’s knock offs. You just need to take a look around Paddy’s Markets to see the really cheap PU bags that no one in their right mind would believe were real but then there are some that come from China that look so real and are being sold for huge amounts of money,” she says.

Mimco Orbital Hardcase (via www.mimco.com.au)

The difference between the really good fakes and the real thing is often in the tanning and finishing treatments to the leather and can be an easy giveaway as to where it really came from. “The knock off bags won’t have been tanned properly and after a little while the colour on the leather will start to peel away, especially around the handles. That’s a big give away of a knock off because that won’t happen on a real bag. When it hasn’t been tanned properly the colour just sits on top of the leather and that’s why it peels off,” she says.  Mrs Wilson imports bags in from China for her business and says that customs officials have become very strict with checking all handbags that come into the country from China. “They are good, everything gets checked but it’s defiantly not stopping them, they’re everywhere still.”

While the fake bags themselves often cost little more than a song, thus tempting us oh so much, the impact the counterfeit luxury goods trade has on the industry is massive. Not only does the very fact of fakes harm the brands image such as in the case of Louis Vuitton but it also equates to billions in lost revenue. A report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put the value of counterfeit goods that crossed international borders at over USD 250 billion in 2007. The report goes on to say that internationally, the counterfeit goods trade is estimated to have caused economic loss to legitimate companies in the range of USD 500 to 700 billion annually. Don’t let these facts leave your mind when pondering over a fake bag purchase and if that isn’t enough to stop you remember the advice of Aldo Gucci, “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory.”

Specimens available from Reebonz, Sydney (via fashionaddiction.net)

Not only is it seriously un-chic to be carrying around a fake handbag or wearing counterfeit jewellery, it’s clear that by taking the easy way out and buying these products you’re allowing these organised criminals to make a living off the merits of real designers. It’s an industry that is growing at a rapid pace and even with the best efforts of designers, police and customs officials, it really boils down to a case of supply and demand. If we stop the demand, the supply will have no choice but to fade away.  I’m not sure what wise person once said these following words but I think they’ve hit the nail on the head: “It’s better to save your money and get what you really want than accept a bunch of cheap imitations that will ultimately fall apart (the same principle applies to relationships).”

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What’s your take on counterfeiting? Would you? Have you? Let us know your views in the comments below and earn BWA Dollars to spend on rewards!

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15 Comments

  • Fashionista8P
    Reply Fashionista8P Tuesday 19th May, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I just want a handbag that I love not a label that I love

    • Reply Samantha Friday 20th October, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Yes, but more of us need to look at the story of our clothes, and accessories. Who made it, were they fairly paid, what materials were used, was it designed with care, does the label produce huge amounts of fast fashion every year, therefore damaging the environment? All these are questions we should be asking. I know people dismiss caring about labels, but we need to (for example, everything Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Jacobs touch turns to gold, but then after Tom Ford left Gucci I didn’t care so much for it… then Alessandro Michelle came along! Love). I tried doing cheap non leather bags… I would wind up having to replace them after a few months. I didn’t actually end up saving that much money, plus it was bad for the environment.

      You do not have to spend a fortune either, you just have to be resourceful. I found a vintage Gucci handbag, a Kempton Michael Kors handbag, an Oroton tote, among other things, for a collective total of $110 through op shopping. Or if you want a brand new bag on a budget, there are some amazing mid range brands.

      There is always a way, we just need to start caring about the story of our clothes. 🙂

  • Reply Whatthe Tuesday 9th September, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Not a fan of the top one.

  • Reply amanda6393 Tuesday 9th September, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Personally, I couldn’t give a crap whether my handbag is designer or not. It’s only something to carry my crap around in.

  • Reply Crystal Tuesday 9th September, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Definitely pay for what you can afford, quality and genuinely beats fake designer

  • Reply KayLei8 Monday 8th September, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I would love to own a luxury bag but cant afford the price tag.
    Like other comments below I would not consider buying a fake one.

  • Reply MissClare82 Monday 8th September, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I totally agree. I would much rather go instore to buy a real designer handbag, because it’s not just the bag but the experience you get from buying the bag in Chanel or Louis Vuitton. I will continue dreaming of that day…..

  • Reply Whatthe Sunday 7th September, 2014 at 10:43 am

    What a pretty Mimco hardcase.

  • sommy7
    Reply sommy7 Saturday 6th September, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    I am not real keen on these bags anyhow:)

  • Reply Whatthe Friday 5th September, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    No need to be fake – just be real

  • Reply lovelyloves Friday 5th September, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I would rather use the money towards my family home, a new car and a wonderful wedding.

  • Reply yslyenom Thursday 4th September, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    I like looking at all those luxury bags but have no strong interest of owning one even a fake one.

  • Reply godsaur Thursday 4th September, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    <3

  • Reply Sammi Jaeger Thursday 4th September, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I am an owner of a number of genuine Louis Vuitton monogrammed leather goods and I do feel like the number of fakes out there does dilute the brand (especially when you see really bad ones). I do feel offended when people assume that my handbag is not genuine because there are so many that aren’t! I like to look at it this way – landing on top of the mountain is not the same as climbing it and carrying a fake is exactly that “landing on top of the mountain”

  • Reply maggielyly Thursday 4th September, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with this article! Would love a Chanel bag but wouldn’t support buying a fake one.

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