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The Big Question: Fake It ’til You Make It? | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Big Question: Fake It ’til You Make It?

I never really thought this needed to be said, but don’t buy luxury goods in a town most notably associated with the words “donkey” and “show.”

Today we discuss a topic near and dear to the empty void where my heart would be: knock offs.  I’m not just talking about the vomworthy Louis Vuitton bucket bags that seemingly come free with every square-tipped French manicure or the “genuine” Coach bag my father bought his child bride while they were in Tijuana (see opening sentence) but the “designer inspired” stuff by Nine West and Oh Deer!. There are a million imitations of the Marc Jacobs “mouse flat” but anyone taking a look at Marc’s recent shoe collections sees a LOT of Miuccia Prada.

Francesca and Plumcake want to know:

 Where do you draw the line on knock offs? Are direct copies, logos ad all, okay because designers charge so much? Would you buy red-soled Oh Deers! because they give the impression that they’re really Louboutins? Should designers be able to copyright their work to prevent cheaper imitations? What’s a copy and what’s merely latching on to a trend that someone else started? We’re looking for honest answers here, so feel free to post anonymously.

27 Responses to “The Big Question: Fake It ’til You Make It?”

  1. Wendy June 5, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    I’ve never knowingly bought a knockoff. I did buy a purse (from a discount shoe store) that turned out to be an imitation of a Dooney & Bourke bag, but I didn’t know that when I bought it.

    I buy what I buy because I like it, and because it fits my life, my body, and my budget. I wouldn’t seek out a shoe that looked like a Louboutin, though I might discover after the fact that a shoe I bought was inspired by a Louboutin.

  2. Danielle June 5, 2008 at 12:28 pm #

    I just bought a pair of absolutely delicious navy croc-embossed open toe 4″ heels. They have a red sole. They are a Kenneth Cole line….NOT a Louboutin. I did not buy them because they give the impression of being Louboutins, and actually, I feel a bit guilty about it.

    I don’t care for knock-offs. I really don’t. I’d rather wait & save the money and invest in a genuine piece rather than buying a cheap knock-off. Maybe it’s my own personal pride/vanity.

    The implications in to copyright law are highly interesting to me (I’m a 3rd year law student), and I agree it’s diffictul to draw a bright line between what is really just following a trend, and what is merely copying a designer’s work using cheaper materials and a cheaper process. With as frequently as trends shift, I’m not sure it would even be worth the legal fees incurred to GET copyright protection.

    Hmm…maybe I just found myself a potential career: enter intellectual property/copyright law and get hired by some fabulous house of design. :) I wonder if Dior is hiring….

  3. Cat June 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm #

    I pretty much agree with Wendy. I’d never purposely seek out a knock-off because if I like the original, I’ll buy the original. If I can’t afford the original, I don’t want an inferior copy. However, if I bought something because I liked it and then later found out it was a knock-off, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

    I have a pair of Oh Deers with a camouflage sole — I have no idea if they’re copying someone else’s design or not, but I bought the shoes because I liked ’em.

  4. La Petite Acadienne June 5, 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    I’m with Wendy. I wouldn’t deliberatelky buy a knockoff, and I find that most of the blatant, logo-and-all knockoffs tend to just look really cheap anyway. That being said, there is always a trickle-down effect in fashion, so if I see a $29 shirt at Reitman’s that is following the trend that was established by a high-end designer, what’s the harm? We all want to look stylish.

    But if you can, even once, splash out on the designer goods, they tend to be worth it. I have a black satin Prada makeup bag that I bought in Toronto. It was $100, but it has doubled as an evening clutch on at least 5 separate occasions, and I have used that makeup bag every day for the last 10 years, and it’s only now showing some signs of wear.

  5. Dowdydiva June 5, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    I think designers are inspired by each other, and even inexpensive street fashion.
    That said, I won’t buy anything knowingly that claims to be a real designer item, but is a flat out fake.

    I’d rather buy a well-worn Coach bag on eBay for a fraction of a new bag than to buy a fake. Besides, if you buy a legit used bag, and there is a problem with it, Coach will fix it gratis or send you the hardware to do it yourself.

  6. Mimi Stratton June 5, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    It is one of the most fun things in the world to go to NYC’s Chinatown and spend a couple hours walking up and down the street looking in all the stalls at the fakes and maybe picking up an item (Kelly bag) or two (long string pearls).

  7. Mimi Stratton June 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    It is one of the most fun things in the world to go to New York City’s Chinatown and cruise up and down the street looking in all the stalls at the fakes and maybe purchasing an item (Kelly bag) or two (long string pearls).

  8. Leah June 5, 2008 at 2:47 pm #

    I think there’s a strong parallel between fashion and art. Things are priced based on industry belief and what people are willing to pay. I’m not judging that as a bad thing, but if I like a picasso, there’s no way in hell I can ever afford to pay for it. If I like it bad enough and want it in my home, I’m buying a print. Not a knock-off, but a copy, for sure. I’m no art-history major, but it seems that somewhere along the line, artists and the art world “sanctioned” prints because they couldn’t NOT do it. Perhaps that’s something the fashion world would do too?
    I have bought purses on the streets of Chinatown. I don’t know if it’s a knock-off, ’cause I don’t like wearing logos, but even if it was AND I knew it to be, I wouldn’t mind. Designers are not loosing money because I’m buying a knock-off – places like Target, Payless, and Old Navy are. I have a fixed idea of what I want to spend on certain items, and even if I *love* something, if it’s out of that price range, I won’t buy it. Most lables are FAR out of that range.

  9. CanadianChick June 5, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    I’d never knowingly buy a knock-off, but that’s probably because I’d also never knowingly buy anything “designer”. I think most of the things that have a conspicuously ‘designer’ look, whether it be a logo or a trademark gimmick are icky…if I’m going to be splashed with someone’s company logo, they’d better be paying ME, not the other way around!

    I buy (and make) what I like and what I think is reasonable value.

  10. Bridey June 5, 2008 at 6:26 pm #

    I would never, never, never buy a flat-out counterfeit — and the alleged justification I’ve heard that “those designers are all too rich anyway” really bugs me. I watched fully two-thirds of my co-workers lose their jobs in the course of one year while the thieves who were (and are) devastating the industry we relied on said their victims were “all too rich anyway.”

    That said, mere copies are different. They are, as of now, entirely legal, and, if an item is clearly branded and there is no intent to deceive, I have no particular problem with it. If copyright is extended to cover designs, that would be another issue — but I am very wary of any further extension of copyright in the charged atmosphere that surrounds intellectual property these days.

  11. Jennie June 5, 2008 at 6:30 pm #

    I guess I am on the fence. I do not understand paying $900.00 for a plain purse with someone’s initials on it. I do understand paying that for a piece of wearable art. I will pay for craftsmanship and for originality. I won’t pay just because it’s a “real designer piece”. Too much is spent on status, not beauty or complimentary items. I would also pay $5.00 for something that looked fabulous. As an artist and a designer, I do not want someone to steal my work but if I am charging unrealistic prices for my work, my clients will go elsewhere. So, the question is really “Is the artist worth the art?”

  12. Zoe June 5, 2008 at 9:04 pm #

    I really dislike most designer bags anyway, especially ones with a logo slathered across them (Louis Vuitton, I’m looking at you here), so I wouldn’t buy a counterfeit or a legit version.

    Shoes, though? I’d rather save for the real thing, because almost inevitably, the quality of the materials and the construction will be better.

    Like Wendy though, if I bought something that I later discovered was a copy, it wouldn’t bother me much.

  13. supasam June 6, 2008 at 12:41 am #

    I don’t like copies that attempt to deceive the consumer. However, designers themselves, the ones who would try and copyright their own products, have oft been known to ‘borrow’ from other designers, artists, and even gas station T shirts. So I think it’s fair game. There is nothing new in ‘art’ anymore anyway. It’s all been done and everything everyone does is derived from something else. Even the Kaiser himself said that if you change 3 things it’s no longer a copy.

  14. ChaChaHeels June 6, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    I tend to avoid anything with a logo printed or stamped anywhere. I’m like the other woman on this comment board who believes I ought to be paid for advertising anyone’s company–I should not have to advertise for someone free of charge.

    So if the item has some kind of recognizable trademark designed to broadcast my imaginary good taste or disposable income from one side of the room to the other, I’m leaving it in the store.

  15. jenn June 6, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    I bought a knock-off once at a “designer” purse party. I returned it after deciding that I’d rather have just a few authentic pieces. Plus it looked kind of crappy once I got it home.

    Yes to copyrights. I consider designers artists just like authors. Why shouldn’t they be able to protect their designs from imposters?

  16. Erin June 6, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    I don’t buy designer anything and that’s the truth. Unless the shoes are real solid gold or diamond, I’m sorry they are not worth it.

    I buy non-name brand everything, but I have 1 pair Air Force Ones(by Nike) That I’m certain are not AF1’s… because my sister got them for 20 dollars. Other then that I go to stores and buy what looks and what fits, not because of a designer label.

    I also make my own clothes, and I talk to alot of girls that sew as well. It’s very flattering to have coffee with them in a skirt I made one week and come back the next and see the girls I was eating with wearing a similar design, they feel the same vice versa. Maybe that’s just us :-)

    I think the idea of copyrighting clothes in ludacris, no offense but you copy right the look? The logos, the names yes, but if I want to go home and paint the bottom of my shoes red so what? You honestly think anyone will really be fouled? Probably not, people wearing knock-offs look like fouls anyway.

  17. Miss Laura Mars June 6, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    [Logos are] designed to broadcast … good taste or disposable income …

    I think that a lot of people buy designer stuff for these very reasons, and then experience a bit of heartburn that others can appropriate that status for themselves on the cheap.

  18. Becky June 6, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    I don’t buy knockoffs because I’m not too fussed about labels, but my favourite purse happens to be a Gucci knockoff that my grandma bought me in Turkey. I don’t love it because it says Gucci, but because it’s so cute and pretty.

    But if you can’t afford designer stuff and you refuse to buy imitations/copies/”designer inspired” stuff, you’re pretty much stuck walking around barefoot and purseless (and probably naked to boot) because almost all inexpensive fashion is just a much diluted copy of designer fashion. Marc Jacobs copies Prada, Nine West copies Marc Jacobs, Forever 21 copies Nine West. And so it goes.

  19. notfaking June 7, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    I do not buy flat out knocks offs- the ones you buy on the street or in the cheap stores, where you know they are knock offs, pretty much because they look cheap and I hate having the labels/ logos of anything splashed across what I am wearing unless I have been given the item or they payed me hard cash for it. Why should I offer free advertising?

    I also won’t knowingly buy a fake item because knock-offs directly support illegal activities, such as terrorist organizations and drug cartels. The fakes also help to close down perfectly legitmate businesses- I work closely with the Fraud Investigation arm of my employer and the amount of money that is spent protecting brand integrity is staggering. It is bad enough that people knowingly buy fake items, what is really scary is that people think they are buying the real thing and it turns out to be a fake.

    That being said, art inspires art. I can afford a pair of shoes at Nine West that were inspired by Prada- where as, I cannot afoord Prada- and we have 2 daughters- one getting ready for college and one who is getting married. I will buy clothing and shoes that have been inspired by major houses because I know I am buying the inspired item.
    If you have ever thrown on all of your pearls with your plain business suit because you saw it on a CHanel Model, you were inspired by the real thing, We all take cues on our style from others- being inspired by a look is completely different than copying a look.

    And if you are knowingly buying fakes and trying to pass them off as real, you are not fooling anyone.

  20. M June 7, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    Father.. and child bride? What?

  21. Annalucia June 8, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    The Annalucia buys her shoes from the lovely people at the Naturalizer, and her handbags from whatever department store is having the sale. She admits that she does not look for labels. She looks for color, size, and general usefulness.

    She must also echo the question of M: Father and child bride? Plumcake dear, please do not drop such an alarming remark and then leave your readers in suspense.

  22. Sharn June 8, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    I’d never knowingly buy a designer anything because that’s tacky tacky tacky. However… I bought a Fossil purse (for about $60) that I later learned looks an awful lot like one by Kate Spade (which sells for $395). It’s not a blatant ripoff, but their shape, construction and hardware are quite similar. Oh well. I bought it because it was beautiful, practical and affordable, not because I thought I could pass it off as the poor girl’s Kate Spade.

  23. foreign_fashion June 9, 2008 at 5:33 am #

    After living in an Asian city for a year, I cannot tell you how absolutely frustrating it is being asked every time I go out whether I want to buy a “copy watch” or “copy bag.” Because I have a Western face, these peddlers believe I am interested in buying cheap knockoffs. I have never even looked at their wares, but I have seen some buys of other people. The only word I can use to describe them is: CHEAP. I prefer to at least buy from a real store that has been passed as a credible business, rather than a little cart or someone’s car trunk, filled with very fake versions of the beautiful designs we eye in Vogue each month. That said, I feel very comfortable spending money at Nine West or other such stores with cheaper price tags but still great quality material. The best pair of mini heels I ever bought was a light-pink pair of pointy-toes from a Nine West outlet. They didn’t come close to breaking the bank ($12), and they still look fabulous after 2 years of wear.

    Run past the cheap knock-off sellers and run toward a store that stands behind their products, albeit the fact that they shape their fashion after someone else. Who doesn’t?!

  24. La BellaDonna June 9, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    I would never knowingly buy counterfeit anything; the idea of funneling money to terrorists and drug dealers nauseates me. Fortunately, I’m not interested in designer anything based on the name or label alone.

    As an aside, I had shoes made with red heels and soles more than 30 years ago, and I’d never heard of Louboutin. Red heels/soles have been fashionable since the sixteenth century, and that’s what motivated me at the time, and might well do so in the future. Louboutin does not own that flash of colour. (Of course, I’d be the first to say, “No, they’re not!” if someone were to ask me if the shoes were Louboutins.)

  25. Jennie June 9, 2008 at 11:41 pm #

    Everyone in design uses the “case” method…
    **Copy And Steal Everything**…
    I want to clarify what I said before. I am not interested in “designer” stuff because it has LV on it or something similar. I love originality. I hate “mall clothes/accessories” I travel throughout the US teaching and I look for boutiques to see what is original and fresh. I have Kate Spade, Prada, Sacha, and Fluevox shoes because I love the STYLE! I also have some Payless for the same reasons. Clothing wise I have St. John to Skullz to wear depending on the circumstances. Labels don’t matter…Style does…

  26. Sara June 10, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    I don’t love Gucci or Vuitton logo print, but there’s nothing tackier than the lower-end logo prints that toe the line on counterfeit. Either buy the real thing or go home. Nobody is mistaking your $30 bag for the $800 one.

    If I want something badly enough, it’s worth saving and investing. I want it to last for ages. I have a Tod’s purse that I’ll have in fifty years. Craftsmanship and quality materials are worth the investment. It’s petty thievery to hunt down counterfeit junk. Anyone who has seen the real thing isn’t fooled, and you just look cheap.

    I understand that inspiriation comes from lots of places, and that this fall’s Prada will be found in a reinvented form in Nine West next fall. That’s okay. It’s not a blatant rip-off, and trends trickle down through the price points over time.

  27. Max July 16, 2008 at 4:12 am #

    It is a quite interesting post but quite difficult to understand for me –