The counterfeit market is evolving and it’s getting harder to distinguish the fakes from the real. So, grab your surprisingly cheap, possibly fake, Gucci t-shirt and listen up.
Fake designer goods have always been in circulation, whether it’s that dodgy Sunday market stall selling ‘Louis Vuitton’ backpacks with awful typos, or online eBay stores exporting ‘authentic’ designer goods. It wasn’t until I watched Highsnobiety’s recent fashion documentary, that I realised how insane it is.
Alec Leacher, producer of the documentary, went to Seoul to see for himself why it’s the home of counterfeit culture. He discovered that South Korea was obsessed with the West and this led to the boom in the counterfeit industry. Brands we all love like: Off-White, Yeezy and Supreme, are all victims to this ‘free advertising’, but also damaging market. Alec found that you could pay “$25 for a supreme box logo hoodie”, which were readily available on most street corners and markets.
He found that South Koreans being so obsessed with the mainstream brands, meant that they didn’t seem to know or care they were wearing fakes. If you watched the documentary, which I highly recommend you do, you would have seen how convincing some of the items were. It’s almost impossible to tell them apart from the real deal. This is all because, as Leacher puts it, the young Koreans desire to stay relevant and dress like famous K-pop stars. You know K-pop…that genre of music most of us don’t lyrically understand, but the beat sounds cool!
Leacher concluded that, the reason for fakes being made and brands being ‘ripped off’, was down to designers building their business around hype. A very bold statement but true none the less, if it wasn’t for the need to copy the fashion of the West, then the counterfeit markets wouldn’t be as relevant.[pullquote]However, the question of why we feel the need to buy fakes and conform to a society where we are judged by our wealth of style arises.[/pullquote] Even though these products aren’t the real deal, not to get all Freudian on you all, but people psychologically convince themselves that these items are real so much so that they actually begin to believe it. We shouldn’t feel ashamed of not being able to afford high-end goods, I mean who really wants to spend £1085 on Balenciaga’s ‘T-shirt Shirt’ just to look like you got dressed with both eyes closed that morning – not me anyway. But, if you do feel the need to ‘rip-off’ this design, I’m sure your DIY skills will come into great use.
A new approach more ‘affordable’ brands are taking at the moment is shamefully recreating expensive brands products, but tweaking them just enough that they don’t have a lawsuit on their hands. When I say ‘shamefully’ this isn’t my opinion of the tactic, I actually find it to be fair and it’s about time brands level the playing field and allow everyone to experience typically ‘high-fashion’ trends. However, I personally will happily decline Zara’s opportunity to delve into the ‘trainer-sock’ trend – I mean come on, is it a sock or is it a trainer??
The big question is whether it damages the reputation of the brand, and to be honest it kind of does! I can go on Depop right now and source a pair of fake Yeezys for less than £50, whether they look legit or not is another thing. The fashion’s ‘black market’ is too easily accessible, even the dark web has some top-secret way of accessing it, yet none of us really care because, say it with me, WE ALL LOVE THE HYPE.