Fakes. Fake bags, fake clothes, fake watches. There was once a time where they were a guilty pleasure. Yet now they litter the world’s charity shops, waiting to suck the next poor, naïve soul in.
Now as you sit there reading this and thinking ‘what tragic and tormented soul is so damned that they would buy such a thing’, I ask you to listen. Just hear me out. Now if a fake were a boyfriend he would be Murray from Clueless. Yes, that’s right… Murray. You see “Murray” is that loveable guy, he stares you down at your locker with puppy dog eyes sucking you in. Now you’ve never had a “Murray” before. Your Dionne, you’re fancy, but there’s something exclusive about having “Murray.” Whilst he is no Prince of Bel-Air he will do. Things move fast and next minute, you’re head over heels for your “Murray”, even though he starts to drive you crazy. Then before you know, things are falling a part; you begin to realise your entire relationship is built on lies. So you push “Murray” to the back of your closet, with the hope that out of sight is out of mind. Fast forward many, many years and you rediscover “Murray”- a bit tattered and still living in the past. It’s then that you truly realise its worth and that the reality is, there’s nothing good about a fake.
So now, we can all be honest and admit to having had a “Murray” or two. But have you ever considered the consequences “Murray” may be having not only on your style, but also the fashion and textile industries?
Counterfeit is defined as being ‘made in exact imitation of something valuable with the intention to deceive or defraud.’ It mocks the idea of celebrating creative genius by completely ripping it off; going against every moral fibre this industry stands for. As estimated by the World Trademark Review, the counterfeit industry is believed to make profits of $600 billion annually. Now if we consider that everything from counterfeit pharmaceuticals to luxury items fall under this umbrella, it all ends up totalling to 7% of global trade.
That much revenue is nearly double the amount of the illicit drug market.
Bringing it back to fashion, majority of today’s fakes are handbags purely because they are perceived as being the most attainable luxury item and thus, the most recognizable. Handbags have always been that accessory designers can count on- women always need them and they are the easiest items to mask in a company’s logo. Recognition of a brand’s logo really came ahead in the late 80’s and early 90’s just as globalisation really started to move not only the industry, but the world. Brands began to move their production offshore and opened the eyes of companies who saw the loophole in intellectual property and copyright. Before we knew, streets of Asia and the shelves of markets were flooded with knockoffs that represented the ideals of a globalised customer – the look of luxury at a fraction of the price. Chanel, Louis Vuitton, MCM, Fendi and Gucci – no longer were they swinging at the hips of the elite, they were now clutched tightly in the hands of the everyday consumer.
In a report by the UN, results show that between 2008 and 2010, 70 percent of counterfeits came from China, the top spot for it’s manufacturing. But what the buyer was not aware of, was that these counterfeit manufacturers like those in China, promoted child labour and poor working conditions.
Whilst factory conditions and regulated work standards are improving, the quantity of counterfeit items is still growing. As fashion lovers and advocates we need to work towards the protection of our industry. There’s a saying ‘fake it till you make it,’ but we say just make it. Embrace the exclusivity that is fashion and don’t fall into the trap that is a fake.