The Designer Controversy (Part 1)

The controversy

It’s probably the largest, on-going scandal in fashion and the best part is, you’ve either participated or witnessed it unfold before your eyes.  That’s right, I’m talking about the designer vs. knockoff fiasco, particularly when it comes to handbags.

Whether to buy a designer knockoff or not has been debated since the issue first arose in recent consumer history.  As a matter of fact, the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) reports about 18% of the $98 million of counterfeit products seized by U.S. Customs in ’02 were made up of fashion-related items, including handbags.  So, fake fashion is a big, growing industry and while it’s not illegal to buy a replica handbag, it is illegal to sell them.  So, the question remains: should you buy them or not?

The opinion

While I can’t speak for other fashion-savvy consumers out there, my answer is this: if you buy knockoff bags at a second hand store or consignment shop, it is acceptable. You’re not directly feeding into the multi-million-dollar-a-year fake fashion industry, rather, just snatching up what someone has left behind.  That’s how I’ve bought all of my bags.  Just think of it as saving those items from filling up landfills. However, if you can afford the designer, you should always go legit.

The Examples

Let me show you some examples (my knockoff versions I purchased in comparison to the real bags) to show you why I chose to purchase what I did.

A fake Dooney and Bourke “All Weather Leather” handbag.

It looks legit, but it does have several differences from the real bag.

A REAL 1996 Dooney and Bourke All Weather Leather bag.

I bought this vintage-looking Dooney and Bourke bag from a Goodwill store (please refer to the first image).  However, its brand namesake didn’t catch my eye first, it was the overall design of the bag.  It’s no secret I’m in love with both vintage items and purses, and this cute shoulder bag was just screaming to be added to my collection.  With a quick examination, I knew this was not a legitimate Dooney and Bourke.  For instance, the zippers on the inside do not bear the company’s name and the clasps that hold the strap to the purse looked worn and cheap. Also, the “leather” strap  is fraying in some parts and the body of the bag was obviously designed with heavy-duty plastic leather. But, because it was solidly made (and still rather eye-catching), I decided to purchase it. To the untrained-fashion eye, this purse looks like it could be from Dooney’s All Weather Leather collection.  However, the reason I bought it was solely for how it looks as a bag, not the supposed designer.

Replica Louie Vitton tote bag

Close up view of the LV monogram

A REAL Louie Vuitton tote bag

My fake Louie Vuitton is probably the closest replica I’ve ever seen. I purchased it in Orlando, Florida, which is partly known for the large amount of dealers who sell knockoff designers.  When I saw it, I almost thought it was really a Louie at first: it had a nice, sturdy build, the zipper pulls had the LV insignia on them, and the interior was lined in a smooth, velvety fabric.  But then, just as with the Dooney and Bourke purse, I noticed the straps did not feel like real leather.  After I purchased it, I realized they frayed quite easily and also, the purse bottom does not have the metal resting studs as other designer purses may have.  So, why’d you buy it? you may be asking? Well, friends, I bought it because 1) I love the neutral design and color and 2) I needed a good, sturdy tote bag, one that would be a carry-all for my purse items.

I purchased this Chanel look-alike for $13 at shop in Florida. It looks so close to a legitimate Chanel; I was completely blown away.

It certainly claims to be a Chanel purse, but I can assure you, this purse was not made in France.

This is a real quilted Chanel handbag

Once again, this Chanel knockoff caught my eye.  I love the quilted design, and had a feeling it wasn’t real.  Yes, it said it was made in France for Chanel, but the quality of the metal detail in the strap and on the front was dull and a little scratched, leading me to believe it was not part of the designer’s line.  But, as always, I purchased the purse because I like the way it looked, not necessarily for its claim to be Chanel.

In all, the best rule of thumb is this: Only buy “designer-esque” fashion from garage sales, thrift stores, or consignment shops and make sure that the retailer isn’t claiming these are legitimate purses. Do not feed into the knockoff fashion fad by directly giving money to people who are deceptively selling these products.  And most importantly, buy a purse because of the way it looks, rather than because you’d be toting around the supposed designer’s label.

Happy thrifting!

7 Responses to “The Designer Controversy (Part 1)”
  1. cool post! did you hear about the whole louboutin controversy that’s been in the news lately?

    also, just a little spelling error – louis vuitton (with an S not an E) 🙂 xx

    • natfee says:

      Hi littlecitybot, are you referring to the 20k+ pairs of fake Louboutins that were seized in customs? I heard about that in the news! Craziness!

  2. BeingZhenya says:

    Awesome post, I usually go for the vintage Coach bags when I am thrifting, I’ve stumbled across a few fakes as well, but I just can’t bring myself to paying for them. I used to live in NYC and seeing those bags on every corner laid out on sheets and then being tied up and thrown over a shoulder of some guy who is running from the cops, nah 🙂 Your bags look awesome though!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Prada, and even the same Dooney & Bourke All-Weather Leather bag that Katie blogged about in Part One last week!  The only difference I could spot immediately was the braided pleather trim around the […]

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: