Why are they so popular?
The consumer culture we currently live in, leading us to believe we ‘need’ the latest fashion trends at any cost. Instagram influencers and bloggers have dominated our screens with various designer handbags, belts and shoes. I myself am fully immersed in said culture, attempting to justify spending €320 on a plain red t-shirt just because it has the Gucci symbol on it. This price begins to seem cheap after searching through items that can cost a couple of thousand, at least. An embroidered hoodie on Gucci’s website will set you back €2980. Despite knowing it is ridiculous, I still feel the need to get it. If you could get the ‘same’ thing for a fraction of the cost, why wouldn’t you? Counterfeit and fake designer items are not only evident within the fashion side of things but also jewelry (specifically watches), makeup and perfume. Makeup and perfume in particular can be quite dangerous as little to no regulations are in progress. In recent testing, some counterfeit makeup has been found to contain hazardous chemicals, including rat poison.
Where are they?
The first place I came across counterfeit goods was on holidays in Turkey, as a young child. Stalls and markets were full of handbags copying the styles and labels of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. There were endless supplies of clothing featuring popular brands at the time such as Diesel, Calvin Klein and Levi jeans. Today, one doesn’t have to go abroad to get their counterfeit fix: a quick google search will do. There are websites dedicated to selling ‘replicas’ but eBay also has lists of cheap counterfeit goods. I have also recently seen a rise in Facebook pages/shops selling various designer handbags. The production of these goods takes place mainly in China.
Is it illegal?
In short, yes! Certain products are referred to as counterfeit products because they infringe trademarks and/or copyright. The laws surrounding counterfeit goods come from European regulations, specifically the European Communities (Counterfeit and Pirated Goods) Regulations 1996. Although, I’m not quite sure how prevalent prosecutions are for those owning counterfeit goods. The law, with customs, revenue and the Gardaí are more focused on the importation of the goods in Ireland – counterfeit goods arriving into Ireland are on the rise, according to customs.
It can still be expensive!
Some counterfeit items are sold as being ‘the real deal’, leading to many paying full price (the recommended retail price in shops) for items worth very little. Items can also be expensive, although not nearly as much as the ‘real’ goods, as they can be marketed as the ‘best replicas’ out there, arguing that no one can tell the difference.
Fashion is now extremely fast, with high street brands copying elements and trends from luxury brands and bringing them to the masses at affordable prices. Some of the designer pieces available today are not in a ‘classic style’ and may look outdated in a few months.
Those classic pieces – the black Chanel handbag, for example – are more likely to actually increase in value rather than decrease. But another option, if you cannot live without a designer fix, is to shop for second-hand or nearly new goods in consignment stores.
Is the designer logo and name really worth it?