Most commonly, the types of individuals that purchase fake goods (especially handbags) aren't able to afford the real deal - this we know. One would wonder what the harm of purchasing counterfeits actually is. Who cares if someone can't afford an authentic Chanel bag and so what if they still want to feel apart of the elite club manufactured by the individuals that can afford one? Does it really matter if someone...pretends? "Fake it 'til you make it" does bare a grain of truth.
One would also argue that counterfeiting is a victimless crime. The guy selling fake Birkins on a beach is just trying to make a living, right? And as if one, tiny shop selling £20 fakes is going to take revenue away from huge, billion dollar corporations like Prada or Louis Vuitton. If anything, counterfeiting could be considered a form of additional, free advertising for these brands, no?
The fact of it is, the counterfeit industry is a lot more dangerous that you think. It's not just knocking off a Gucci or interpreting a Fendi, it's so much more than that. Not only does it ruin the reputation of genuine brands, but it profits off the artistry of the original designers. It doesn't take a genius to know that stealing is wrong - but the true problem lies in the immoral contributions it makes to other industries behind closed doors. This isn't necessarily the case for every single stand you see on Oxford street, but the general counterfeit industry is linked to drugs, prostitution, human trafficking and terrorism. Anyone with a moral compass would never consciously make a contribution to any of these industries directly, but the "Givenchy" bag you bought for £30 that looks identical to the authentic version could have been stitched by a stolen child. Though that is unimaginable to even think about, it does get worse. The fake Rolex you purchase without thinking it's big deal could potentially help fund a terrorist attack in your city. As depressing and sickening as it is, unfortunately, this is the reality we live in.
Though we can dive deep into the rabbit hole, we'd like to shed some positive light on this dark topic by encouraging you to support alternative businesses. Of course it's great to have a designer handbag, or one that looks like the real thing even if you know it isn't. However, it's never worth it if it doesn't align with our ethics. Finding a good quality handbag, even finding the real Gucci bag you've been after, is achievable and at a reasonable price.
Outlet malls do exist. Bicester Village is where luxury dreams come true and at discounted prices. Let's be honest, you're not going to find a well-made handbag for £25, but if you compromise immediacy and patiently save your pennies, you'll be able to afford something genuine. BV discounts their luxury products by 30% at least, depending on the brand, item and season.
Reselling companies, consignment stores and vintage shops are amazing alternatives. Not only does it allow individuals to afford luxury pieces but the entire notiont is environmentally friendly. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, following oil. The act of wearing and loving your clothing, handbags, shoes and anything in between, and then passing it on to a new home is not only a humbling experience for the seller, but it's also the sustainable way forward. Allowing consumers to afford authentic items at a much lower price while recycling and keeping authenticity alive, consignment is a fantastic, progressive concept that won't break your bank or your heart.
Perhaps the best option would be to support independent designers. If you live in London, or any major city for that matter, you're surrounded by an abundance of up-and-coming designers who produce quality products that won't leave you in debt. Plus, you don't have to have the latest Chanel bag to be stylish. Money can always buy beautiful things, yes, but it can't buy genuine style - that's up to you. Supporting your local fashion brand is not only beneficial to the designers and the economy, but also to your individuality. We've seen enough logo, brand-embossed designer handbags going around and quite frankly, it lacks innovation and originality. If you choose to shop at an independent boutique, odds are few other people with have the same thing.
At the end of the day, the counterfeit industry is one that no one should support - regardless of how much money is in your bank account. The tragic and disturbing truth of the industry really put things into perspective. It makes one wonder, are materialistic items ever really worth it? Even if you can afford a designer handbag right off the shelves of Saint Laurent, someone, somewhere has suffered. Does any of it truly matter in the grand scheme of things? Humans are consumers by nature, but when is enough ever actually enough? If you are happy, in good health and have genuine love in your life - what else really matters? This is food for thought.
By: Isabel de Carteret