Ok, so I must confess that lately even I have been slightly obsessed with that Gucci Marmont belt--you know the one--two big gold G's for the buckle. It's all over the place, being spotted on celebrity trend-setters and fashion bloggers everywhere, but at $450 a pop, it may not be a viable option for all of us (well at least not for me). Don't get me wrong, if you can throw down that kind of hard earned cash for a signature belt, be my guest, but if you're like most of us, spending a chunk of your rent money in order to wear someone else's initials around your waist just isn't an option. That said, though, I still kind of wanted one...just for fun. Long story short, that's how I found myself placing a $15 online order with a guy in China last night.
Now I'm not a dope, I know that I'm not getting the real double G shown on the left above (sorry House of Gucci), but at a mere fraction of the designer price tag, I'm curious, and won't lose too much sleep over the cost if the fake looks ridiculous and ends up in my Salvation Army pile. It's funny, the site where I found (and there were plenty to chose from) my dupe even included a box and dustbag labeled Gucci, and additionally, the "genuine 10000%" leather belt is even stamped Gucci on the inside. Now, some things to note, the box and dustbag are a slightly different color than the authentic ones, and the serial number stamped on the belt won't even remotely match up with a real Gucci, but I don't care. I just wanted something on-trend to wear with distressed denim and a tee, and if at 10' away it passes for the real thing, then woo hoo!
So, in the case of my belt, I knew I was buying a copy, but sometimes it's not so easy to spot the fake. In fact, there are some "dupes" out there that are at times better crafted than their authentic counterparts. These counterfeits may also command a relatively steep price--high enough that the buyer may think its a good deal on the real thing, but just low enough to be affordable to her.
One time a family member was visiting New York and saw a man selling fake designer bags on the street. When she asked him if he had anything Chanel, he looked shiftily around and told her to meet him at a specific location late at night. Now, I know what you are thinking--that's a good way to end up without a kidney--but, being the fearless female she is, and outfitted with a brand new can of pepper spray, she showed up and sure enough he had the goods. For a cool $350 she ended up with a bag that would have cost well over a grand if she bought the real deal. You really can't tell it's a fake unless you were an appraiser, or inspecting the real deal right next to it. Other times you get what you pay for with street vendors, especially when you get home and realize your newly purchased Prada is spelled Prado. Usually the obvious tells are in the details like the lining, stitching, and hardware. It's easy to fake a serial number or tags, but faking the quality of the hardware is damn near impossible.
Spotting the fakes is a challenge at times--check out these couture T's below!
These days it's really easy to buy a dupe in place of your favorite high end items. Loads of blogs, and even popular magazines, have articles about where to get the newest "it" item at a fraction of the cost. Some of these items are blatant ripoffs of the actual design while others are just loosely inspired. A quick google search also yields a lot of results. Although these aren't as vetted, so you have to use your discretion when buying from those sources. We've all seen the cautionary tale pictures of girls who have bought their prom dress from a site selling dupes of designer gowns. The product might be vastly different than the picture. Just be sure to do some research and read any reviews if the site allows them. In fact, if they don't offer reviews, that is a good sign that the product isn't up for scratch.
Now since we are examining this curious world of "inspired" goods, we should give a mention to the "knock-off". Contrary to a dupe or fake that appears to label itself the real deal (remember that Prada vs Prado?), a knock-off is a copy that is sold under its own label, but "inspired" by a high end design. Fast fashion retailers like Forever 21 and Zara can reproduce a runway look practically overnight. Legally, a garment's design is not subject to any copyright protection, however the print on the garment is. So, you may find your knockoff style and it may even look like the the same designer print on the fabric, but look closely (VERY closely) and you may find some small variation--perhaps the cross-hatch marks are a teeny bit off, or the leaf on the floral just a hair different. It's just a matter of how important those little details are to you. Typically the knockoff question refers to the actual style of the garment and more often than not, a designer has no control over manufacturers knocking off her/his design.
Ok, so by no means are we pushing the counterfeit goods, and if you do want to have the real thing, perhaps do a little hunting around--sites like Ebay and The Real Real may have the designer item you've been hunting for at a better price than you might find inside an upscale retail store. Last year, I got a bee in my bonnet that I just had to have that iconic Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress--that my humdrum life wouldn't be complete without one to call my own. Anyhow, I found myself in a bidding war for one (NWT) on Ebay, which I successfully won. I could authenticate the dress by the little hologram that DVF pieces have inside, as well as the fabric's print and composition. The dress cost me about a third of the full retail so it was kind of a win-win for me :). As for that faux Gucci belt? Well, we will just have to wait and see because it is quite literally, on a slow boat from China. No kidding, the shipping window was about five weeks long...