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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How Well Known Labels Are Changing the Counterfeit Stigma


 
A Guccy shirt from Gucci Resort 2018Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv
Once upon a time, counterfeit designer goods were a fashion no-go. Buying a fake piece of clothing or accessory was associated with a try-hard attitude and an empty pocket. Take, for example, Sex and the City’s “Sex and Another City” episode, in which Samantha Jones bought a knockoff Fendi bag from the trunk of a car. After showing it off to her friends, she noted, “You’d never know it wasn’t real Fendi unless you look inside at the lining.” Later on, Samantha’s dirty little $150 made-in-China secret was found out publicly at a party—a small price to pay for long-lasting embarrassment.
But times have changed. Recently, some of the most influential runway designers have created cringe-worthy, definitely-not-real clothes and accessories—a far cry from Samantha’s trunk-plucked Fendi, inspired by the more modern appeal of bootleg fashion. Alessandro Michele showed Fake Gucci T-shirts loudly emblazoned with the label’s logo for Resort 2017, a design based on counterfeits that were popular on the streets during the ’80s. The brand’s Resort 2018 collection continued with the theme of through-the-looking-glass bootleg culture: A coat with Gucci-monogrammed sleeves became the meme heard round the Internet after it drew comparisons to a similar topper by Harlem-based designer Dapper Dan, the original kingpin of DIY luxury bootlegs, who created a Louis Vuitton monogrammed coat for Olympic medalist Diane Dixon in the ’80s. There were also shirts that read Guccy—reflecting a trend at bargain bazaars, where misspelled names (deliberate or otherwise) are on every corner.

Before Gucci’s foray into faux fakes, there was, of course, Vetements, which turned the concept of fake fashion on its head and shilled “real fakes” to the mass market. In October 2016, the brand held an “official fake” garage sale outside Seoul, where off-kilter remakes of iconic pieces nodded cleverly to the proliferation of Vetements bootlegs in that city. Since Vetements, like Gucci, has become one of the most copied labels in the world, the strategy makes sense: If you can’t beat the copycats to the punch, then join them for a higher price tag. The approach seems to be working. Those Fake Gucci T-shirts have sold out both at Selfridges and Farfetch.



A Fake Gucci T-shirt from Gucci Resort 2017Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv
I recently returned from Tbilisi, Georgia, with hoards of thick plastic “Chinatown” bags printed with the double-C Chanel logo (with the house’s name written as “Ceanhl”) and other totes combining Louis Vuitton’s classic Damier monogram with Gucci monogrammed tabs. The cheap carryalls may be considered the bane of luxury—they are scathingly, shamelessly fake—but there’s also a cheeky charm that comes with proudly sporting something so obviously not real. My colleagues seemed to agree with this line of thinking: The totes were a hit at the office. “It’s a so-bad-it’s-good thing,” said Vogue’s Fashion News Director, Chioma Nnadi, the recipient of one of the bags. “There’s nothing subtle about the fakeness of it. It’s like no-shame fake.”



Fake Chanel tote bags, a fake Versace shirt, and fake Chanel bedsheets from Eastern EuropeCourtesy of Liana Satenstein / @liana_ava
On a smaller scale, there is the rise of millennial bootleg artists. Designer Ava Nirui of @avanope has built a career out of embroidering Gucci onto Champion hoodies and merging Carhartt with the Chanel name. Imran Moosvi, aka @imran_potato, uses the Louis Vuitton and Gucci monograms in almost everything—splicing them into Nike zip-up hoodies or creating natty ties from them. “For me personally, fake stuff is more fun,” he says. “There’s more freedom to do whatever you want with it. I think the stigma associated with something being bootleg or fake is starting to disappear a little bit, because at the end of the day, people just want to see a cool product.”

But does the trend have legs? “I don’t think this design culture has longevity, because people will always find a way to overdo and ruin,” Moosvi says. After all, is there really fun in spending top dollar for an item that mimics a fake $15 one? Luxury consumers so far seem not to mind; it remains to be seen whether Guccy will have the same effect. Until then, maybe it’s more real to stick with the fake deal.
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