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PR departments propel myths about designer dupes to create legal confusion, ethical doubt, and a lot of guilt.

The luxury industry is fighting hard against counterfeits. By persistently cranking up prices, they create an even bigger demand for accessible designer dupes. Since the pursuit of perpetrators is getting harder and designer dupes look more authentic than ever, the global supply chains are well established. The internet and social media platforms give way for more fashion offerings on more sales platforms than ever.

Myth Number One – The real price in counterfeit goods: you support child labor, drug trafficking, organized crime, and even terrorism.

Unfortunately for fashion, the notion that expensive and real is any less criminal than cheap and fake is a massive crock of shit. All luxury brands do a lot of work in low salary countries with low standards and weak labor laws. All high-end luxury heavyweights who are frequently ripped off by the counterfeit industry; all entities poised to benefit from the mockery of a cause: Fashion’s Fight Against Fakes.

Hypocrisy must be the next big thing.

All labels are happy to expose and condemn their counterfeit competition for crimes that they, in all their brandtastic glory, too have committed. Hypocrisy must be the next big thing.

But the notion that children master the tasks of high precision leather cutting, operate sewing machines with precision, and create high-end dupes is ludicrous. Most designer fakes are produced in South East Asia in small to medium-sized family-run businesses. Often they do legitimate work for department stores and dupes in between.

I haven’t seen any children in my frequent travels to SEA other than sleeping in the office or on a pile of boxes while their parents worked. Calm South East Asia is not a hot spot for terrorism or a home for terrorist organizations. You instead fund a terrorist organization with each time filling your gas tank.

Myth Number Two: Illicit trade in designer fakes hurts the sales and profits of luxury brands.

This myth is based on the false premise that a bought fake is an unsold original. If a customer likes a particular style that is out of her budget, and she is purchasing a dupe; instead, she would not afford the original if the designer fake is not an option.

Renee Richardson Gosline spent two years investigating the relationship between genuine and fake luxury goods, as highlighted in her ‘Counterfeit Labels: Good For Luxury Brands?’ article for Forbes. Gosline’s findings purport that these knock offs are beneficial in terms of a sampling tool.

Dupes are a gateway to the real deal. After buying a knock off, consumers surprisingly developed an attachment to the authentic brand it was fashioned after. She found that their knockoff encouraged them to go into the store and get acquainted with the original.

The study likewise found that counterfeiting had a surprisingly positive effect on the sales of high-end branded items.

Their mentality shifted from good- deal purchase to wanting an investment piece. Thus counterfeit consumers could be viewed as potential customers since their purchase is an indication that they like the brand. Perhaps they couldn’t afford the genuine products immediately, but they could convert to loyal customers later on.

A 2011 study by economist Yi Qian for the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at data from 31 branded shoe companies and many counterfeiters operating in China. The study likewise found that counterfeiting had a surprisingly positive effect on the sales of high-end branded items.

The substitution effect is harmful to creators, and the advertising effect is helpful

The tendency of counterfeits to advertise the branded product’s desirability, what is called the “advertising effect,” outweighed any substitution effect, by which we mean the impact of consumers purchasing the counterfeit instead of the original. The substitution effect is harmful to creators, and the advertising effect is helpful. And only for low-end branded products did the substitution effect outweigh the advertising effect.

In short, copies of branded goods, dupes, can have a counterintuitive effect on originals. While these copies could steal some would-be buyers of the original, they can also help create new buyers through the advertising effect. Some counterfeit buyers “graduate” to the real thing, whereas others who never buy dupes become buyers of the original because the counterfeits serve as advertising.

This point is not limited to formal brands, that is, to the kinds of brands protected by trademark law. The advertising effect’s basic dynamic can also be seen in individual creators, who can build a valuable name for themselves as innovators.

Myth number three: Counterfeits harming the luxury brand’s image and reputation.

The counterfeiting business can be a way to diagnose the health of the strategy of the brand. How so? Counterfeiters will only rip off brands that have achieved a significant awareness threshold. For example, the way customers can recognize Louis Vuitton from its logo or print and Christian Louboutin’s red sole. It’s a confirmation that the luxury brand has successfully created the dream and functionality aspect that others most copy.

Barnett argued that counterfeits help brand owners by signaling to high-end consumers the desirability

In a fascinating paper, legal scholar Jonathan Barnett explored how, in the fashion industry, brand owners benefited even when knockoff artists took their designs and counterfeited their brands. Barnett argued that counterfeits help brand owners by signaling to high-end consumers the desirability of the original item as part of an emerging fashion trend.


Barnett argues, their presence on the streets signals that the dress, handbag, or shoes they are aping are especially desirable. Counterfeits communicate that even those who can’t afford to have the real thing still want it. That’s a free ad for the branded product.

Myth Number Four:  Designer dupes are thwarting innovation.

In a world where technology is making copying ever easier, we think these industries have a lot to teach us. And one of the key lessons is that reproduction is not just a destructive force; it can also be productive.

In fashion, status can be signaled by expensive labels and materials. But it is also marked by trends.

Status is undoubtedly central to fashion. And in fashion, status can be signaled by expensive labels and materials. But it is also marked by trends. Specifically, being on the leading edge of, rather than a late-comer to, is a hot trend. Thinking about fashion as an industry driven by trends and people trying to acquire or keep status by discovering the new trends and discarding the old, can help explain why imitation in fashion is not especially harmful to innovation.


Indeed, as we will explain, free and easy copying benefits the fashion industry more than harms it. Legal rules that permit copying accelerate the diffusion of styles. More rapid dissemination, in turn, leads to a more rapid decline. And the faster they fall, the quicker and more intense is the appetite for new designs.

Copying, in short, is the fuel that drives the fashion cycle faster.

As they are copied, these new designs spark the creation of new trends and, consequently, new sales. Copying, in short, is the fuel that drives the fashion cycle faster. It is essential to both the trend-making and trend-destruction processes. Copying speeds up the creative process, spurring designers to create anew to stay ahead of the fashion curve. This makes copying paradoxically valuable.

The process is called induced obsolescence, that is, obsolescence caused by copying. A design is launched and, for some reason, that few can predict (or even explain), it becomes desirable. Early adopters begin to wear it, and fashion magazines and blogs write of it glowingly.

The once-coveted item becomes anathema to the fashion-conscious.

Other firms observe its growing success and seek to ape it, often at lower price points. As the now-hot design is copied, it becomes far more widely purchased and hence even more visible. For a time, the trend grows. Past a certain point, however, the process reverses course. The once-coveted item becomes anathema to the fashion-conscious, and, eventually, to those who are somewhat less style-focused. The early adopters move on, and the process begins again.