September 9, 2007

Should I Buy a Knock-Off Bag?

Reader's question:

I'm a full time medical student, and have pretty much refused to allow lifestyle to interfere with my personal style. I believe in maintaining this chicosity :) while pursuing goals, not waiting until it's too late (contrary to what most of my fellow classmates believe :) Different strokes for different folks though.

I shop EVERYWHERE, from Ann Taylor to H&M, to even your occasional Target trips for accessories and such. My only criteria is that it fit as close as possible to couture (need to pay off med loans first), while fitting my budget.

So, my question to you, fashion connoisseur, is what in the world I should do about this unshakable desire for a Louis Vuitton?

It's become quite pressing now. So, as a budget fashionista, the thought of spending abut 600 bucks on this bag is killing me with guilt.

Now, it's not that I cannot afford it at all: buying this bag will not have my husband and I (I'm 26 btw) out of eating, paying our rent, or even being short on any bills. However, we're not rich.

So I guess this would just be a really frivolous purchase for me.

I live in NJ, and I was wondering what you thought of faux bags, and getting an LV fake (should I in your opinion, where, etc). I really would rather not walk around with a bag that screams tacky fake, but if one could hardly tell with a good quality fake (if such exists), I'd probably be down for it. I am so looking forward to your response. Thank you!


Dear M.,

I think your internal turmoil in regards to buying a Louis Vuitton bag is very common amongst us (non-rich) girls.

It is a status symbol that taunts us. Very luxurious, yet somewhat still attainable. But hardly justifiable. And then we have those tempting alternatives, the knock-offs.

I would say there are three kind of Louis Vuitton shoppers:

1. The person that will buy and carry only a real Louis Vuitton.
2. The person that will buy and carry only a knock-off Louis Vuitton.
3. You.

You would love to buy a real one, but can't justify the cost. Yet, you can't move forward and forget about the bag. You still want one. You want one so bad that now are considering buying a counterfeit.

Then I say you should definitely get one.

But because you don't fit in category 2, I think, and I could be wrong, that buying a knock-off would not quench your thirst for a real Louis Vuitton bag.

But I am not going to tell you to spend $600 when you don't want to. So I would suggest you go ahead and get the best 'fake' you can find. Make sure you don't pay too much for it, it would defeat its purpose.

Also, do some research before you get this 'fake' one: go to a Louis Vuitton store to look and study the model you are going to buy. Look at the stitching, look at the handle, look at the leather and how and where each separate piece comes together, look at all the details.

I am not here to encourage you to buy a knockoff, I personally don't do it.

But I do understand your point of view, and at the same time realize that if a Louis Vuitton would cost half its price, we probably wouldn't be talking about a knock-off today. I do believe that their prices are too expensive for the product they sell, and especially considering the fact that there is no "exclusivity" factor whatsoever (you see more Louis Vuitton bags - real or fake - on the street than any other brand, at least here in NY).

So if you are going to get a 'fake' one, you want to get one that looks absolutely 'real'.

With your acquired knowledge from the visit to the store, you should intensely study the 'fake' Louis Vuitton before you buy it. Everything must look the same. Exactly the same. Don't settle for any differences. The last thing you want is to be is self-conscious every time you carry this bag. You want to know that this bag looks just like the 'real' one.

I'd also like to specify, that most of the time you can tell a 'fake' Louis Vuitton not by the bag itself, but by the carrier. The carrier is the first clue on giving away a 'fake' bag. Let me explain. If you are walking the street with unflattering clothes, messy hair, old manicure, dirty shoes and a Louis Vuitton bag, you're carrying a 'fake'. So make sure to always look your best when carrying this real looking 'fake' bag.

I don't know a specific store (or street corner) where to get a "quality" fake, but I guess Chinatown would be a good place to start from.

Buy it, enjoy it, and if you ever feel that it's not enough for you, you can always find this fix you're looking for @ 116 Green Street in New York.

Good luck and let me know the outcome!

A note to my readers:
Please feel free to leave your comments about this 'delicate' subject.
Have you ever thought about buying counterfeit? Do you own 'fake' and pass them for 'real'? If one of your friend buys a 'fake' bag and shows it off to you as 'real', do you let her know that you can tell it's a 'fake'?


Anonymous said...

Louis Vuitton is definitely a hot brand of handbags and accessories but I really prefer Chanel and this article just adds to my views I am not much feeling the styles, I really would prefer to have a Chanel or even a Chloe it would even cost me less.

Specialkalle said...

I personally am less into obvious branding, like LV, coach or dooney & bourke. I think that's kind of cheap. Like, "look at me- this is expensive." I recently bought a leather Marc Jacobs bag for... around $300. Which I really like, but when it comes down to it, I feel like a bit of a jerk spending $300 on a purse. If it's a beautiful, gorgeous, classic looking purse that I HAVE TO HAVE, then fine, splurge once in a while, but otherwise I'm almost just as happy having a knock-off that i won't want in 3 weeks anyway. It just has to be a GOOD knock off tho. My good friend is beyond wealthy, she's got a lot of prada, ferragamo, etc. but what does she do? She takes the bus to China Town NYC and she goes up and down the streets, searching for the best fakies around. she usually drags 2 giant trashbags full of purses home. she says it's just stupid to spend the money when u can have those. i'm beginning to agree.

Alison at Wardrobe Oxygen said...

It is a tough subject. Personally I hate obviously logoed items because it's usually less about the beauty or quality of the item and more about showing off that you can afford the brand.

I have no problem purchasing a knockoff, but wouldn't buy one that is logoed or obviously an item made by only that one brand. I wouldn't want to be outed. But really I own clothing and bags that are very similar to a designer item, but not the designer item because I can't afford the real thing, but admire the art of the piece.

Problem with a lot of "It" bags is that they look dated very quickly. You get that LV and less than a year later it's considered passe. I spent almost $300 on a bag last fall from a popular designer - got it cheaper on eBay but I don't regret it because it's very good quality, a style that hasn't gone out of style and I am still in love with it.

But spend money on what you love, makes you feel good! Don't shop to impress others, but to help define yourself and your style. if LV does, that, then I say you go girl! :-)

Anonymous said...

I started buying fakes in high school and I have developed a knack for finding good fakes!! If you can find a good one , then why the hell not!!!! Eventually in between loans and kids you will have time to blow some money on the real thing, but for right now go for it!!!! As a matter of fact I live in Texas, but bought my first fake Fendi in New York on canal street before everyone new about it!!!! Good luck Girl, let us know what you decide!!!!

Anonymous said...

I would advice you against buying a fake. It's illegal to produce fake goods and you are indirectly supporting sweatshops in china who use child labour..etc Owning a LV is all about enjoying the quality of the material, the luxury of a fine product. A fake will never give you the same satisfaction and even if you manage to fool people into thinking it'^s an original you will always know it's a cheap fake. And that is enough. Just wait until you can afford one and you will enjoy the quality and luxury of a beautifully made product!!

Anonymous said...

I believe in buying fake bags but buying good shoes, because bags are always going out of fashion but shoes last

Anonymous said...

i have one and no one knows the difference. i worked in a salon in a rich town where all the women had real bags and even they couldnt tell! so go for it! and i agree with the comment about good shoes vs fake bags. i have some real bags too but honestly im not spending 3 g's or more on a damn pocket book! and msot of the chicks u see with them didnt spend that either.

Anonymous said...

NO! If you cant afford it or are going to guilt yourself endlessly then dont buy it. Go to Liz Claiborne and buy something there instead. Let this settle it- FAKES ARE TACKY!!!!!

Cassaundra said...

i don't really think there's anything wrong with buying a knock-off. i don't condone buying a tacky, plastic looking one - but if you spend some time looking around you might be able to find something you like.

if i had a fake sitting in my closet, i wouldn't lose sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

I rather sport a bag from Target than a fake purse. First of all the embarrasment could be fatal, secondly, you do not know where your money is going once you purchase a fake bag, since there is no such thing as the "fake industry" regulation -you could be supporting the wrong group.. I am very selective with my bags, I try to buy what I can afford and even then I try to purchase "classic bags" nothing too trendy that will go out of style soon. think twice before you buy a fake..

Unknown said...

I was in your shoes a couple of months ago, however, I decided that fakes are not for me. So to your point, I believe it is a personal choice of how you want to feel in your own environment and for what purpose do you want to own a designer bag. For example, I am from Panama where very few can afford the real thing but everyone sports fake designer brands. And people is proud in general of their fakes, since they still shell out a higher amount of cash than they would have buying a no brand. I have been fortunate enough to move to the US and I currently work at a Fortune 500 comapany (actually top company, in the 13-20 range usually) and in my current environment the people I work with generally sports the real thing. Whether it is a Marc Jacobs, a Coach, an LV (fewer people, man and women), so for me wearing a fake in particular a big fake will be a big no no. But despite the environmental circumstances, I personally decided that I wouldn't buy a fake because for me buying a real purse means satisfaction. I've always have an eye for quality items, since I was a little girl I would generally walk into a store and spot the nicest item which of course was generally accompanied by the highest price tag. As I grew up, I realized I couldn't afford certain things, and really had to work hard to get where I am today. While I don't consider myself rich or millionare by US standards, I think I can everyone now and then reward my hard work with a nice quality item that will make me happy and proud. Because of this I will not buy a fake, I wouldn't feel proud of it, and it will be self concious of it all the item. This works for me, because I am more on the stylish yet classis side. This mean I will not buy the latest LV for example, just because it is the season IT bag and I have to have it. As a matter of fact there have been many models of high designers that I consider really ridiculuos and just plain ugly! However, if there is a really nice purse that I love, I would definetely shell out the cash with no regrets! ok.. ok.. I may think about world hunger and feel some level of guilt, but I usually will get over it and enjoy my product

Anonymous said...

Four reason's that made me changed my mind about buying "fakes".

1) Return Policy: When I tried to return 1 of 2 of LV piece that I changed my mind on the day after I purchased it at Nieman Marcus...they wouldn't take it back because the "leather changes color as soon as I take it out of the store." $2,000.00 purse!! I kept it and used it like 5 times.

2) Warranty: The leather part that connects the strap to the purse of the little pouchette I bought, broke off in a year of using it. LV nor Nieman's could fix it for me without a receipt. I made Nieman's look on my charge card and they fixed it for me. I think if you're going to spend so much money on a little pieace of leather, you should have longer warranty. What if I spent cash...I'd have to shell out more money for a defective product.

3)Differences: After the birth of my first child and being a SAHM, my ability to shop was very limited. And being the independent girl that I am, I hate spending other people's money (my husband mostly) on things that they may consider frivolous. To satisfy my craving for luxe brand, I decided to explore "fakes." I bought a few models that I already had just to compare them. Guess what??? They were mirror images and the quality, texture, and feeling were amazing. My feelings were more gratified than the time I spent over $5,000 on 3 pieces of LV at Saks. You kinda have to know what to look for when you are buying a fakey.

And finally reason 4. Verification of Authenticity: After I bought the fakes and compared them to each other, I decided to part with the real ones and use the money to spend on other fakes. I was attached to the real ones for sentimental reasons in that each of them was a present to myself for working so hard. Anyway, I met with each buyer at the LV stores (with the receipt) to verify Authenticity. The first purse took 3 LV associates to verify after a few minutes of head scratching. The second time for a different purse took 3 associates and a manager. If associates of LV can't identify their own product, why the heck is it so faboulous. I spent thousands of dollars on purses that took more than 2 LV associates to recognize it's their own product.

There's a few point I have to make. 1) The morality of wrong and right exists between the the designer and manufacturer.
2) We live in a capitalist society, and there's a demand for these stuff. Is it really hurting our country and the countries that supply these goods? I've only heard that it has from biased sources, i.e. the Fashion magazines, for whom I love by the way, and institutions designed to protect the best interest of Designers and their associates. Like the diamond trades, if the problem of drug trafficking and child labors is caused by the funds made off these proceeds, I think we would hear more about the immorality of the product from children advocacy groups and human rights groups that are not trying to protect the fashion industry. Protection for the people comes from the people that drives the government to make changes.

3) Fakes are good marketing for the Designers. If I really like a certain fake purse and want to have it for years and past it on to my daughter or something like that, I may think about buy the real ones when my finances permits me.

Just a thought:-)