I like to think that I have a reasonably respectable fashion sense for a girl grown in Ohio. I subscribe to Harper’s Bazaar and to Elle through one of those magazine clearinghouses that make it much less expensive to do so. Granted, I still can’t afford but maybe 1% of the items shown in each issue, and most of that stuff wouldn’t fly around here anyhow, but I have found my way around the designers’ names well enough to know when to splurge on a piece. Basically, when a respected designer does a line for Target or Kohl’s, go for it. The quality obviously won’t be the kind you can pass onto your daughters, but usually you do get at least a good facsimile of the designer’s aesthetic.
What I won’t ever do is purchase a fake. I am however in possession of one fake Coach handbag. My MIL knows someone who went to China and came back with it, and she gave it to me. I’m using the “matching” wallet, but I can’t bring myself to carry the bag. I’ll gift it (honestly, with full disclosure of its origin) to a friend eventually. Someone did make it, so even with my moral stance against fakes I won’t just throw it away. But every time I look at it, I wonder how much the person who sewed it makes in a day, a month, a year. Enough to feed their family? Doubtful. I can only hope they get paid at all, and aren’t being held against their will.
Thinking of buying a fake? Get real. The Harper’s Bazaar Fakes Are Never In Fashion™ campaign is dedicated to exposing the criminal activities connected to the sale of counterfeit luxury goods—child labor, drug trafficking, and even terrorism.
The only way to guarantee that a designer piece is authentic is to buy directly from the house’s or designer’s website, boutique/store, or through a reputable department store or authorized dealer. The quality of a fake may not always be as “off” as you’d expect, either. Simple things to look for are crooked or frayed stitching, misplaced or modified logos, scratches on metal hardware, really any defect at all. True luxury goods don’t have visible flaws. That’s the main reason why they cost so much.
Spotting a knock-off is more difficult than you may think. Use the tips below as a checklist to avoid buying a fake.
1. Location, Location, Location
First and foremost, purchasing luxury goods at a brand’s boutique, website or authorized dealer is your best bet to insure buying a genuine product. Items at flea markets, home parties, from street vendors, or unauthorized websites are likely to be fake.
2. The Price is Right
Quality and exclusivity account for the high price of luxury goods. Thus, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Construction Sites
Craftsmanship is a main point of distinction with luxury goods. Sloppy stitches in less visible areas—such as the underside of a product or inside pockets—is likely the result of counterfeit production.
4. Package Deal
Luxury retailers meticulously package their products, including tissue paper, authenticity cards, product care information, superior quality boxes, and shopping bags. If you see a plastic wrap covering or a flimsy dust bag, it’s probably a fake. For example, counterfeit manufacturers will often wrap the handles of handbags in plastic.
Counterfeiters will often misspell designer names. Check for letters that are swapped or a letter that is capitalized that shouldn’t be, and vice versa.
6. Check the Hardware
With most luxury accessories, you will find the logo on all the metal pieces, such as zippers, latches, snaps, and buckles.
7. Read the Label
In a genuine article of luxury clothing, most often the label is stitched in, whereas counterfeit clothes are likely to have a less expensive hangtag. Also, check the country of origin on the label.
8. Timely Tips
Makers of fake watches may not replicate unusual features, such as a helium relief valve. If the feature is available, often times it does not function.
Your Fake Bag notes another curious potential side effect.
The Times interprets these findings to mean that counterfeit chic is the worm in the apple — that is has, as Tatiana puts it, “a discernible corrosive effect on an individual’s morality — that, in effect, wearing an item you know to be fake is like kryptonite for your sense of right and wrong.”
Is it possible that “cheating” on designer purchases leads to or is correlated with less-than-honest behavior in other areas? I don’t know if I buy that at all, but I know that I won’t be buying fakes.