I love that designer bag, but I can’t afford it. So do I buy a counterfeit?

Fake Burberry, from iacc.org

Fake Burberry handbag courtesy iacc.org

There’s much to love about designer handbags. But not all of us want to spend the price of a genuine designer’s product, even at resale or consignment shop prices. So the question:

Is it okay to buy a counterfeit just to look like you have “the real thing”?

Or should you opt, instead, for a bag whose shape and color and “look” are simply similar to the designer bag you wish you could buy?

Where’s the line between a “replica” and a purse that’s “inspired by”?

Replica, knockoff, fake, faux, counterfeit: These are the terms used to identify a handbag (scarf, shoes, sunglasses and so on) that’s made to fool the purchaser (or, actually, the onlooker) into thinking she’s getting the cachet or quality of a designer bag without the market price of the real thing… and of course, without recompense to the original designer.

Designer-inspired: I like to call these “market-driven.” A “designer-inspired” bag which uses the attributes of designer bags that consumers crave, without trying to use the reputation of the designer as a selling point for their product. Example: The perennially-popular Speedy bag by Louis Vuitton has been popular for so long because the shape, the length of the handles, and the material appeals to fashion shoppers. Many handbags on the market have these same characteristics. They look like, have been inspired by, a LV Speedy, but do not try to fool anyone into thinking they’re made by Louis Vuitton. Ethical manufacturers don’t market their bag as “designer-inspired”, but allow their creations to stand on their own style, utility, quality and price point.

The resale industry organization, NARTS, is especially concerned about fakes being sold as though they were “real” designer bags, and has an excellent article on the whole issue of counterfeiting on The Facts on Fakes. Resources for determining if a bag is a fake is on Too Good to be Threw’s Links Page.

Thanks to this blog for the inspiration for this post.

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