Designer clothes or walking billboard?

A recent headline in our local paper announced that a retail store in a local upscale mall had been raided by police. Apparently they were selling fake designer clothing. As I read this story I wondered if other people were struck by the same thoughts as I had.

First, the idea of paying $300 for a pair of jeans just so you can have Dolce and Gabana displayed across your butt seems ludicrous to me. The fake jeans were, according to the article, “almost indistinguishable from the real thing; you’d have to know what to look for”. Then what, exactly, are people paying the $300 for? I mean, if I can find a pair of jeans that looks the same, feels the same, wears the same and is worth less than a third of the cost – (and we know they’re all made in the same overseas sweatshops) then what is all that extra money for?

Advertising is expensive, right? And yet people willingly turn themselves into walking billboards by displaying logos on their clothing. If you knew it cost a company $5,000 to paint their logo on the side of a car, wouldn’t you feel cheated that you had to pay THEM for the privelege of wearing their logo on your personage?

Ask folks why they wear this stuff and they’ll say they want to appear fashionable, cool, as having good taste. But really, let’s be honest here. It’s a status symbol. Having a Louis Vitton purse apparently screams “I have so much money I can blow $5000 on a purse”. More likely it says “I’m so insecure that I blew $5000 I didn’t really have in order to impress people”.

What I also find interesting is that people willingly seek out designer fakes. It’s huge business all around the developed world. The better the fake, the more people want it. What this says to me is that people aren’t buying the real stuff for any other reason than to impress others and if they can find a good fake that won’t be apparent they are more than happy to don the fake item and save their money.

The headline story read as though a grievous crime had been committed. But I think the joke is on the consumers. AFAIC, anybody who is shallow enough to spend ten times the money on an article of clothing simply because of the name deserves to be fleeced if they can’t even figure out that the fake they bought is fake (after all, if it’s truly an issue of quality then shouldn’t it be obvious? I don’t know much about designers but I can hold a cheap suit next to a Zegna suit and feel right away that there’s a big difference). I also think the people making the fakes should be quietly applauded for revealing the ridiculousness of the whole designer label industry. The fact that good fakes require trained detectives to distinguish them from the real thing and the low cost of making those fakes is a blatant revelation of the fleece job consumers are subjected to by the pricing of these designer items. Those $300 jeans likely cost no more to make than the $150 fakes did (which are already marked up by about 300%).

I just can’t believe this story made headlines. Surely there is more important stuff going on in the world than this.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sheila on February 10, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    this is truly one of my pet peeves! I hate paying money to advertise for someone else.

    Reply

  2. I love designer denim but personally don’t wear the ones that have huge logos. There is a big difference in quality, the way they feel and more between the fakes and the real deal. And they do cost more to make than the fakes. Many are sanded and dyed by hand. Its not about impressing someone, its about enjoying the quality of a high end product. It’s the fakes that employ child labor in sweatshops and support terrorism in other countries.

    Reply

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  4. Posted by ruralaspirations on February 13, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    I, too, appreciate quality. It would seem, however, that most consumers don’t. Otherwise they would recognize fakes when they buy them. Which is the point of my article: the fact that fakes are so popular, so prevalent, and so many people get “fooled” just goes to show that most consumers buy this stuff out of some misguided attempt to impress others, rather than from a desire to own quality goods.

    Reply

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