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Let’s Talk About… How Knock-Off Fashion Became Cool

August 2017Words by Mr Chris Elvidge

Photograph by The Urban Spotter/Blaublut Edition

You can question the ethics of the counterfeit market, but you can’t knock the business model. Offer consumers an expensive-looking product for less, and chances are they’re going to buy it. What’s harder to understand, though, is why anyone would pay designer prices for something that looks fake. But fashion works in mysterious ways.

One of MR PORTER’s top-selling items this year is Gucci’s “fake logo” tee, which takes its inspiration from the kind of “Gucci” you’d find in a Chinatown flea market. A bootleg of a bootleg, in other words. Elsewhere, Balenciaga has appropriated corporate iconography to create counterfeits of its very own. Look at one of this season’s key pieces, an embroidered denim jacket that riffs on – ie, rips off – the logo of US senator Mr Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

It’s not just the news that’s fake in 2017 – fashion appears to be following suit. Rather than sending a pack of lawyers after the counterfeiters, big luxury brands are beginning to realise that if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them. But what does it all mean? And what does it say about contemporary luxury? As we have done with previous trends, it’s time to apply more intellectual rigour to the topic than it really deserves. Let’s talk about it.