If you're looking to comment on older posts, please click on the title of the post rather than using the expand and collapse [+/-] option as comment options are only available this way.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fake Britain: The Rise of the Imitation Industry

By Susie Rushton
August 2007

These days, according to the latest research, [two-thirds of Brits are actively loving] fakes. [They] are buying them while on holiday in Europe but also in online auctions and in markets here in the UK. Research shows that [they] perceive it to be a victimless crime and that perception isn't changed by the fact that very little seems to be being done to stop it.

Even celebrities, those privileged beings who are routinely loaned hot-off-the-catwalk looks for free by fashion houses, are now admitting to buying fake designer accessories. The actress Renée Zellwegger has said that she bought a counterfeit bag in Hong Kong. She may not be the pinnacle of chic but when multi-millionairess Britney Spears carries a pale-pink fake Chanel bag, tweens everywhere get the message that cheating the luxury goods houses is cool.

Britney Spears spotted carrying another fake Chanel purse and lovin' it

This is a potentially disastrous turn of events for companies that trade on their aura of exclusivity and carefully nurtured relationships with Hollywood stars. No wonder that brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel (which, with Burberry, are the most copied) are fighting back on the A-list front. When Courtney Love was photographed at a party earlier this year wearing a fake Chanel dress, the fashion house was said to be incensed. In this month's US Harper's Bazaar, Love does penance, posing with jewellery just covering her nipples over the headline, "I'd rather go naked than wear fake". Love claims she wore the copycat Chanel "inadvertently" . If so, she would be rather more gullible than the rest of us.

The reason Chanel et al have a problem with forgeries is that there is such a huge demand for them. More than ever, [the Brits] are buying fake goods, knowing that they are fake – and not giving a damn. They are put off neither by the loss to those brands' businesses nor – apparently – by any thought of the organised crime that inevitably props up a global trade worth as much as $200bn each year. And as the standard of those fakes improves, no longer is poor quality such a big issue for buyers.

While a minority will always prefer to know that they own and carry the real thing, there is a growing group who will buy both fake and authentic luxury goods. It's a misconception these days to think that the woman who carries an ersatz Louis Vuitton Monogram or Chloé Paddington bag is a young, low-income consumer who can't afford authentic goods. According to a new study by the law firm Davenport Lyons, two thirds of those who buy counterfeit watches, handbags and clothes also buy genuine designer goods. In demographic terms, there is very little to distinguish the fake-buyer from the genuine-only buyer.

And increasingly, [the Brits] are openly confessing that [their] Gucci watch or Mulberry bag isn't the real thing. Researchers say that up to two thirds of [them] are happy to admit they buy fake goods – an increase of 20 per cent on last year. As the global trade booms, an even wider range of spurious items gets shipped across borders, with piracy affecting not just luxury goods but even everyday items such as toothpaste, toys and batteries.

Is fakery losing its stigma and, particularly in the realms of image and self-presentation, even becoming a kind of status symbol? And if authenticity has become strictly optional, into which other realms of culture will that attitude spread?

For a full report on the 'Fake Britain: The Rise of the Imitation Industry' story, click here

0 Fetishes Unleashed!: