Fashion Advice: The Great Fake Debate Continues

Q: How do you buy a knock-off hand bag? What are your guidelines, what are smart prices to pay? What is important to look for? I want to be able to have nice handbags but not be broke because of them!

A: There has been quite a bit of debate regarding knock-off bags (especially fake Louis Vuitton handbags) and the impact these bags have had on the fashion industry. Exact duplicates are not fair to the designers, period. Imagine spending years perfecting your art and name, only to have some steal your idea and sell it for well below market value. However, using elements of a popular design is nothing new in fashion. Every major and minor design house “borrows” design elements from other fashion designers and lower priced stores like H&M often sell items using a design made popular by more expensive designers (I call it “designer inspired” items). The difference between “knock-offs” and “designer inspired versions”, that the designer inspired versions don’t claim to be the real thing.

When looking to buy a knock-off you have to ask yourself, do I want it because the celebrity of the moment has it or do I want it because I truly like the designer and the bag. If the later is your answer, skip the rest of this article and save your pennies (nickels, dimes,) to purchase a real bag. However, if the reason why you want it is because Nicole Ritchie, Lindsay Lohan, or whatever celebrity of the moment has the bag, then I suggest you really think about why you’re buying the item (and why you feel the need to emulate an idea that isn’t real in the first place—celebrities often get those items for free). Buying a designer bag isn’t going to make you Jessica Simpson.

If it is quality you want—rarely are knock-offs good quality—then look for high quality, mid-priced bags from designers like Coach, Hype, Kenneth Cole, Donna Karan, Cole Haan, etc. You’ll find these bags for up 75% off at stores like Nordstrom’s Rack, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and their outlet stores.  Furthermore, designer label doesn’t always equal quality.  For example, a very famous designer makes a nylon bag that just because it has its label on it retails for over $300. You could buy the same bag, same quality for around $30 at your local T.J. Maxx.

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    Catherine Brock

    As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine,, Refinery29, and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

    Blog Comments

    Sounds an awful lot like Kate Spade.  🙂

    I never pay more than £ 25 for a hand bag, still I have a nice collection for every occasion, I spend more on clothes and cosmetic, and get cheap accessories

    No, No. Buy inexpensive clothes (on sale) and really GOOD accesories!!! A fab necklace that you will wear again and again, but paid a bit more for,  will make a sale blouse look expensive.

    If I cannot afford it, I’d rather buy some other affordable brand than buy the fake big one.. as for me: buying a fake brand is like faking orgasm…

    please do NOT buy a knockoff! or if you do, get a really, really GOOD ONE! Why? well, why do you want a designer bag? is it so that people will look at you and go, hey look at her desigener bag, she looks good? whatever the reason, anyone who knows enough to be impresed will also probably know enough to figure out its a fake. and also, if you dont have the right wardrobe to go with the bag, the bag just looks tacky.

    I’m so proud of the $5 bag I bought from a local designer…  May not be a recognizable brand, but it serves its purpose!

    I have “real” designer bags in my closet, but the one that gets the most compliments is a designer inspired bag that I bought last fall.  Everyone stops me even guys because the bag is so unique.  Best of all it cost less than $40.

    It was mentioned how elements of a design can be copied and sold for less. You are very right. Many, many years ago when I had a summer job in a sewing factor (saving for college). Calvin Klein jean had just come out and were all the rage. The owner of the sewing factory went to New York and bought a couple of pair, of course they fit his wife, and brough on pair into the design department. I was at the time helping in the department. I watched as the chief cutter and the owner taked about using the basic style, but changing certain elements. The know off look really good, but because of certain changes they look CK, but on closer inspection they weren’t. That was my first exposure to kock off and what to look for.

    I would buy fake in a heartbeat. Why not? I am so not going to drop the money for an authentic designer purse that I can’t afford.

    I wouldve bought the jeans. Who cares?! But bags, I always buy real bags. Gotta have good accessories!

    I would like to make two points regarding the Great Fake Debate, and I hope this time my post makes it to the discussion board. I waited a week on my last post and never saw it appear. I believe I have a perspective to share that really hasn

    i love this bags .!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can spot a fake anything a mile away. There’s no such thing as a quality fake.I think most people do this because they want people to think they’re someone they aren’t. These people are PATHETIC!! This includes people who purchase certain products to “keep up with the Jones’s”. And because of this they’re up to they’re eyeballs in debt. I know that everything I purchase is authentic. I only purchase items from the designer’s shop. Quality pays off in the long run. I have a pair of Gucci loafers that are 11 years old. I haven’t even had to replace the soles. A Kate Spade bag that is five years old and I just bought a new one. You can never fail with Chanel, Hermes, Tiffany, and classic Coach (now brought back by popular demand). I have classics that are twenty years old, and look new. I could go on. I’m not rich. I own a house, a car and have no credit card debt. Save your money to buy these products. It’ll help you master money management. I’ve done this since I was 11 years old. When you figure out how much you’d pay to replace an inferior product over just a one year period, you’re getting a deal when you purchase real. And when you purchase the real thing, buy a classic that will never go out of style. I probably buy one CLASSIC designer item every year. Be authentic. Be who YOU truely are. People know when you’re faking in every part of your life. This loses you credibilty. There are women I work with who buy fake. They never get promoted. Because people of quality recognise other people of quality, and that has nothing to do with how much money you make. There’s a women in my office who sews most of her clothes and only buys well tailored classics. She’s going places. You’re a liar when you purchase a fake. Would you promote a liar?

    Re: “SewYourOwn”‘s comment…Yay You!!! You are on HIT!! I couldn’t have said it better myself!! Awesome comment and thanks for sharing!

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