Designer labels can be alluring as heck, but they're also expensive as heck.
The price of a designer handbag can reach far into the thousands of dollars, which for most people, is out of the question.
Unless you have, you know, like a fetish for credit card debt.
Okay, I'm kinda judging.
Those who can't resist the call, will sometimes turn to counterfeit designer goods as a solution.
Maybe the stitching's not straight, maybe the logo's a little off, but from far away who can tell the difference?
Plus it was only 30 bucks.
Can you believe?
Recently, during one of my descents into the dark depths of the internet.
I noticed a lot of people discussing this issue with like a lot of passion.
I decided to dive deeper, not only into the ethics of purchasing counterfeit goods, but also the trend of copying and stealing designs across the fashion industry.
I think designer stuff, designer apparel, is great.
I think that knock off ones are sometimes dope, too.
I mean, people buy them and it's just another source of making money.
It is, like, stealing, right?
I mean, at the end of the day, I guess copying someone else's work is an immoral thing.
As a consumer, I don't really care as much.
You don't know where you're getting them from, like, you don't know who's making them, you don't know if the people who are making them are getting paid enough.
I think it's a little dodgy.
It like does make these high end brands accessible to people who wouldn't be able to afford a $4,000 handbag.
From a consumer standpoint, it doesn't matter to me whether you have a fake designer good or not, but I think ethically, it's probably wrong.
Growing up in Memphis, there was a place called Third Street and they would sell like fake Jordans, fake designer bags, like fake everything.
They would always get roasted at school, so where I'm from, that's frowned upon.
You don't have to pretend.
Like, I feel like that's my biggest thing with it.
Like, go to Forever 21 like I do.
You can still be a bad bitch, I support it.
Okay, so it seems people have a variety of opinions.
The most common argument against that I've seen is that counterfeits are stealing.
Some argue that fashion is art, and copying designs is theft.
Those in favor argue that the markets aren't the same.
Whoever is buying counterfeit goods knowingly would never buy the high end version.
So they're not necessarily stealing any potential business.
I could see both angles.
So, I wondered, Well, let's find out.
Turns out, counterfeiting goods is often intertwined with other, more illicit, crimes.
According to a fact sheet published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the business of counterfeit goods has been linked to illicit drugs, corruption, and money laundering.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated that imported fake goods around the world were worth $461 billion in 2013.
Though footwear is the most copied type of item, medicine, automotive parts, and electronics are also counterfeited.
And what's more, the money used to purchase these goods can support like criminal activity.
In his TED Talk, counterfeit investigator Alastair Gray says there is even a significant link between the purchasing of counterfeit goods and terrorism.
Fake products are sometimes more profitable to sell than drugs with a potentially smaller risk of penalties.
That is a pretty good scheme.
Who knew buying a fake Gucci could be so intense?
Well, researchers and police, turns out.
Okay, so don't buy fake designer goods from criminals.
But what about when big name, fast fashion retailers copy designs?
Forever 21 has faced numerous lawsuits from big names like Gucci, Diane von Furstenberg, Puma, Anna Sui, Adidas, et cetera, for selling nearly similar designs.
Why would they even need to file lawsuits you ask?
Why is this even a question?
Business Insider provides an explanation, stating that by nature, fashion items serve a purpose which means they are exempt from copyright laws.
The article goes on to include a quote from Dwayne Morris Law Firm partner, Chris John Campbell who says, "to be protectable by copyright, an item cannot be functional... The argument has always been that fashion is not protectable."
You, probably like me, had never heard this before.
Because something that is utilitarian and functional cannot be copyrighted, it makes sense why different types of clothing are typically not considered to need copyright protection.
After all, the basic purpose of clothing is to prevent people from being naked, to keep us warm, et cetera.
However, when part of a design is independent of its function, for example, a decorative belt buckle, it can theoretical be protected by copyright.
And while it's difficult for normal folks to have much of a stake when one giant company is fighting another giant company over stripes on a jacket, these thefts have set a dangerous precedent.
Smaller artists and retailers have been the victim of similar thefts.
And they don't always have the resources to fight these companies effectively.
Most people I spoke to thought it was okay to buy copied designs if they were copied from a large company, but not from a smaller, less established artist or brand.
A creation is a creation, isn't it?
We don't look at fashion the same way we do say "ART".
Wearing fashion is, for some people, an expression of oneself.
So, to me, it seems like designers are really selling art.
We'd all like a Van Gogh in our house.
But that's asking a lot.
So, you buy a print.
Of course, those are licensed.
A fast fashion house that makes a cheap version of a designer jacket is not likely to have that kind of arrangement.
No matter what stance you're taking on this issue, it's important to make decisions with your money and your life while backed by information.
I recommend researching what you're buying, who you're buying it from, and where your money will go.
What you do does have an effect on the rest of the world and that effect can be positive or negative.
Just, you know, use your brain.
I know you got a good one sitting up there in your skull all wrinkly and gray, like a saggy elephant.