From Alessandro Michele’s fake Gucci t-shirts for Resort 2017, to counterfeit bags and shoes sold at street markets in almost every city, replica fashion is becoming increasingly popular. TikTok trends and fast fashion websites continue to promote these trends, and for someone who just wants to try them out, there are many tempting options.
Replica fashion has its pros and cons – it allows people to be a part of trends without making the commitment to high fashion products, and it has allowed creators to build entire storefronts, brands, and accounts with thousands of followers, based on counterfeit recommendations.
However, there’s so much more to this trend than what we see on 30-second videos. Replica fashion is one of the biggest contributors to fast fashion and its unethical labour practices. This includes products made with stolen designs and unsustainable materials that lead to environmental issues and therefore, changing how bigger brands are perceived.
While this isn’t a new issue, it’s one that’s growing. It’s interesting to see the impact of replica fashion on brands and how they choose to address it. Alessandro Michele designed a whole collection for Gucci with t-shirts similar to the dupes you’d find online, including a shirt that read Guccy – reflecting bazaar trends of misspelling brand names. Before that, Vetements sold “real fakes” in an official garage sale outside Seoul. Also, seeing original designs that artists probably spend hours creatively designing, styling, and planning, printed and copied onto items sold at bargain bazaars doesn’t exactly show appreciation for the process.
Even though it’s more worthwhile to buy something from a high-end store than to buy the $20 Amazon version that mimics it, sometimes it is more fun to just try out the copies. For people who like to do that, options like thrift stores, used listings and slow fashion brands with a similar creative style are ethical alternatives and don’t contribute to fast fashion. It’s still debatable whether ethics will leave as much of an impact as the online sales of fake sneakers do but until then, maybe it’s better to not give in to the temptation.