CHANEL, VERSACE, DOLCE & GABBANA, VUITTON, GUCCI, DIOR, FENDI, PRADA, COACH, MARC JACOBS et al
As the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, these are the brand-name clothing and fashion accessories that women will expect. But with the average cost of these items ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, how can the average woman afford these at all?
Add to the mix the celebrity endorsements. Paris Hilton wears CHANEL sunglasses, Jessica Simpson totes a VUITTON Speedy bag, Jennifer Lopez wears a DOLCE & GABBANA dress. “What’s Jennifer Aniston got on?” “Oooh what’s Madonna wearing?” Stars don’t have to worry about scrimping and saving to buy high-priced designer items; in most cases they don’t even have to pay anything, the companies freely give them the merchandise. Designers know that just having their products displayed by pop icons translates into millions of dollars in increased sales.
The celebrities are having a fashion party to which the average working woman is not invited.
So what is a woman of modest means to do?
Enter the knock-off. The fashion industry has created a need that the replica industry fulfills, designer clothing and accessories within the reach of the middle class budget.
By pricing their wares in the stratosphere, designers are essentially causing the knock-off market to thrive. Women see these must have fashion accessories in magazines like VOGUE and ELLE and want them. But when a handbag costs what the average middle class woman makes in a year, what choice does she have? She can’t afford the real thing so she buys a copy, much the same way that an art lover who desires a Picasso will hang a lithograph on his wall.
Each day on Canal Street in New York City, tour buses deliver scores of consumers who descend like vultures upon the rows of merchants who sell designer look-alikes. At the behest of the above mentioned designer corporations, the NYPD is constantly shutting down sellers and confiscating their merchandise, forcing these vendors underground as they try to keep up with the insatiable demand for replicas. Commenting on the public’s maniacal desire to own designer accessories, Tommy Y. a 20 something vendor sagely notes “We make them famous, and then they arrest us.”
The real irony comes when the fashion giant out sources the manufacture of their product to the very same company in China that is producing the copies. If the item is made by the same factory, how does one apply the “genuine” rule? Genuine as in “sanctioned by the manufacturer”?
A great deal of the blame must be placed squarely on the shoulders of the designers themselves. How can they justify such outrageous prices? VUITTON has a leather coin purse that sells for $275! MARC JACOBS has a $9,995 tote bag! HERMES’ bags start at $5,000 and rise steadily from there. CHANEL sunglasses average $300 per pair, non-prescription! Regardless of how loudly these companies cry foul, and hide behind trademark infringement laws, it’s all too obvious that they are greedily profiting from their media generated envy.