Courtesy of Twinset
Designer dupes are nothing new. Copies of high fashion pieces have been around for a long time, but it's fair to say that in this social media age, high street stores have been increasingly inspired to create runway lookalikes. Not only are designer brands using these social media apps to their marketing advantage, but Twitter and Instagram influencers have heightened the general public's recognition of designers and the pieces they put out, incentivizing clothes retailers to recreate those designer pieces at a much smaller price to meet increased demand.
The best example here is the rise of the Gucci belt or Gucci loafers. Over the past couple of years, Instagram stars have massively popularized these pieces into becoming staples for their followers' wardrobes. This is where regular stores, such as H&M, have caught on to make dupes, allowing fans of these trends to pull off the exact look without the Gucci price tag. Of course, these copies have never been 100% identical to their designer counterparts, allowing us to easily identify which is designer and which is high street, and showing that people are only trying to achieve the Gucci look. The thing is, with inspired pieces like these, it was never really a question of real or fake because as stated, these are INSPIRED pieces, simply drawing vision from the runway. However, not everyone knows this. Here is where the Gucci belt and loafer example becomes insignificant because social media has meant that pretty much everyone who's ever used the internet knows what Gucci is. But high street retailers have been just as good at copying other designer brands, ones not so easily recognizable by the general population, in this case, 'general' meaning people with no true knowledge or interest of high fashion.
A family friend went to Thailand for a week, and during her time there, shopped around the local stores and markets. She brought me back a plain black Giorgio Armani t-shirt, with the words 'Giorgio Armani', as well as the logo, printed on the front. I'm fully aware it's a fake, and truthfully I don't care. This came from a local clothes retailer who's probably just trying to make a living but isn't passing the designs off as their own. Instead, they probably want people to believe he/she is selling an original Giorgio Armani product. Last month, I was browsing through shoes on the River Island website and came across pretty much identical copies of the green snake heels put out by Alessandro Michele for Gucci. River Island is a multinational high street brand. They're not just a market seller in a tourist town, selling t-shirts that are not being passed off as their own, trying to make a decent living. So why is it that River Island, who's supposed to have its own designers, gets away with ripping off other brands' ideas as if they were their own?
Gucci River Island
Understand that the case of designer fakes is different from that of designer dupes. Creators of designer fakes are purposely trying to make the piece appear as that of the designer so that the buyer believes, or at least can pull off the illusion, that it does actually belong to that brand. With dupes, however, creators are essentially passing off the product as their own, because it's never entirely similar to the designer piece, and so it will have any non-fashion-enthusiast believing the retailer came up with the idea. So yes, maybe Dune's interpretation of the signature Valentino heel, also sold in department stores such as House of Fraser, is not 100% identical to that of the Italian house, but it will have anyone unfamiliar with Valentino crediting Dune for its creation.
This doesn't mean that wearing designer dupes is a bad thing. Anyone who has even the slightest love for fashion wants their outfit to look as good as the one on the runway. But shouldn't multinational clothes retailers make it clear that they're drawing inspiration from high fashion designers when it comes to some specific pieces? Credit should be given where credit is due.