The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

A Primer On Designer Knock-Offs and The Law

One of The Budget Babe's favorite pastimes is hunting for what everyone calls "designer looks for less"—but more and more these days, we're finding exact copies of designer looks...and it certainly makes you wonder: How do these copycats get away with this? Aren't there laws against this kind of stuff?

Copies of this $369 dress by Tibi (at left) turned up at retailers Forever 21, Mandee and Strawberry for as little as $10.99.

Well, we did a little research and found our answers at The blog's author, Susan Scafidi, is a law school professor and well-versed in the arena of fashion & fakes. Here are her easily digestible answers to some of our most burning questions regarding designer looks-alikes and the law...Read on!!

1. Doesn’t intellectual property law protect fashion?
2. Counterfeits, knock-offs, replicas, copies, high street versions – what’s the difference?
3. If counterfeit handbags, sunglasses, DVDs, etc. are illegal, why are they so easy to find online and on the street?

what a cute dress for 10.99! i like it better than the pricy designer one. more flattering.
i sure didn't see it at my local 'forever 21.' do they sell online?
#1 maggie z on 2007-07-09 14:42 (Reply)
The thing about these designer "replicas" is that they go FAST--including the one featured above (sorry!!). We've seen items sell out in one day on If you love a particular look but missed the boat, your best bet is ebay, but don't expect a bargain--we've seen replicas of a popular Foley and Corinna floor-length dress going for as much as $195 on ebay which originally sold for under $30 at Forever21.
#1.1 The Budget Babe on 2007-07-09 16:01 (Reply)
I'd never buy a genuine designer garment purely because people would assume it's a copy or "look-a-like". Certainly that's what I assume about other people.

#2 April Kerr (Homepage) on 2007-07-10 11:22 (Reply)
True, when we see someone carrying a purse that we know has a 2-year-long waiting list, or was one of say, 50 purses made in that style worldwide, best believe they're not fooling anyone (if that's their aim!).
#2.1 The Budget Babe on 2007-07-10 23:43 (Reply)
I was so overwhelmed by this in Italy!!! Not only was every woman on the bus carrying a fake (if you can buy a suitcase sized Prada, I doubt you'd be on the bus... and there'd be 20 of you... lol) but the fakes on the street were being sold by people who clearly were not from that country... sad! Not to mention it just doesn't look like you have fashion sense if the best you can do is copy the crowd!
#3 Chantal on 2007-07-11 11:01 (Reply)
Good point, ma cherie!
This is where the French excel. They know how to improvise with a little imagination, to take something that is fashionable and add their own touch, creating a personalized style. One of my favorite looks this spring in France was worn by bistro waitresses. It's the full cotton skirt with a fitted 3/4 sleeve blouse. think juliette binoche in "chocolat". but add laced up puma-like flats for comfort. comfort and style, combined with a sense of fun with the tribute to the 50's.
#3.1 Fifi LaMode on 2007-07-11 11:31 (Reply)
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