The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Do Luxury Designers Want to be Knocked-Off?

I think luxury fashion designers want to be copied. That's right. I think they're practically begging to be knocked-off. Why else would they dangle their luxury items in the faces of so many thousands of average Jills if not to elicit lust for their products - a yearning for designer labels that could only be fulfilled by going into debt OR through the acquisition of designer-inspired or imitated goods?

Think about it: The pages of every glossy magazine are chock-full of advertisements and articles touting expensive, high-end, designer wares. But who actually reads these magazines? Well, pretty much average gals like you and me, i.e., girls without the six-figure salaries that would be necessary to afford such luxury items.

High-end luxury designers also appeal to the masses by having celebrities rocking their wares. Now I understand that they can't control who wears what, but we've all heard it said that designers literally throw their stuff at stars, giving it away for free in hopes that they'll wear it, we'll see it, and it'll be the Next Big Thing.

So why do they do it? To create demand, I suppose. To profit from lower-end diffusion and bridge lines - so-called affordable luxury items - the bread and butter of most of these giant corporations. As I see it, in order for something to be the ultimate luxury, it must be desired by the many yet obtained by only the few. (a tricky Catch-22 - the most covetable items will by their very nature be copied...but then at some point you risk losing out to the copies.)

I could go on, but instead, I offer a simple solution (which probably has countless flaws that my dear readers will no doubt point out!): To stem the tide of luxury knock-offs, counterfeits and fakes, I suggest designers take the following countermeasures:

  • Don't advertise to the masses. Ok, so this may seem wholly unrealistic in today's digital era, but they aren't even trying to keep luxury goods elusive, exclusive, and rare. Target only your audience: the luxury consumer. How hard can this be? Instead of taking out ads in InStyle, just send mailings to your actual customers. No one will see the mailings besides them (and maybe their maid).

  • Stop giving celebrities freebies. Again, I'm pretty sure that people living in Beverly Hills know where to find you. Do you really need to shamelessly promote yourself with handouts? If your product is so good, let customers come to you by word of mouth.

  • Make online luxury retailers members-only websites. Luxury items will then be largely concealed behind a simple login screen. Yes, that would exclude people like myself and make me very sad - but I can't covet what I can't see, right?

Actually, there are some designers who do do this - Ralph Rucci and Zoran come to mind. I don't think I've ever seen an ad for either one. Zoran's clothes have appeared in Neiman's catalogs on occasion, but then that publication is targeted to their customers, as you suggest.
#1 SoCalGal on 2008-04-29 22:44 (Reply)
don't agree with the last point. people don't just look at high end desires and dream, many people get ideas, and make it their own.. i can check out a fall 08 marc jacobs line, and build my wardrobe around it, getting similar pieces at lesser costs.. they set the pace, and the tone for fashion.. many middle of the line labels do the same thing.. i guess my point is there is more to these designers than what you mention.. and copying isn't just about walking around with a knock off fendi fairy bag, pretending it's the real one. it's more complex than purchasing the actual item.. it sets trends, and trend effect everyone.
#2 emily on 2008-04-30 13:59 (Reply)
I agree with Emily, in part. I read the mags to get inspiration - check out which new styles will work with my figure and which I can ignore until they fade. And rarely do I covet the original, mind-blowingly expensive item to the point of feeling deprived.

But I also see your point. And maybe designers aren't thinking, "Hey I love this piece! Can't wait to see a cheap knockoff of it for sale at Target." But perhaps, in addition to making some moolah, they are hoping to influence style trends in a more general way. Emulations and knockoffs facilitate this, since many folks will happily credit the designer they're pretending to wear. Word of mouth, subtle cultural power ... potential motivators for advertising to a demographic financially incapable of ponying up?
#3 Sal (Homepage) on 2008-05-01 13:49 (Reply)
SoCalGal: You make a good point, I'm less familiar with Ralph Rucci but Zoran definitely thinks outside the box and his creative enterprise hasn't suffered for it.

Emily & Sal: My post was meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek, and so I thank you for highlighting the complexity of fashion trends. You've both made it clear to me at least that this issue of fashion plagiarism isn't as black and white as some people make it out to be. Definitely a debate that's to be continued... :-)
#3.1 The Budget Babe on 2008-05-01 22:02 (Reply)
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