Why is Counterfeiting Such a Big Deal in the Fashion World?

Many people find it unusual that counterfeits, or “knock-offs” are so common in the world of fashion. For every woman you know with a Gucci handbag, there’s another woman rolling around with a “knock-off” that looks the exact same but costs a fraction of the price. Why is counterfeiting so common, and such a big deal, in the world of fashion? Today we’re digging in to that very question.

Counterfeiting: Fashion, Passion and Fakes

Faking It

Coco Chanel was famously quoted as saying, “Fashion should slip out of your hands. The very idea of protecting the seasonal arts is childish. One should not bother to protect that which dies the minute it is born”. Chanel’s own tweed suits were a common target of counterfeiting, which led to her famous comments.

However, not every fashion designer feels the same. After all, they spend a lot of time and effort creating these articles of clothing. Why should someone profit by just stealing them?

Intellectual Property

Interestingly, there are no IP protections in the world of fashion. Once you’ve created a design, anyone can claim it as “inspiration,” make an exact replica, and sell it for whatever price they deem fair. This is perfectly legally, though morally it is suspect.

There’s more going on than just IP theft, though. Most counterfeiting operations take place in China, Brazil and India, and they’re not exactly reputable businesses. When people avoid the high prices of designer labels in favor of a fake, they’re funding something pretty dark.


There’s no way to sugarcoat this. The vast majority of counterfeit manufacturers exploit child labor in horrid working conditions that are subject to nearly no oversight. Some of these manufacturers even use their profits in funding terrorism and perhaps even human trafficking and drug trade. This is what happens when there is no oversight: shadowy actors using ill-gotten gains for illicit acts.

Maybe it seems harsh when people harp on those who buy counterfeit goods. It’s just a fake bag, after all, it’s not like Prada will miss the extra money. However, people might not realize that these fake status symbols could be financing shadowy companies that funnel money into seedy business dealings.

Trust us when we say that a fake pair of shoes or fake bag simply isn’t worth the price of bankrolling one of these companies. Keep your hard-earned cash, instead, and spend it on something more sensible. Or, heck, just shell out for the real thing.