These days, hyped brand name items are all the rage. Social media has made hype brands extremely influential and celebrity figures have started waves of high-end brand trends. Brands like Gucci, Vetements, Off-White, and Supreme are sought after by the working class despite their outrageous price tags.
The desire to be trendy with hype brand clothing has in return created a counterfeit culture. Not many people who want to rock Supreme can afford it, or can even find it nearby. Many countries in Asia sell knock-offs of name brand clothing because stores like Supreme aren’t found there. According to Highsnobiety’s documentary “Counterfeit Culture,” Supreme stores in Korea are nonexistent and all Supreme clothing is shipped directly from Japan at an inflated cost. Due to this, you can find fake Supreme on many streets being sold for just $25. Similar situations can be seen in other Asian countries, such as China. China is currently the largest producer of counterfeit goods (Business Insider). Their high levels of production allow for counterfeit clothing to be made and sold at extremely cheap prices. With the current consumer culture, these goods are in high demand, especially for the younger generation.
Counterfeit items in Asia are often sold out in the open, such as on busy streets and in large malls, which makes brands like Supreme not want to open stores there. Seeing that counterfeit culture is so huge deters large brands from wanting to sell in these countries and creates a cycle of buying and selling fake branded clothing. The Asian market plays a large role in the counterfeit clothing scene, however, the globalized market we live in has spread counterfeit culture worldwide.
In America, the counterfeit culture is not nearly as large, but it is still present. Brands like Gucci and Supreme are viewed as status symbols and are coveted by our generation. Although high-end brands are much more accessible here, they are still exclusive and too costly for many. This has caused a growing counterfeit culture in America. Here in LA, counterfeit clothing is being sold to those that cannot afford the designer price tag. Located as close as the Fashion District of Los Angeles, Santee Alley is well known for its large discounts and knock-off merchandise. I have visited myself and can attest that this market holds tons of counterfeit items, from fake Chanel handbags to “Gucci” belts. With bags for $20, it’s no wonder that this area is so popular.
(Photos are of UCLA second-year John Ma, who sells hype brand clothing on his own website, kinghype.us)
Although Santee Alley is popular, there is a certain stigma to buying knock-off items for many Americans. Personally, I know many people who feel like they have to get the “real” brand name items. The original is always the best, many like to think. Although in terms of quality we’d like to hope a $200 belt is better than a $5 belt, if they look the same and function the same, what is making you buy the $200 belt? It often stems from the importance we assign to name brands and high-end goods. If something is exclusive, it is sought after. You’re more special if you were able to get that supposedly sold out Supreme hoodie than the guy wearing the knock-off that looks identical.
Thus my question to our blog followers is: why and how do you let clothes assign status? What is the difference between you looking down on someone who buys a knock-off and you looking down on people who can’t afford high-end clothing?
Check out Highsnobiety’s video:
Turnage, Mark. “A Mind-Blowing Number Of Counterfeit Goods Come From China.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 25 June 2013, www.businessinsider.com/most-counterfeit-goods-are-from-china-2013-6.
“Gucci Logo.” 1000 Logos The Famous Brands and Company Logos in the World, 1000logos.net/gucci-logo/.
“Supreme Logo.” 1000 Logos The Famous Brands and Company Logos in the World,1000logos.net/supreme-logo/.
FAST Blog Team