Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fashion Ethics Dilemma

(And I don't just mean whether you can wear white after Labor Day - you can, obviously.)

Today I went to Shenzen. This was my FIRST TIME IN CHINA!!! Although really, Shenzen is just like being in another Hong Kong mall except instead of toilets you get holes. Jodee and I actually held it for 7.5 hours while we shopped until we got back to the Hong Kong side of the border.

Shenzen was the first of China's Special Economic Zone (SEZ), stemming from Deng Xiaoping's reforms/"capitalism with Chinese characteristics." Since it's selection in 1980 to be an SEZ, it has been the fastest growing city in China, meaning there are EVEN MORE shopping centers than I've gotten used to in Hong Kong.

Jodee and I only made it through one mall, the one closest to the border we arrived at. It reminded me a lot of Itaewon in Seoul, except a bit dirtier. There were stalls and stalls of vendors and hallways and hallways of stalls throughout this mall building, selling everything from pirated DVDs, "copy" designer bags, cheap clothes, designer clothes, fabric, tailoring services, spa services, etc. I ended up leaving with a USB drive (32GB for $15US), a few sweaters and dresses ($7-15US), a DVF wrap dress ($60US), an amazing chiffon blouse for work/play ($30US) and 2 Burberry outfits for Dena & Irulan's baby girls (total $30US).

Which leads me to my dilemma - fake it or don't fake it? I have no problem faking it with Burberry infant wear, because I think it's ridiculous to even produce that seriously, but what about the bags...? They had really nice ones... MJ, my fave... and LV, which I just haven't been able to justify paying the price for since the shapes are so... middling.

On the one hand (let's call it the "right" hand) I don't think it's ok to make fakes, and on the other hand I want more bags than I can afford, particularly right now. But why is it that I don't think it's ok to make fakes? Mostly because I don't want the bags I paid dearly for to lose their status - is this really an ethical reason? Pure IP is also issue, because I do believe in the superior design and quality of the designer bags I purchase and covet (note that not all designer bags fall into this category, I'd like to think I actually do make decisions based on design and quality in addition to my brand whore-ishness) but the fact is these bags aren't perfect replicas, they are, as the salespeople clarified, "copies." Meaning a knowledgeable person could probably tell by looking and touching that they were not real - especially if they looked inside. And most label whores, like myself, would look for those signs when seeing a designer bag, and would therefore not have the same respect for the person carrying the fake. Which means someone with the real thing (I still fall in this category for the moment...) loses no status due to these "copies."

So the real reason I'm not buying a "copy" bag, I realize now, is that I don't want to be spotted as the carrier of a fake. Hmm... That sounds even more shallow than buying a $2,500US bag for the status I think it gives me.

So I put it to my readers - all 9 of you! - "copy" cream/luggage brown MJ by MJ clutch or not? (Keep in mind it is $30US and could also be chalked up to economic stimulus spending.)

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, an interesting dilemma for sure. So here are a few thoughts I have on the topic:

    1) I am honored and excited to be the first person to comment on this topic. It makes me feel like I am opening the debate or something. I realize this is completely a side-note and therefore should be my last point, but I'm writing first so it's my Bobby Brown prerogative to do what I want.

    2) Spending $2,500 on a bag seems like a LOAD of money, almost justifying the need for copies in itself. I'd love to know the markups on something like that. Wow.

    3) As annoying as those markups are, I don't think it justifies buying least it doesn't give justification to say buying fakes is fine. Because if you start down that road, you could counter it with a lot of arguments about the legalishness (yes, legalishness) of fakes, of which there are probably none (it promotes stealing, illegal child labor, and all that other bad stuff).

    4) I guess the justification in this issue is pretty important. If you're justifying buying fake Burberry baby clothes because it is ridiculous that they make Burberry baby clothes to begin with (what if we call them Fauxberry--that sounds funny--i just made that up, but I bet a significant portion of the "readership" here has been calling it that for years. damm.), you could probably make a stronger argument for just buying Gap baby clothes and therefore supporting someone who is making baby clothes that are more reasonably priced. I guess you're not making the same justification about an LV bag. Instead, you're more concerned with whether the fact that you are a student and can't pay $2,500 for a bag right now justifies buying a $30 one.

    5) Given the legalishness of buying Fauxberry and others that I mentioned earlier, I guess I fall on the side of don't buy it. Instead, enjoy the really nice ones you have and look down diminutively at those that wear fakes. I tend towards the "buy less but buy better" side of the argument anyhow.

    6) I bet point 5 was exactly the opposite of what you wanted to hear, because if you follow that advice then you can't buy the FauxJacobs clutch you were eyeing at the market today. Let's be honest, you put this call for feedback out to hopefully give you justification for further shopping, didn't you. :)

    7) Sorry for being ridiculously long. Obviously I am jealous of your great blogs and want to have one of my own, but since I haven't taken the time to create one I am instead living/writing vicariously through yours.

    8) Hey, if you see any REALLY cheap LV overnight bags, grab one for me. OK?

    9) Just kidding on point number 8.