Fashion houses are changing the counterfeit stigma with their designs.

By Emma Kahmann.

In 2010, a celebrity would likely have been blacklisted for wearing a counterfeit designer good, but as 2021 welcomes us, luxury designer brands have embraced the modern appeal of a boot-legged look. Millennials have made careers out of customizing iconic logos into new, original works. There is a draw for a new layer for authenticity in fashion, one that a real Dior bag could arguably never hold, and designer fashion brands are up for the challenge.

Young consumers have made a trend of thrifting and customizing their finds. Because thrift stores house recycled clothing, vintage pieces make their way into many closets. At the heart of Y2k fashion is Dapper Dan, a New York native and fashion designer who introduced hip-hop to the fashion industry in the ’80s and ’90s. With no previous design education, Dapper Dan bootlegged designer fabrics to teach himself about textile printing. His custom, counterfeit, pieces drew a lot of traction in the hip-hop industry, but designer labels weren’t so thrilled: Fendi sued Dapper Dan in 1992 for copyright infringement.

As thrifting and customizing became more popular, Dapper Dan’s designs became more relevant. In 2017, social media users criticized Gucci for featuring a strikingly similar jacket to one by Dan as part of its Cruise 2018 collection. While the brand never credited the original designer to Dapper Dan, a Gucci spokesperson said they had reached out to the designer, and offered to do a collection that would celebrate his influence on hip-hop culture and fashion. Since then, he has collaborated numerous times with Gucci, later opening the first luxury house fashion store in Harlem in partnership with the Italian brand.

Luxury brands recognize the appeal counterfeit logos have become to streetwear fanatics over the past few years. In 2017, Marc Jacobs collaborated with Ava Niuri, a bootleg designer known for turning the Champion hoodie’s iconic “C” into a Gucci logo; the result was a sweatshirt with “Marc Jacobes” in a handwritten-style font, to play into the fake-designer fad. Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2020 collection revealed pieces with the word “FAKE” plastered in bold red across the items. Even Ikea, a furniture retailer, is trying to appeal to the customization trend by selling bucket hats they reworked from their famous bags.

The trend of designers counterfeiting and customizing their own products suggests that the branding may not be as relevant as the authenticity and creativity behind it. Personality influences the biggest part of a person’s fashion statement these days, and fashion houses will continue to produce pieces that inspire this trend. Although, thrifting a fake piece might be more fun, and cheaper.

Image credit: Pexels