Fake Fashion | The Cost of Counterfeiting

30 March 2013

Counterfeiting is a hugely successful industry, especially in the current economic climate where affordable luxury seams almost absurdly unobtainable. Low cost, high demand markets like this thrive on people's bi-polar obsession with spending as well as saving. The most prominent counterfeiting examples include fashion, electronics and cosmetics.

The fashion industry is more or less dictated by trends; current, past and future. What's hot and what's not. As a result, this puts pressure on the fashion forward to keep up with the industry in order to prove their knowledge of and loyalty to the fashion industry. Combine this with 21st century self-worth degradation (especially amongst women) and you get an unstoppable industry. Being predominantly image-based, shopping-savvy fashion consumers will hunt for the perfect balance between trend and price. This is where counterfeiting comes in.

The most coveted fashion pieces are often the most expensive, as often desire correlates with price (see the rising value of the Chanel 2.55). It's not often you come across someone who's lifelong dream is to own a Nissan Micra (no offence Nissan) or a Primark blouse (no offence Primark). The fashion concious long to afford Christian Louboutin, Hermes or rare pieces such as the discontinued Chanel 2.55 original jumbo not maxi handbag with the large clasp not small, or a Louis Vuitton handbag that Audrey Hepburn's friend's sister's dog's puppy pee'd on in that one film in the 70s that got a rating of 3.4 on IMDB. Basically, the more unobtainable and uncommon, the more desirable. However, our dream purchases often increase in unattainability as we get older because we become concious that we're running out of time, especially when we compare ourselves to those similar to ourselves, who have already found a dog pee bag. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that more people are buying counterfeit designer goods than ever.

Firstly, let me outline the difference between designer-inspired and counterfeit. Designer-inspired pieces take influence from luxury brands and mimic the aesthetics in a take of their own. For this example, let's take one of the most influential designer pieces of the moment, the pioneer of the winged handbag; Céline which happens to be a current favourite to copy with an abundance of counterfeit Céline t-shirts currently gracing eBay and the blogging community. Counterfeits are pieces that claim to or suggest that they have been created by a luxury brand when they have not, with the biggest tell-tale sign being logo branding. They're not all cheap and poorly made either, with 'A+++' grade genuine leather replicas being sold for hundreds of pounds. It's also important to note that counterfeiting is not restricted to luxury high-end brands either, especially in the cosmetics industry where brands such as L'Oreal and Maybelline are imitated, as well as mid-market brands in the fashion industry such as Fred Perry.

I have never been too phased about counterfeit goods other than cosmetics, because they were the goods that put consumers directly at harm. I used to say "Fake MAC can blind you but fake Chanel can't." Saying that, I was very particular with non-cosmetic counterfeits (mainly handbags) and previously believed that if you were going to fake it, fake it well or you'll be harming the reputation of the luxury brands. I couldn't stand the sight of mis-shaped fleurs de lis on a Louisa Vuitton or a flimsy-looking Shanel. I supported the trading of replicas within reason because I assumed that the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace were all filthy rich already, they wouldn't miss a couple thousand pounds which they would otherwise spend on extravagant cat food laced in diamonds (much to the cat's demise). It had never occurred to me that other people were being harmed, albeit not necessarily in a physical way as likened to the counterfeit cosmetics industry.

Drapers recently reported that counterfeits cost the Europeon fashion industry £5 billion each year and an overall of 400,000 jobs have been permanently lost in the past 20 years, as a result and that's in the UK alone. Throughout developed countries, the number rises to 2.5 million which is roughly 19,000 jobs a year. The World Customs Organisation reported that 7% of the world's trade and approximately 10% of the fashion trade is counterfeit with a massive 22% knowingly buying counterfeit products. Costs to the industry include reputation management, legal action, infringement, brand value and of course job losses.

I do own a few authentic handbags as pictured above but admittedly, I own more counterfeit handbags. However, I don't contribute to the 22% who have knowingly purchased these goods. I have obtained these goods through swishing or have been given them through my clueless mother who represents the 31% of UK consumers who have unknowingly purchased counterfeit goods. The main reason people give into the temptation of purchasing replicas is to have the feel and look of luxury without the luxury price tag. However, this is often a flawed as it is incredibly rare to find a counterfeit product that offers just that and in the unlikely chance you do, you would have to either live with the lie that you're carrying a fake or embarrassingly reveal the truth and consequently the emptiness of your bank balance when somebody musters up the courage to ask its authenticity. For these reasons, I have never been able to carry a fake outside my own home. I can't bare to lie nor can I bare to admit how poor I am, so I just don't. I have done a lot of research in the past on the subject of spotting fakes, from Fred Perry to Vivienne Westwood to Chanel and I can only assume that other women have done so too. So to avoid the paranoia of scrutiny that may come with carrying a counterfeit handbag, I have simply stopped looking for them. And from this, comes my pet-peeve of fake-fashion liars. Those who clearly have counterfeit items but act as if they are real in order to enhance the appearance of wealth.

The trouble with mass replication especially within the music industry, is that we soon grow accustomed to it. Music trends such as auto-tuning and dubstep come and go, and much like the over-playing of songs (I'm looking at you, Gotye), the novelty and initial attraction soon wears off. This is the same for designer replicas, remember the Mulberry Alexa bag? The abundance of this design has made it less appealing to people, as it is now perceived as a 'common' piece and has almost no exclusivity any more. Remember, people want what is unobtainable and uncommon.

So should we stop?

What about all the manufacturing jobs that have been created in order to fulfil the increasing demand for fake fashion? What if you didn't know your bag was a fake and just liked the look of it? There is a fine line between designer-inspired and fake, and it is almost undetectable at times. Apple have sued a number of companies for a number of things, things that some would class as an obvious 'imitation' and some as 'inspired'. And what do we do with existing replica goods? Do we throw them away even though we've spent our hard-earned money on them? How do we avoid ever buying counterfeits in the future when imitation goods are becoming more and more convincing? I know for a fact that it's near impossible to check that every single thing you buy isn't fake. Take the horse meat scandal; all this time our beef has been fake and we were non the wiser.

The world thrives on faking it. Human beings are greedy; we want more money, more food, more luxuries. It is programmed within us to be greedy. Survival of the fittest has developed from hunting for food in the stone age, to hunting for bargains in the modern day. We're obsessed with statuses and labels, and sometimes we're too ignorant to even care about the consequences of our actions. Take the counterfeit cosmetics industry, you'll be surprised how many people know that fake MAC has non-approved (sometimes lead) ingredients in them that may permanently blind you, yet still choose to buy it because they want the reassurance and acceptance of owning something that has the letters 'M', 'A' and 'C' on it.

The ethical issues we would associate with counterfeiting like child labour and exploitation may also apply to the non-counterfeit industry. It is no secret that high-street stores such as Primark and Topshop exploit labour in the Far East but you don't ever see statistics and public reports about it.

I've learnt from reading Drapers and The Business of Fashion how hard and far people have come to work for global luxury brands and for that, I truly believe that our obsession with faking is counter-productive. It damages our self esteem, puts jobs and maybe even lives at risk and is certainly not taking the moral high ground. However, there would be a multitude of new issues that would stem from the abolition of this trade. The whole world has become so saturated in counterfeits that even celebrities have their hands on them. Trying to stop or even slow down this illicit activity would prove to be almost insurmountable.

“They don’t realise what they are fuelling is criminal activity. We have a generation now that is more worried about image than morality,” - Ben Muir

I hope you have found this post as absorbing as I have found researching it and I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this issue. I am always up for a healthy discussion. Please remember that at the end of the day, your health and your happiness are what truly matters. Be thankful for what you have and for the privilege of being able to buy such luxuries like handbags. As tomorrow is the last day of March, be sure to check my Philanthropy page to see what charity I will be donating to for the month of March. If you have any suggestions, be sure to leave a comment on the page!

[The irony of this post is that from this, comes a bombardment of fake handbag spam comments.]

DIY Peek-A-Boo Pocket Shorts

28 March 2013

When I saw these amazing Bad Habit cut-out shorts with skull studs, I fell in love. But I knew I wasn't going to pay $35 + shipping for them when I could easily make them at home. Overall the project cost me nothing as I already had a pair of fabric scissors and I already had a pair of shorts which I received in a clothes swap.

Convert old denim jeans or shorts into super trendy peek-a-boo pocket shorts in just 10 minutes. All you need is a pair of old shorts (or snip off the legs off some old jeans) and a pair of sharp fabric scissors or denim scissors. Sew-free, glue-free, ease-y...

Step 1: Turn your shorts inside out.

Step 2: Decide which pocket is the least practical. I chose the pocket-ception pocket (the one with the pocket inside a pocket which by the way was created for men to hold condoms!)

Step 3: Snip at points #1 and #2 cutting both layers of the pocket. Separate the layers, slide your scissors into the opening, then cut the top layer along the lines avoiding the studs. Make sure you stay a couple millimetres away from the seam so you don't accidentally cut the seam.

Step 4: Fold the pocket over and cut the bottom layer along the line.

Step 5: Turn your shorts back the right way.

And you're finished!

These shorts were vintage Levi jeans that were cut into shorts. They're ideal for this project as they're light-wash which is fantastic for enhancing a tan and high-wasted which makes the ensemble look more tasteful. These shorts are a must-have for this summer and ideal for sunny holidays abroad. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. Be on the look out for more DIY posts as I am now officially an Oxfam Fashion Blogger, specialising in fashion DIY!

Taking Care Of Fur

11 March 2013

A good faux fur coat is a staple in any wardrobe; it's warm, it's classic and it's durable. Fur was first thought to have been one of the first materials used for clothing, dating all the way back to the stone age, although the exact date of its emergence is often debated. It soon developed into a popular garment, often symbolising wealth and status throughout history. I love the look of faux fur and can only confirm further, how warm faux fur coats are. I'd just like to point out that I am 100% against the killing of animals for clothing purposes. Unless of course, you are an Alaskan or tribal native, in which the killing of animals for fur is one of the only ways to obtain warmth and protection...anyway, I digress. I will be sharing a quick and easy way to maintain fur and help prolong the life of it.

Meet my longest standing hairbrush; the Spornette Touché 122. It is a 100% natural boar-bristle brush. I purchased this back in 2008 because I heard that boar-bristle brushes help disperse the oil in your hair evenly, which was going to be particularly handy for the upcoming music festival I was to attend and has been my best friend, ever since. It has an ergonomic foam handle and bristles of different lengths and thicknesses, which helped alleviate my worries of it not being able to brush my extremely thick hair. This is what I use to look after my River Island leopard print fur coat too, which I noticed had become awfully matted, especially around the elbows and lower back where the most friction would occur (from sitting down and resting your arm).

I never noticed how matted my coat was as I don't generally tend to look at my coat from behind. It was only when I decided to Spring clean my wardrobe when I saw the state of the back. I was mortified and embarrassed that I had been walking around with a horribly matted coat for all those behind me to see. I brushed out the matted fur with the boar-bristle brush, sweeping in a downward direction (following the grain of the hair). Naturally, the fur may shed a few hairs in the process but far from enough to be left with bald patches.

It's also worth it to run the brush over the hemline where the matting of the fur looks reminiscent of a Chav's gel-slicked fringe which gives all the more reason to fix it! Materials and manufacture play a huge part in the durability and lifespan of clothing but I strongly believe that it is possible to prolong the lifespan of a garment, purely by taking care of it. Primark is known to be a one-stop, fast-fashion, low-quality retailer. However, I've owned pieces that have lasted years from Primark, simply by turning things inside out before washing, washing with common sense (sometimes the instructions aren't always correct) and repairing/maintaining.
"Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman." 
 - Gabrielle Chanel

What's In Kamila's Bag?

10 March 2013

Today, we see the first of the What's In Your Bag submissions of which will be an on-going feature on my blog. The feature showcases must-haves, essentials and favourites inside various bags from gym bags to handbags, from people of all walks of life.

Today we're meeting the lovely Kamila of Modesuchtig which is a personal style blog of two sisters; Kamila and Marlena. Kamila is 21 and is a Design and Fashion Management student and is currently using the Zara Citybag which is inspired by the infamous Prada Saffiano.

From left to right: Wallet from Sacha | Clarins Hand Cream | Tangle Teezer | Clarins Eye Cream | Chewing Gum | Rexona Deodorant | iPhone 5 | Indie Magazine | Women's Health Magazine | Moleskin Notebook | Vaseline | Travalo filled with Chloe Perfume | Chanel Lipstick in No 56 | Burt's Bees Lip Balm | Juicy Tubes Lip Gloss | Lush Popcorn Lip Scrub | H&M Sunglasses | Bobble Bottle

Kamila says that the Bobble Bottle is amazing because it makes all tap water, nice. Kamila would also recommend carrying Vaseline, investing in a Travalo which is a mini perfume spray bottle, Clarins hand cream and eye cream and Chanel lipsticks as they're a mix between lipsticks and lip glosses.

I for one am dying to try out Chanel lipsticks and looking to invest in the Bobble Bottle soon. I've already been into H&M to hunt down the sunnies (to no avail) and I know all to well how sticky the Lancome Juicy Tubes are, they're super glossy and smell divine but will turn your lips into glue and will stick to anything and everything. I would love for you to visit her and her sisters blog and would encourage you to take a look at her Instagram (@KamilaMoroz) if you have the time.

If you'd like to enter a What's In Your Bag submission, please visit the link in the sidebar.

Tips For A Happy Mind & Heart

8 March 2013

You always see and hear people harking on about how great positivity and optimism is, which makes the whole affair appear almost hippy-esque. The truth is, people are quick to resent those who are happy because for many, that level of peace is frustratingly unobtainable therefore making that person unknowingly envious. It appears that negativity is the only form of mental illness that is accepted in society and almost celebrated in a way. Instead of being inspired and motivated, people react to news of optimism and happiness by being offended by it. This person is then criticised for being too happy - because obviously, there is a threshold of happiness which when breached, instantly turns you into an awful awful person...not. This cynicism is often celebrated and even encouraged, frequently forming the backbone of many interactions. Sure, it may be a little bit of fun and it can strengthen bonds between people but it's not a trait or common ground you should be nurturing. It's the sort of trait that encourages discrimination.

Now at this point you may be thinking that I too may be too happy, but snort not sweet child for I was once a cynic, in fact - I was known for being a chronic cynic...only I was in denial and called it realism as opposed to pessimism. I used to think that love was for the stupid, that everyone was heartless and that life was pointless. I was the type of person who wouldn't say that the glass was half empty, nor half full. I'd say that there was no glass, no nothing (do mind the double-negative). I never dreamt of the day I'd actually be a positive thinker because...well...I automatically assumed it would never come (pessimism again). I was locked in circle of cynicism spiralling out of control the older I got or as Ron Burgundy put it, I was in...A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!

To this very second, I am still stunned at the fact I have become a positive thinker and for the first time in my life, I am actually happy. My life hasn't drastically improved, if anything my situation has become a lot worse but my mind is a lot more...without sounding like a tree-hugger...'whole'. For the first time, I have dreams and aspirations. I long to explore the world and sample every given opportunity. I still have my ups and downs, as will everybody but I have become a lot more content with life and it's not due to one thing but a combination of things. 

Being told to practise positive thinking is all well and true but it's another thing to apply it. I used to scoff at the idea and make the excuse that your thinking should come natural to you and you shouldn't have to practise it as if you were in school. But this form of conditioning happens in all aspects of life, there's nothing academic about it. However, I highly doubt you can change the way you think unless you truly want to change it for the better, your heart has to be in it. But I found a few things helped me in this transformation and I strongly believe it was the combination of these things that propelled the change, not one sole thing. 

The best things in life are actually free, so things like music and friendships. Music is a powerful tool so make sure you're surrounding yourself in uplifting tunes every now and then. My current favourites are We Come Running and Danny Boy, both by Youngblood Hawke. You should also be surrounding yourself in positive and encouraging people, I met some great people towards the end of 2012 that have literally changed my life. 

Have a social media clear-out; un-follow and delete people that spread negativity (maybe the ones who are spiteful) and reduce how dependent you are on these websites. I remember receiving some new shoes back in September in the post and I spent 10 minutes taking photos, then 10 minutes editing these photos and then selecting which social networks to share my shoes with and at that point I caught myself and it suddenly hit me..."What the hell am I doing?!" I'd be doing this on a regular occasion, sometimes several times a day and I know a lot of people out there (especially girls) do the same. I took the plunge and deleted several of my accounts including Instagram and rarely visit others now apart from Twitter. People have become so obsessed with how their life appears on the outside that they've forgotten to just live, which was what I was doing. Alongside privacy issues, studies have shown that social networks such as Facebook, actually make you angrier and more lonely.

Use the internet to your advantage and stream feel good TV shows and films like Ugly Betty, Bridesmaids and Amelie. Although set in a seemingly superficial industry, Ugly Betty actually has a strong consistent message and is really inspiring unlike Gossip Girl which I've taken the liberty to stop watching. If you're in the mood for something more light hearted, that's fine - I love to watch Would I Lie To You and Michael McIntyre clips. Other helpful clips include Being Happy, Dealing With Judgemental People/Boosting Your Confidence and How To Be Happy.

It is important to train yourself to think more positively, don't sweat it if you're not but try to catch yourself thinking negatively and replace it with positive thoughts even if you don't necessarily believe them. A fake smile actually releases endorphins much like a real smile, in turn making you happier and the same goes for positive thinking. If a supposed "chronic cynic" can do it, then I'm sure as hell you can.

Lastly, appreciate the little things in life. In my transition, I begun noticing little things like I loved whenever a train I was on, tilted and when a shopping bag fit my bin nicely. These things all seem so insignificant but if you appreciate the smaller things in life, you learn to appreciate the bigger things in life. Like with the recent horse meat scandal, yes there are potential health risks involved but I'm so thankful we're even in a position to complain about meat in the first place! There are people out there that would kill for any meat; horse, dog, cat...anything, because they may actually starve to death otherwise.

If you do have a little bit of cash to spend, some ideas may include buying books and developing new hobbies. Some new hobbies I developed which helped me included street dance lessons (so I would become one step further to becoming Béyonce) and singing lessons. The street dance lessons only cost me £4 for 45 minutes and the singing lessons a dearer £10 for 30 minutes but you can find someone who can sing professionally but isn't a qualified teacher to tutor you for a lot less which is what I'm doing now with French lessons. My favourite song to sing to currently is Just Give Me A Reason by P!nk feat. Nate Reuss sounding a little like Regina Spektor in the intro, P!nk's harmony is fantastic to singalong to. I also further developed my existing passion for blogging, the cost would depend on your material and style but blogging in general, tends to be a costless activity.

It may be worth while to invest in some motivational reading materials. I love How To Be Lovely by Melissa Hellstern which is about an Audrey Hepburn way of living, The Bounce Back Book by self-help author Karen Salmansohn, The Rules of Life by Richard Templar and I'm going to attempt to re-read the infamous The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I read this previously, back when I was a raging ball of anger and negativity. I was literally so disgusted at how positive it was that I threw it to the back of storage. I know! What the hell was wrong with me?! Now that my heart is in the right place, I'm going to attempt to read it again and perhaps this time, it may turn out to be a treasured novel. If I had to advise you to read just one of these books, it would be The Rules of  Life.

Now if you have a lot of money to spend, I would highly suggest going on holiday - preferably to a place culturally different to your country of residence. Now this doesn't necessarily mean go to Antarctica or somewhere where they speak an entirely different language. I went to Melbourne and although the language was the same, the culture there is completely different to the UK. Everything is a lot more laid back, people are friendlier, people appreciate the smaller things more and my favourite thing? People actually have time for you! I learnt a lot about  myself and life as a whole and I'm forever grateful for the opportunity.

If at any point you think you are suffering from depression, visit a doctor but only accept the decision to take medication if you truly believe it's justifiable. Those who take medication often don't realise that they become not addicted but dependent on medication and therefore have an extremely difficult time reducing dosage or weaning off them completely.

I hope you have found this link-laden post inspirational one way or another and remember, "You'll never leave where you are until you decide where you'd rather be."
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