I've always taken a fairly stringent stance against knock-offs and fakes. I can't pretend it's because there's a noble reason for wanting to show my disapproval of the counterfeit industry (although that factors into it). In most cases, there's a certain amount of respect for the originating designer and the perceived quality in what you're buying in the 'original'. Alas, it mostly comes down to an innate pride that to buy a knock-off/fake is somehow a way of eating my own words, counter attacking my support for original designers. Yet, how does one avoid 'inspired' design entering into the equation especially when the 'inspired' version in question actually presented itself as a pretty credible match against the original?
Some of you on Twitter were very gung-ho about my going for these ASOS Monroe metallic brogues, clearly very much inspired (and unapologetically so…) by the now oh-so-ubiquitous Prada S/S 11 brogues, which I also possess. The ASOS shoes are a fifth of the price of the originals and I'm a bit hesitant as to say whether they are a fifth of the quality of the Pradas without full testing them out.
All I know is that I had a good enough initial reason for buying them? Metallic leather! Silver AND gold. Pure aesthetic motivation. Had Prada done them in metallic leathers? Not to my knowledge. Did my guilt lessen because I have actually bought and supported the originals? Ashamedly, yes. Subsequently the shoes served a more practical purpose. I pumped for the ASOS ones to take with me to Huntington Beach and unsurprisingly they were soaked in sand, sea and tap water. They have since dried out 100% and surprisingly survived the Pacific ocean soaking. I'm sure that the Pradas might have withstood the same amount of damage but I never took that risk. The ASOS ones became a disposable form of brand protection.
I've never had any beef against other people choosing to buy fakes/knock-offs for the reason that is often spouted in their defence – the people buying the knock-offs are never going to be able to afford the real thing. Now, clearly I have broken that rule of thumb, but go through countless posts about Jeffrey Campbell's own version of the Prada brogues (I personally think there's something a bit 'off' about the shape and the leather but what do I know?) and you'll see people declaring the fact that they'd never pay $800+ for a pair of shoes.
Then I went back to re-read Fashionista's own investigation into the motivation for buying fakes and it's apparent that it isn't as simple as dividing it up into the poor people who buy fakes and rich people who buy the real thing. I've obviously fallen into the 'buying both' category. With the knowledge of knowing the differences between the 'inspired' version and the real thing, what it boiled down to was the fact that to me, there was a desirable aesthetic value in the metallic brogues by ASOS to warrant the purchase as well as well as their 'wreckable' quality even though we're still talking about a ¬£95 pair of shoes. I know that Prada shoe has not been outdone in quality and if they did in fact produce them in metallic leathers, I'd probably eschew the ASOS ones and save up for the real thing just as I did for the ones I bought in Milan.
Yet the bottom line for me in this instance was satiating aesthetic desire. Am I condoning the fact that ASOS (along with JC, Topshop…) can readily facilitate this 'inspired' chain of production? No, not completely – even if I do think that the majority of customers for these 'inspired' versions aren't likely to own the originals. Do I applaud the fact that ASOS were able to capitalise on an original design and somehow add their own 'twist' to it? Well, clearly since I've bought a pair. Do I then become part of a complicated customer profile – one that buys both the original AND the knock off, which might ultimately hurt the bottomline of the high end labels? Perhaps…