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Disposable Fakes

Some time ago one of Counterfeit Chic's favorite readers, La BellaDonna, sent the following inquiry:

Susan, if you have the opportunity at some point, I would appreciate your views regarding something I've seen posted more than once: consumers who had bought copies of luxury goods said that their fakes outperformed/outlasted/were better made than the originals.

I know that I myself have bought the occasional watch or sunglasses from street vendors, but to my knowledge they weren't "fake" anything - just generic "watch" or "sunglasses" because I scatter them far and wide, like confetti, in passing. What issues, if any, do you have with street-vended goods that aren't pretending to be anything else?

My immediate response to the final question was, "No problem whatsoever!"  Personally, I'm thrilled that in the city during a sudden rainstorm, street vendors selling cheap black umbrellas spring up like mushrooms in the woods after the rain.  Perhaps if I were a sartorially gifted British gentleman, I would be privy to the secret of keeping track of an elegant bespoke silk umbrella with a carved handle.  As it is, I'm happy to have access to umbrellas, sunglasses, etc. that aren't fake, just convenient and effectively disposable. 

But what about buying fakes in order to avoid losing the real thing?  That's the strategy of columnist Harry Hurt III, who in today's New York Times describes a trip to Chinatown to find a counterfeit facsimile of the Patek Philippe watch given to him by his wife.  He hadn't actually lost the watch yet, but only because it remained locked in a jewelry box for safekeeping.  Naturally, the giver was't pleased by this state of affairs; hence, the shopping excursion.  In HH's words:

I climbed out of a subway hole, looking and feeling like a loser.  And I was a loser.  Not just any old loser.  I was a loser of fine watches....

Well, yes, that about sums it up.  If you've lost Rolex, Cartier, Patek Philippe, "and then some" over the past three decades, it's time to give up -- or more to the point, for your spouse to give up on buying you expensive gifts.  Perhaps there's a subconscious issue with measuring the passage of time, a dislike of expensive adornment, or a more-cerebral-than-thou insistence upon disregarding personal possessions.  In any case, a fake Patek Philippe won't fool Mrs. HH, especially since you've just turned it into a column. 

Which is not to say that there's no place for "travel jewelry" or other self-respecting substitutes for luxury items.  A half-hearted attempt to fool one's spouse, however, isn't a particularly worthy mission.

As for copies that are superior to the originals, they should serve as a wake-up call to high-end companies that claim to compete on quality and style rather than price.  With good design available at all price points, the real deal ought to at least offer superior craftsmanship.  Otherwise, a luxury logo becomes "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound an fury, signifying nothing."  In other words, a retail tragedy.

P.S.  Let me take this opportunity to compliment La BellaDonna on choosing one of my favorite screen names ever.  A "beautiful woman" and a deadly poison once used for cosmetic purposes?  Talk about a complex character!