Knock-off or Not? The Debate Over Fake Designer Handbags

I have no idea if this Chanel bag I saw on the street was a knock off or not, but I’m leaning toward it being one of the fake designer handbags that proliferates through the black market.  CC logo bags like this are pretty ubiquitous in Los Angeles. Often when I see obvious designer bags like Louis Vuitton or Chanel I wonder if they’re real.  It’s often hard to tell unless you can get quite close.

My Fake Designer Handbags

I admit it – I have worn and enjoyed a few fake designer handbags, but it seems like the more involved I become in the world of fashion blogging, the more the moral issues surrounding the knock-off bag has become a concern for me. It seems to be a reoccurring theme that true style cannot be found if one resorts to fakes. There’s also the issue of buying something that is taking money away from the designers and business people who’s work makes the brand name desirable to begin with. More of a concern to me is the question of stealing a trademark. If making a counterfeit bag is stealing the brand name, then is purchasing one also stealing?

My mother purchased this “Louis Vuitton” multi-colored  purse from a street vendor in Rome many years ago and brought it home to me as a gift. Although I love it I don’t wear it very often.  You can tell it’s fake because the “LV” part of the logo is off-center. Unlike many fakes it’s actually very well made. The interior is as pretty as the exterior.

My aunt saw this “Kate Spade” striped satchel while shopping in Downtown Los Angeles and thought it looked like “me”. She was right.  I was my bag of choice for many years. I refer to it as my “Fake Spade”.

Should buying a fake designer handbag be a crime?

The concerns over counterfeit merchandise go beyond what is and what is not fashionable. Recently I read this article about a New York City Councilwoman who has introduced a bill to make it illegal not just to manufacture and sell fake designer merchandise, but also to buy counterfeit items. If the bill passes and you’re caught trying to purchase a fake designer purse in New York City’s Chinatown you could spend time in jail or pay a $1,000 fine. Although I support the government  regulating and enforce fair trade laws, including copyright infringement, I am not a fan of the government trying to regulate morality, and the issue of whether an individual should or should not buy a fake bag is, I think, a moral one. As long as endangered animals are not being killed for their ivory, horns, or hides, I believe it is up to the individual as to what they will and will not purchase, based upon their own moral code. (Obviously there are certain moral issues that go beyond a personal purchasing decision.  I am talking specifically about fashion purchases.) In my case, as much as I try to be a ethical consumer I know that like my various attempts at dieting that all my best intentions are struck down by desire. If there’s one item of clothing I have a hard time saying “no” to it’s a purse I want.  If I can afford it, well, all best intentions are usually thrown to the wind.

The Quest

I don’t live in Manhattan, but Los Angeles also has, or had, a thriving counterfeit purse industry.  New York must have a major problem with fakes if their city council is looking at enacting a law that makes it illegal to purchase a knock-off from a street vendor. I know that in recent years the city of LA has really clamped down on the selling of fake designer handbags, and I wondered how successful they were. So in the spirit of investigation my husband and I headed downtown to the center of the fashion district to see if we could spot and photograph any counterfeits.

There are numerous shops that sell purses in the thriving carnival of thrifty shopping that is Santee Alley.  All the bags are cheap cheap cheap.  A lot of them are rather ugly, but there are some really fun pieces mixed in with the less adorable options. As we found out this weekend there are knock-off designer purses hiding in the back of most of these stores as well. In the photo below you can just see my behind the polka dot rose festooned gathered bags on the right.  I felt like a kid in a candy store!  All these purses cost between $20 and $40.

In the photo below you can see one of the faux “Burberry” plaid purses sold in most of the establishments.  This one didn’t have the Burberry logo, but some did.

Fake “Chanel”

The intertwined “C”s of Chanel were found in a few stores hidden in the back and often behind a counter.  I was hoping to get a photograph but the vendors are very suspicious of cameras.  Two CC monogrammed bags disappeared before our eyes when the seller saw my husband’s camera.  The purses themselves were all made in rather nasty feeling vinyl.  Some were even lined with a “Chanel” printed taffeta and had tags guaranteeing their authenticity. I don’t know if anyone is convinced that they were the real thing.

Fake “Louis Vuitton”

Bags of all shapes and sizes made with brown bumpy vinyl printed with something that looked like the classic LV print bags trimmed with tan vinyl were all over the alley.  There was nothing anywhere that looked like the real thing.  However, as my husband and I were wandering along a man came up to me and whispered “What do you need?  I’ve got Coach.  I’ve got Vuitton…”  Buying a fake bag is one thing, buying something that “fell of the truck” is quite another.  Plus I didn’t relish the thought of being mugged, so I kept on going.

Fake “Coach”

There were lots and lots of bags with some sort of brown “C” print fabric that looked something like a really cheap version of a classic coach bag. There were also some that really did look like the patchwork bags sold at Coach stores and these had a Coach logo of some sort.  Most of them were hiding in the backs of stores.  I don’t really like the real thing and I couldn’t bring myself to purchase a really cheap and nasty version either, even if they were only $30.

What I Purchased

My husband really felt that to write a compelling article on the subject of counterfeit purses we needed some photos of the actual counterfeits.  Unfortunately this proved almost impossible.  The vendors knew they were selling illegal merchandise, and were very clear that cameras were not welcome in their stores. So, even though I wasn’t planning on purchasing any fake bags, we decided to go back a second time and purchase at least one to photograph.  I was originally planning to buy a fake Channel purse, but the one I had seen on the first trip that I thought I could modify later on was gone.  It had been replaced at one store by a truly horrific black and purple woven number that I just couldn’t bring myself to buy.

After passing on what seemed like dozens of really ugly fake designer purses I was starting to think I’d never find anything I’d ever want to spend $2 on, let alone $40.  Finally I found a store selling a slightly different variety of merchandise. Lining the walls were purses that I really liked.  They were clean and simple.  Because I was still hoping to find a decent looking version of the intertwined CC logo, I asked the proprietor in my most innocent “I just wanna buy a purse” voice, “Do you have any Chanel style bags?”  He replied, “Oh yes, they’re right here.” and picked up a plain black quilted bag.  “Would you like me to put a logo on for you?”


Yes, he sold the little metal tags seperately.  An assitant was there to put hammer it on for you after you purchased the bag. I’m not especially desirous of a cheap quilted vinyl bag, but there were some other styles I really liked, including this fake “Gucci” sachel.

Unfortunately, the assistant got the tag slightly off centered, which drives me nuts.  I’m planning on prying the stupid thing off but first I need to find something to cover up the holes it will leave.  Once it’s off, I’ll just have a cute, cheap, structured, and, embossed, brown vinyl bag.

The quality of the this bag is pretty close to what I would normally buy at Target – meaning not great but not as bad as one would expect.  The interior has a number of zippered compartments and is fairly roomy.

This green vinyl hobo called my name from the shelf.  I totally forgot that I already had two other green purses at home, and sprang for the “Prada” too. I love the hardware.

In Conclusion

After wandering all over L.A.’s fashion district searching for replica handbags I finally thought to just google “fake designer handbags” to see what came up.  After all the hoopla about arresting people buying fakes from street vendors, I now realize that if you really want a fake desinger bag they are really easy to get on-line. One of the sites I found sells over 1,700 replica “Louis Vuitton” handbags with the correct logo print. Another offers some “Chanel” bags that look kind of cute in the tiny thumbnails they show.  After having seen and touched some fakes this weekend I doubt they look all that good in real life. Many companies are trying their best to keep the counterfeiters at bay. Here is a notice from Chanel about buying counterfeits: Chanel Replicas.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I have a hard time getting really worked up over the horrors of counterfeit bags.  Although I could probably afford a good quality leather handbag, I can’t even think about purchasing a real Prada, Chanel, or Gucci bag. I simply don’t have that kind of money.  Unlike clothing, where trends that start on the runways eventually trickle down to my financial level, designer bags are simply not available to the likes of me.  Somehow I find this irritating. I don’t expect the mega-brands to cheapen their goods so everyone can afford them. Fashion is not egalitarian. However I don’t think they should be pressuring local governments to make purchasing fake hand bags illegal and punishable by heavy fines or imprisonment. (I don’t know that they are, but I can’t imagine that a member of government would bother trying to pass a law making the purchasing of fake bags a crime unless they were getting pressured from someone.) The mega brands are making a product that people want, why be so surprised that people will go to great lengths to get something similar?

In Arash Mazinani’s thoughtful post, Superbrands: Why They’ve Got You Hooked, he writes : “So you’re probably wondering why whenever you see that Chanel handbag your heart skips a beat? Well they did a test on someone where they scanned the lady’s brain while showing her different pictures of bags. When she was shown pictures of designer handbags her brain started registering in the participant’s pleasure centre; the part of the brain associated with reward, craving and addiction. When they were shown pictures of bags from Primark and Asda no such brain activity was recorded.”

So, essentially designer bags are like crack for fashionistas.  If they are that addictive, then it would make sense that a person who would otherwise never think of purchasing a knock-off anything would decide it was OK to bend the rules a little?

In the end I really love my two new fakes and I’ve already gotten compliments on the green one.  I’ve never seen the real thing so I don’t know how much of a copy I even have, I really just like the design of both bags. I doubt I would have bothered getting the little metal logos on them if it hadn’t been for writing this post. I really wanted to show what a counterfeit purse looked like, inside and out.

Update July 2011: Many thanks to Keitha for sending me more information on the link between terrorist organizations and counterfeit purses. Check out Terror’s Purse Strings, an opinion piece from the New York Times. 

Update July 2013: Two years later this article continues to be a popular post on my blog. Clearly the controversy rages on! I recently shared the post on Google Plus and one of my friends sent me an article from Harpers Bazaar about counterfeit merchandise. To read more please see The fight Against Fakes: Child labor, terrorism, human trafficking: Buying Counterfeit designer goods is hardly harmless. 

So what do you think of counterfeits?  Should buying a fake designer bag be a crime punishable by jail time and a hefty fine? Do you have any knock-off bags? Are you surprised that they’re so easy to get?

Like what you see? Follow me!

BloglovinFacebook TwitterPinterestInstagram

, , , ,

118 Responses to Knock-off or Not? The Debate Over Fake Designer Handbags

  1. anne
    June 20, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Heather, a very interesting and thorough post!
    LAPD had “hidden cameras” installed in Santee Alley to curb the counterfeit sales but they may had been discontinued due to “invasion of privacy” issues.

    I agree with you, PURCHASING a knock-off should not be a crime.

    • Heather Fonseca June 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      Interesting! I didn’t see any hidden cameras, but now I know why the counterfeits were hidden in the backs of the stores.

    • Taha Kiran November 9, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

      It shouldnt be a crime.. I sell replica handbags at a market of anyone is interested in buying some just message me!

  2. Alexis of NorthOnHarper June 20, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    I actually have a pretty big problem with counterfeits. Not only in the fashion industry, but across the board. Because they do not only hurt the designer- but multiple people along the way. They are associated with child labor, drugs and even terrorism. I get the desire, I do. But at what cost?

    • Heather Fonseca June 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

      The person I purchased the two bags from was just selling cheap bags that had been made in China. (Personally, I would love to avoid everything made in China, but it’s darn difficult.)
      I didn’t go far enough in my research to find anything really creepy about counterfeit bags, but I suppose it makes sense that anything that’s being produced illegally is going to have links to other illegal activities.

      • Alexis of NorthOnHarper June 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

        Please know in NO way am I attacking your purchases. I just have read a lot about them and have strong personal feelings. But they are just, personal feelings. They are not judgements.

        • Heather Fonseca June 22, 2011 at 8:53 am #

          No worries Alexis! Like I said in the post I wouldn’t have put on the fake tags if it hadn’t been for writing this post, I would just have bought the bags plain. I don’t really like the idea of buying counterfeit designer stuff anyway – I think it’s kinda cheesy – and I don’t think I’ll be doing it again in the future.

    • lana July 14, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

      I am going to lose it if someone else mentions that the huge moral issue behind buying counterfeit bags is that they are made by exploiting children in foreign countries. Practically everything made in foreign countries such as China or India is made from cheap labor! They live and work in horrible conditions and work for pennies a day. If you want to do something to help that, buy only locally made items. …Not so cheap, is it?

      • Heather Fonseca July 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

        Hi Iana,

        I try to buy locally made products but they’re not easy to find, or afford. I agree with you that most of what is made abroad from cheap labor has moral issues attached to it.

    • lw October 1, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

      Buying tomatoes or onions from Mexico supports child labor. Buying almost anything from most South American countries, South Asian countries, or China supports some kind of child or forced labor. Look up where most of the ingredients in chocolate come from.
      These designer bag companies don’t care about that, They care about net profits. Buy a cheap bag and send the rest of your extra thousands to a relief organization abroad.

  3. Ariane June 20, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    The bags you purchased are beautiful. Most fakes are hideous, but these are really pretty. In the summer of 2000, I visited a good friend who lived in New York at the time. My mom asked me to buy a fake Vuitton for her, the kind that were popular at the time: the vinyl looking ones in pastel colors. I spent about $225 on this fake purse for her (she paid me back of course). I remember feeling really stupid as I paid in cash. I told the woman in the store, this is way too much and he said “oh you go and buy the real one for $1000, then”. My mom gave me the purse a few years ago and it still sits in my closet. It’s really pretty, and for a fake, pretty good quality actually. Unfortunately, it was a trendy vuitton instead of one of the classic types so I never wear it. I do have a couple of real vuittons and I wear those a lot. And no, no guilt, in buying the fakes, by the way.

    • Heather Fonseca June 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      What a funny story – especially because it was your mom who introduced me to the real thing! I can’t imagine her wanting a fake when she already had the real thing, but maybe there’s a certain edgy quality to having a fake?

  4. SACRAMENTO June 20, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    What a fantastic,thorough and well researched post, heather.
    We are connected somehow on the subject of our posts hehehehe.

  5. Fashion Limbo June 20, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    I read Arash’s post and watched the programme the BBC did on what drives us to spend money on designer gear, and this is a really interesting topic.
    The thing is that this type of product, designer accessories, doesn’t do it for me so maybe I’m not inclined to buy fakes because of that. A friend of mine owns all sorts of fakes, bags, coats, boots, shoes…she gets them in Morocco and when she recently travelled to Rome all she was looking for were “good fakes”. I believe it’s wrong. If you covet something so much, pay the price tag. If you can’t afford it, getting a fake maybe suggests you are just desiring the image? to be admired or look at with envy as you hold these bags? It’s a complex subject.
    I see the logic in making buying fake products illegal, you would be supporting an illegal system.
    I have to congratulate you for this post, you and your husband did a great job, and it was really well written, I was interested in every word. Loved this xxx

    • Heather Fonseca June 22, 2011 at 9:00 am #

      I agree with you, it IS a complex subject.
      As for making purchasing a fake bag a crime, that I’m really against. I feel like the government is overreaching itself in this instance. It’s a little too “Big Brother” for me.

  6. Liz
    June 20, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Living in nyc, it’s actually kind of annoying how many people will bug you with “what do you need-chanel, fendi, etc) when you walk through chinatown’s canal street, to the point where I want to scream “leave me alone, I’m just here to go to the art store and to get dumplings!”

    Personally, I would rather just wear a different brand than a fake, and I agree with Alexis, a lot of fakes are made at very high costs, but than again, so are a lot of real purses. However, I definitely don’t think it should be a criminal offense to BUY one

    • Heather Fonseca June 22, 2011 at 9:01 am #

      I’m so glad you commented because I have no way of knowing what it’s like in Chinatown in N.Y. It sounds like street vendors selling fake goods really is a problem.

  7. Midnight Cowgirl June 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Fantastic post! While I’m not a fan of purchasing designer fakes, I do not think it should be a crime to buy them.

    • Heather Fonseca June 22, 2011 at 9:02 am #

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked the post. It was fun and challenging to write.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I’m not going to pass judgment on fakes, either on the buyers or sellers. I have seen some incredible replicas, and I suppose if I couldn’t spend $7,000 or even $2,000 on a bag, then $175-$300 for a high-quality, likely leather replica that doesn’t scream FAKE is worth it.

    That said, I’d rather carry a quality no-name bag than a really obvious fake one. Any woman who knows her luxury brands will spot a fake bag from a mile away, so the carrier of a fake isn’t fooling anyone, especially if the rest of their ensemble smacks of cheapness. And they probably think what I think: FAKE PRADA! FAKE GUCCI! FAKE LOUIS! I don’t mean this in an offensive manner. It’s literally what pops in my head. Which leaves me wondering why women would want to carry a bag that broadcasts to the world that it is an imposter.

    I think women are better saving the $15, $25, and $30 spent here and there for fakes that disintegrate for a good quality bag, even if it’s only one purchased every couple of years. Or for a second-hand designer bag procured from a consignment shop or eBay. This approach is why French women are famous for being so chic. Most have less in their closets, but their items are worth more, and last longer. So when they step out, they look luxe and stylish because of the quality, cut, and detail of their clothing and accessories—not because of the logo stuck on the outside.

    • Heather Fonseca June 22, 2011 at 9:07 am #

      I definitely didn’t see any really good fake bags in Downtown L.A.; It was all cheap stuff. I don’t know if I came across a good quality fake if I’d jump on it or if I’d spend the money on a good quality leather bag instead.

      I would SO love to buy a good quality real designer bag like the Celine one’s they sell at Barneys. But they’re $2,000! If you tallied up the prices of every purse in my closet the sum would be under $500. Sigh.

    June 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Very interesting post… I always think of this when I go about walking on the city-streets viewing many fakes, although I don’t have a $7,000 budget to buy tons of premium bags, I do admire them, and the designer ones that I do own may be a handful, but – I too would rather own a few good quality bags, than acquiring many fake ones. For me though my perspective is a bit different, having mixed emotions – I used to work in fashion manufacturing and have seen loads of companies producing with sister vendors & cross-manufacturing, etc. You’d be surprised how many of your favourite companies produce with some of the same factories on different levels, and not all fashion brands as well.

    As a designer, I feel it’s hurtful to see so many fakes out there, yet understand the wanting to make styles affordable for everyone. Although, I don’t buy fakes, I’m not certain if I’d go as far to say that it should be a crime to buy one… wouldn’t that almost be like saying it should be a crime to buy some of the prints that we wear from other brands, or similar motifs in varied colours? This still goes on, & often not only copying from famous designers, sometimes independent brands are the victims. All impressions of an original. Good post!

    • Heather Fonseca June 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment! I love seeing how everyone feels about this subject – it is a complex one. I have heard of different makeup brands being made in the same manufacturing plant but not purses being made by the same company at different price points. Another person commented that some fakes are made by the company that produces the real thing! Amazing.

  10. mary jo
    June 21, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    I love that you are brave enough to take on this topic, Heather. As a bag designer, I am very against knock offs because they are such bad karma and hurt the industry, the designers, the companies backing the designers and are usually made by exploited labor and connected with racketeering. However, they mostly bother me because I can spot them 100 ft away and like you mention, the crooked plate, the off colors, the strange invented logos always make me laugh. I do remember being in Italy a few years back and all these Uganda refugees were selling knock-off Prada on the street and word was that Prada was manufacturing them, so who knows in the end where it starts. I wish we weren’t so logo obsessed in the first place!

    • Heather Fonseca June 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

      Thanks Mary Jo. I spent a long time writing the post. I really didn’t want to put my foot in my mouth as I know this is a controversial subject.

      I wish I wasn’t so logo obsessed! I think maybe if I got some real designer pieces in my wardrobe I’d be less into it. It’s like I can’t have it so I want it.

  11. Shelly June 22, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    Well I guess it all depends on the purchasing audience?
    A perfect example of the free enterprise I suspect?

  12. Elle June 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    This was a very interesting and informative read. I’ve personally never seen the appeal in fakes- I’d rather a nice affordable well made bag without $500 tacked on for just the label. I’ve never purchased a fake even after growing up in NYC and they usually look badly made to me, though you found some decent ones. That said I wish I had better purses- I have a couple from Target but after 3 years they’re not looking their best. The only designer type thing I own is a wristlet from Coach, a gift from a friend many years ago and I still wear it regularly though it’s an obvious print (the classic Coach cs) and I loved it when I first got it in high school (it came in a macys bag, tags, receipts and all (boys…)). It’s interesting to see everyone’s take on the subject. Personally I think it hurts designers because there are local or lesser known designers selling unique pieces for around the price of some fakes ($50-$150).

    • Heather Fonseca June 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

      I understand the appeal of fakes because I want what I can’t have! A real designer bag is beyond my price point, but I think in the future I’ll be looking for a well made leather bag in the $50 to $150 range. If you know of those smaller designers let me know!

  13. shannon June 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Congrats on your IFB feature this week. Well-deserved! I learned so much from this post. It’s funny because I’ve never purchased a real or fake brand name bag in my life. Low maintenance gal here 🙂

    • Heather Fonseca June 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

      Thanks Shannon! I’m so glad you liked it.

    June 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    For me, I’d rather find a cute/cheap bag that kinda/sorta looks designer but is not a “fake.” For example, I can easily go to Forever 21 and buy a quilted bag that looks exactly like Chanel but doesn’t have a tacky fake logo on it. I love that green bag but for me, the fact that it has a fake Prada logo on it is a turn-off. I’d go somewhere else and just get a bag that looks like it. It’s so easy these days! If I want a designer bag, I’ll save for the real thing. I’m just not into fakes. I’m totally not judging you, just giving my opinion. To each her own. 🙂 Also, this was a really well-written and thought-out post! Congrats on making LALM.

    • Heather Fonseca June 25, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      Thanks Stephanie. I’m glad you liked the post. Since you live in LA you should go downtown one day and check out all the purses. It’s a carnival, really fun, and the vast majority of them are not counterfeits. (Assuming you haven’t gone there already!)

  15. Boheme Noir June 24, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Counterfeit bags are a bad idea and one can only lose with them; they will embarres you in front of the people that matter (who will recognize them as fake) and the people that can be impressed by a counterfeit don`t matter anyway.

    (Let`s leave aside that one is damaging the image of a brand by wearing a counterfeit).

    • Heather Fonseca June 25, 2011 at 9:40 am #

      Considering that you go to fashion shows where there really are people who would recognize a fake I would say it would be a very bad idea for you to carry one!

  16. Leia June 24, 2011 at 1:49 am #

    I used to think it was fine to buy fakes, but now that I’ve learned about the illegal and often abusive child labor that is intricately involved with the creation of counterfeit bags, I’ve stopped buying them.

    • Heather Fonseca June 25, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      I’m going to have to do more research on the child labor issue. One of the problems with loosing our manufacturing base here in the U.S. is that everything is produced in countries where the ethical treatment of workers is less stringent than it would be here. The two cheap bags I bought were all made in China, but so was the $300 trench I purchased at Barneys last month. I have no idea if either were made in an ethical fashion.

  17. Couture Carrie June 24, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    Really interesting and well-researched post, darling!

    In my opinion, fakes are never in fashion…


  18. Aquí June 24, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    I’m so mixed about the topic. When I was living in NY, my roommate worked for the counterfeit division of LV. It was serious stuff for them. They would go to China town looking for their bags, y roommate was sent into a department store with a tape recorder interrogating the manager.
    Also, as someone earlier commented it may lead to child labor and what not. But really what isn’t? These days you’d have to boycott everything if you’re going to ethically right in every way.
    Personally I don’t think buying counterfeit bags is the worst thing a person could do. I wouldn’t say I’m for it but I’m not against it either. Great topic 🙂

    • Heather Fonseca June 25, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      That must have been an interesting job! I did notice that when I went looking for fakes there were no Louis Vuittons at all. They must be very diligent to keep them off the streets.

      I too am interested about the issue of child labor and I tend to agree with you. Once we stopped making things locally we lost the ability to really know how what we buy is made. It’s one of the drawbacks of a global economy. Every year I decide to stop buying things made in China and every year I can’t find anything thats NOT made in China. It’s a problem.

  19. bravoerunway June 25, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    This is an excellent post! I live in Downtown Chicago and see the portable street vendors all the time with the replicas. Designer handbags increase 10%+ annually, it often feels like it is out of reach for many. It’s a tough call and the replicas are getting better and better and it’s getting harder to tell. I subscribe to the authentic, and I’ll save up to get what I really want. I can always sell my authentic on ebay and get my a decent chunk back.

    • Heather Fonseca June 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

      I agree with you and think it would be much better to buy the real thing, but they are very very expensive.

  20. Cate June 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    i wrote an article about this late last year and all the “horrors of counterfeit”, but the truth is, i agree with you. i don’t have the resources to buy real designer gear. it’s not that i don’t want to or wouldn’t if i could. i simply can’t afford to. in my world, if i think it’s cute and i can afford it, it’ll buy it. i don’t really think of anything past that.

    • Heather Fonseca June 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

      I’m going to have to check out your post on the issue! Like you, I can’t afford the real thing either. I’m doing well to buy a cute bag from Target on sale.

  21. poet June 26, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    A very thoughtful, well-researched post. I don’t quite understand the pull of big names, and I buy stuff primarily for the way it looks, so I am not tempted by counterfeit handbags. I wouldn’t exclude buying one if I really liked it, but like you are planning to do I’d probably pry off the label.

    • Heather Fonseca June 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

      I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but hopefully I’ll find something to cover up the holes with eventually. I’m so glad you liked the post.

  22. Keitha Duhaney June 26, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    In my opinion both seller and buyer should be punished in regards to the selling and buying of counterfeit goods. Simply because the majority of the people who sell these goods are people involved in illegal activities, i.e., human trafficking, drugs and slavery. The money they receive from the sale of these goods to support their illegal empires.

    Buying a fake bag is not just a harmless crime and you have to look at the bigger picture to understand. You have to think about the people that are enslaved and forced to produce these goods. Is it really worth it to satisfy your need to have the latest bag?

    There are plenty of options out there and if there is a bag you can’t live without, then save up for it. You will appreciate the bag more and you will not have to constantly worry about someone figuring out that you have a fake.

    • Heather Fonseca June 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

      I’m not especially worried about what people might think of me wearing any sort of bag, they can think what they want.
      I’ve also been trying to find some sort of article that shows evidence of the counterfeit industry supporting criminal activity, child labor and links to terrorists. Although it would follow that anyone willing to create illegal merchandise would be acting in a criminal manner, so far I’ve found only one article from the New York Times from 2003 that supports the terrorist part. I tend to agree with Aqui who also commented on the article; if you really want to only purchase things that are made ethically you’re not going to have much to choose from. I do feel that it’s much better to buy the real thing if you can afford it, but I really wonder how much worse it is to buy a cheap fake bag from a street vendor than a cheap not-fake bag from Walmart.

      • Keitha June 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

        There is a chapter or section in the book Deluxe by Dana Thomas that discusses the topic of counterfeit designer goods and its ties to other illegal activity.

        Aside from the moral issue regarding counterfeit goods. There also is the issue of intellectual property. If I write a paper for a class, that report is my property. If someone comes along and copies my paper and submits it as their work, it is called plagiarism and said person is punished for stealing. In my opinion the same attitude should hold true when it comes to designers and their work.

        • Heather Fonseca June 27, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

          With the fakes that use obvious logo prints (like the LV logo or the intertwined CC of Chanel) I would tend to agree with you about the plagiarism, however when it comes to the less obvious copies I’m not so sure I would agree. I’m sure the people who are designing Prada bags are picking up things at flea markets and scouring magazines for inspiration, just like other designers do for pretty much everything. There really is very little new in the world of fashion. (For instance I love the new Coach summer bags and have thought about sewing a heavy canvas bag and adding some beads to it to get “the look” for less. Would I be guilty of copying them or is this simply using their designs for inspiration?)

          I will have to look for the book you recommended because I can’t find much on-line in the way of evidence that the people who produce or sell fake handbags take part in other criminal activities. I agree that it makes sense that they would be, but I don’t like to accept something as “fact” unless I see strong evidence supporting it.

          • Keitha Duhaney June 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

            Inspiration is fine, because everyone is inspired by the things and people around them. I am constantly inspired in my everyday life and I am pretty sure your bag will come out great. I am only talking about blatantly stealing someones design or logo as you also mentioned.

            Here is another article written by Dana Thomas for the NY Times in 2007:


            BTW great post, it sparked a great conversation.

  23. Corinne June 27, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    Hey Heather!
    Complicated subject!! My personal stance on it is I would rather have a cute bag rather than a look-a-like because 1. people who really are into fashion will immediately know the difference & I’d rather buy a “real” one if I could, although I must say obvious brand name bags have never had much of a pull for me 2. because of the ethical issues counterfeits are linked to and 3. because I’m a designer myself and, although LV or Prada probably aren’t losing much by knock-offs, I just feel like it’s stealing and making money off of someone else’s idea and hard work… But, that’s just my opinion – I think it’s totally up to each individual to make the choice that they feel is right for them.

    Corinne xo

    • Heather Fonseca June 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

      Thanks Corinne. It seems that most people who have commented agree with you and I do agree that it’s a complicated subject!

  24. Madeline Quaint June 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    What a great post! Kudos for you to go and search for the bags! 🙂

    I actually really like the green bag and the story with the separately sold tags – wow! at least the seller doesn’t want to make you believe that his stuff is the real thing…

    I’ve never bought either real or knock off luxury bags. For me a well-made, locally designed and made bag is worth much more than a luxury brand. I find it difficult to support the wearing of bags whose price would feed entire families for months. I wish rich people would think twice before buying such a bag (the nth one) and rather give the money to charity… Haha, I’m the socialist fashionista. So I definitely don’t think that buyers of knock-offs should be punished!

    • Heather Fonseca June 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

      I don’t mind wealthy people buying super expensive bags, mostly because I’ve worked as a sales person and those people essentially funded my pay check! I do love the idea of supporting local designers and businesses but it’s not always easy to find things that are made here in the U.S. In fact, by buying those two purses I was supporting the local economy in a weird way. I purchased them at a small, locally owned store run by a father and his daughters. In a weird way it seemed like a step up from Target where I usually buy everything.

  25. Hugo June 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    “You cannot fake chic but you can be chic and fake fur.”
    — Karl Lagerfeld

    If you can fake fur, you can fake anything.

  26. Célèste June 30, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Great post. As far as my morals are concerned, I don’t like to cary fakes and I hate that the ubiquitousness of fakes like LVs means that even real ones don’t really look stylish anymore because people are just trying to figure out if they’re fake.

    I own one vintage Chanel (real) and one fake Hermès Kelly. I allowed myself to get the fake because, for one, an Hermès is absolutely nothing I will ever in a million years be able to actually own, but I love the timeless style and the iconic look of it. Another thing is that fake Hermès aren’t that common, especially where I live, so most people who see it don’t even know what it is. There’s no big obvious logo or anything, so when people see it they’re first thought is “cute bag” not “is it real?” In fact, people tell me it’s cute all the time, people who clearly have no idea what it is, and that makes me happy.

    Also, it’s leather. Fakey fake bags made of cheap fabric are just pointless in my opinion.

    • Heather Fonseca July 8, 2011 at 7:34 am #

      Oh I know what you mean about fake LV bags. It’s the same way here. I’d love to see your faux Hermes. It sounds very beautiful. I would have loved to have found some leather bags, but where I was shopping there weren’t any, at all, anywhere.

  27. bagware house
    October 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Great word press blog here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you! take care

  28. Julia
    March 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    This is a very detailed and awesome post.. agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I don’t think buying fake handbags should be a crime, but I’m definitely not for the idea of the whole concept, in terms of just moral issue. Just my thoughts though..
    Julia recently posted..Kipling Defea HandbagMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca March 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

      I’m so glad you liked the post! The last time I went to santee alley there were no counterfeit bags at all, so I’m glad I did my research before they all disappeared.

  29. Red March 29, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Interesting post! DH was in Shanghai back in 2010, and he couldn’t stop himself from purchasing several fakes. (How he got them through customs, I’ll never know.) I have a fake brown Chanel bag like the one pictured, and it’s already coming apart. I have a fake Gucci that has held up pretty well. He brought home a couple of Vuittons, too.

    I don’t know why he felt compelled to buy them; I guess because he could. I’m not a “bag” lady, so the sentiment was lost on me. In fact, I haven’t used either bag in a while. When I carry a purse, lately I’ve been carrying one given to me by one of my children for Christmas; it came from Target.

    He did buy me a Fossil messenger bag (a real one) for Christmas last year. It, I really love. The quality is top-notch, and I carry my laptop in it.

    Having a designer handbag really isn’t my style, and thinking about where those things probably came from — from some sweatshop — makes me want to throw them away now.

    • Heather Fonseca March 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Hi Red! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Lots of things come from sweatshops, and although I’ve heard rumors about child labor and other icky stuff surrounding fake bags I haven’t seen any evidence of it. I think one really wants a designer bag one should save up and buy one. On the other hand your bags do have sentimental value! Even though i don’t use mine very often I’ll still keep them because they have happy memories attached to them.

  30. Patricia Streeter
    April 29, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    I really enjoyed this post. I did a paper about this issue my sophmore year of college. What makes it hard to crack down on these things is fashion is essentially knocking off of each other. If we look back at The Devil Wears Prada, its a trickle down effect. In Theory the high-end inspires the catalogue industry. This post is important because, some people do not realize they are purchasing fake bags. For those who don’t its sad because they are buying this for someone or themselves. The photos and tips on how to find a fake are awsome. I love to check out your archives to see what I’ve missd.
    Patricia Streeter recently posted..Where to buy Dansko Marah Shoes?My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      I wonder how many people who buy fakes really think they’re buying the real thing. The fakes I saw were very low-end so it was obvious, but I’m sure better quality fakes are out there somewhere. Personally I think if one really wants a designer one should either save up to buy the real thing, or do what I do and buy them second-hand. In fact, it’s getting really hard to buy the fakes at all these days, so one day it might be the only way to get a designer bag is to buy the real thing!

  31. cherry4death May 6, 2012 at 5:37 am #

    i don’t understand what is so wrong with buying “perfect fake”, just why on earth will i pay more money for the real thing if only expert can tell, when no everyday u and me could tell.
    i doute that every one infact most of fake is funding the underworld… i think i places such as china, the little money that is made of them is what helping the poor to just feed their hungry family each night. I am sorry for being bought up in world fill with greed and pride, where you are judge and make prejudement on what we own and wear by everyone now days. i am on a budget like eveyone else, why can’t i want to look rich and high class when i have a chance to. i feel no guilt or shame couse dispite all the fakes out there ripping the big names off, they are still making their billions after billions of profits each week. you can call be uneducated or unreasonable but i see no wrong in the poor or working class wants to look rich and classicy. Is just make be laugh when the extreamly rich will pay for limited items that cost million due to being rare and i just go and buy one for $500 rmb for one that look 95-98% counterfit of it.

    so what, they say that the real is done by hands well so is the counterfits, i heard that the people making the “a-class” also uses high quality mertrials, they too take pride in their art. So i don’t see why not geting in geting the same good for only 2-6% of the price

    • Heather Fonseca May 6, 2012 at 10:20 am #

      Hi Cherry, I think we all need to decide what is right for us as individuals. If carrying a fake designer handbag will make you feel good about yourself and you don’t feel any shame in doing so then I don’t see why you shouldn’t do it. I know the design houses that are being ripped off aren’t very happy about counterfeits, but as you say they are making a ton of money anyway. During my research on the subject I found no evidence of criminal activity (other than copyright infringement, which is of course illegal.) or links to child labor associated with fake designer handbags. If I had found evidence I would avoid fake bags for sure.
      I actually carry the green one around a lot, though I kind of wish it didn’t have the little fake logo on it. I just like the design.

  32. Joy Ella May 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    I am a buyer at a designer/high[er] end fashion resale shop and a large part of my day is spent trying to authenticate designer handbags (mostly Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Kate Spade, and the like. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, etc do make regular appearances, though not as often). I used to have to spend 10-15 minutes studying our authentication guides every time a customer brought in a designer bag but after a few months, I can spot a knockoff from a mile away. Although rare, there are some excellent counterfeits out there, mostly bought overseas it seems, and some are so good, only an expert going over every detail with great scrutiny could tell it is counterfeit.

    I had to chuckle as I read your aversion to items made in China (and agree it is almost impossible to find even authentic designer items made anywhere else) as just today I passed on a [very obvious] fake Prada leather hobo today which sported the same Prada tag featured above, but when I opened the purse to check the lining, there was a plain white “Made in China” tag on the seam (all authentic Prada bags, as I’m sure you know, are made in Italy). I didn’t know what was funnier, the fact that the counterfeiter included it during manufacture, or that the person who had been carrying it around all this time didn’t think it befitting to remove it (especially since the Prada logo tag says “Made in Italy” in case there might be any doubt). I thought you might get a kick out of that one. Although, after learning about your experience buying a counterfeit, it’s probable that the bag wasn’t necessarily manufactured as a Prada knockoff and the logo was added as it was to the bag you purchased for your story.

    Great topic, interesting conversation, a very controversial topic these days. To answer your questions though, I think counterfeits of any highly sought after but difficult to acquire items of any nature are inevitable. It’s almost part of the industry itself as counterfeits are typically only bought by people who could not, or would not, ever buy the real thing so they aren’t really hurting the original designers, and counterfeits seem to make attaining the “real thing” even more prestigious. I mean, telling people that “yes, it’s a real [insert brand name here]” has almost become more of a boast than the brand name by itself.
    On the making it illegal to buy counterfeit, I would think the law should treat counterfeit handbags the same as they do pirated movies and music (although I think buying neither one should come with a harsh penalty to the consumer; confiscation and a small fine seems fair as knowingly buying something that one knows to be “stolen” is technically stealing as far as the law is concerned).
    That being said, I have owned a counterfeit although I did not know it was a counterfeit. I bought one from my boss out of the trunk of her car as a teenager only because she was my boss and seemed so adamant that I should buy one. I didn’t even know what a Louis Vuitton was at the time (although with all I know now, it actually was an almost perfect replica if not for the quality…one of the handles broke off at the seam on one end after a few months of wear) and I bought it for $60. I actually felt ashamed of it when I carried it around because people thought it was real (making me feel like a fraud) and because I grew up dirt poor, my friends were all hippies/punks/rebels and the impression that purse gave people of me was not at all who I really was. I eventually just threw it away. I have never been into labels and ,to be honest, the hardest part of my job is pretending to give a hoot about designer brands. (Be that as it may, while I personally don’t understand why people buy and carry around stuff they would otherwise not like if not for the label, I certainly don’t judge those who do.)
    To clarify, if affordable, I would just as soon buy a designer item as an off-brand if I liked it, for the quality, or convenience. Just because I don’t care about labels doesn’t mean I’m anti-labels! I’ve actually got my eye on a couple of B.Makowsky bags, waiting for a sale. His leather is like buttah’ and the colors are so gorgeous!

    Okay, I’m pretty sure this comment is almost as long as your article. Sorry to get carried away. I didn’t realize what I was getting into! Great story on an [obviously] hot topic.
    Joy Ella recently nautical nails. details to come (gotta get to work!)My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca June 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

      Thank you so much for your wonderful and thoughtful comment. I love resale and consignment stores and do a lot of my shopping at them. Of course you can’t sell fakes any more than any other store can sell them, so you must have to make certain they’re the real thing. It’s good to know that you check carefully. Usually when people e-mail me as to where they can purchase a fake bag I suggest they look for an genuine piece sold second hand. They’re much more affordable slightly used!

  33. Ramia August 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    I am from idaho…a sparse country in the usa no one seems to know of…that has no designer bags let alone fake ones. However, the commercials about child labor etc. have me a little bugged.
    1…if buying leather bags on ebay from china, that do not purport to be fakes, am I contributing to this problem.
    2… How do I know if these companies are not using child labor, or for that fact, protecting their workers from unfair labor practices?
    3…Why do designer bags cost SOOOO much like the S100,000 bag that francesca eastwood cut up. I mean really WHY??

    • Heather Fonseca August 7, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      Hi Ramia, I’m not an expert but here’s my opinion. 1) Buying anything made in China runs the risk of accidentally purchasing something made by children. China does not have the best human rights record, so if that’s important to you only buy products made in the U.S.A or countries where there are more stringent manufacturing laws. 2) see answer #1. 3) Designer bags are expensive because they can be, and because this is the way the brands stay prestigious. It has very little to do with the cost of manufacturing the bag, though I do know designer bags are usually of better quality and use real leather rather than vinyl.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment!

  34. Carmen Miller September 13, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Great post! I think also I had to learn the difference between knock-offs and “designer inspired” bags. I have 100’s of bags that look “kinda” like Chloe bags, Jimmy Choo and others, but they don’t have logos and don’t claim to be them. Knock-off will actually slap the logo on. I learned a lot from this post. Thanks girl!

    • Heather Fonseca September 13, 2012 at 9:01 am #

      You’re welcome Carmen! I’m glad the post was informative.

  35. kacey December 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    I purchased my Louis Vuttion knock offs in europe, they can stand next to the real bag with no problem! I hate the bad fakes, but I love the mirror image bags that look awesome!

    • Heather Fonseca December 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

      I’ve never seen a good fake for sale. The one’s here are pretty bad.

  36. MaryBeth December 30, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    I also purchased a bag by a street vendor several years ago in NYC after seeing similar bags all over Italy one year and regretting not buying one.
    My Mom is VERY purse picky and took a liking to it so I gave it to her this year thinking I could probably go one line and find another….. but… am still searching. It’s actually hard to find a fake Prada on purpose. Hell I’d even spring for a used real one if I could find one like the one I bought on the street. It was basically a small tote with four panels of leather, cream, tan, red and black so it went with everything.. Sigh../ If any one knows of this one.. I am interested.

    • Heather Fonseca December 31, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

      Hi MaryBeth. I’m sorry you can’t find your perfect purse. That must be frustrating! I noticed when I was shopping that some “knock off” bags are just bags with a logo stuck on them. It’s possible that you can’t find the real Prada bag because there is no real Prada bag. My best advice to you is to just look for any purse that looks kind of like the one you want!

  37. Heather May 9, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Ive found the best knock offs from Best of Baileys…check her out.

  38. Jen Jones June 26, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    I’m disgusted that you have written such a long post about something that is illegal, morally reprehensible, condoning theft WITH citations, and acknowledging your support of terrorism with the common suburban excuse of “it’s not hurting anyone.” In fact it is. It is supporting terrorists, drug cartels, child labor, sweat shops, and slavery. It robs the economy (that people like you constantly lament about hurting your budgets) of BILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR and countless jobs in turn. I’m thoroughly disgusted that you would publish this.

    • Heather Fonseca June 30, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Did you read the post, or are you just offended that anyone would write anything at all on the subject of counterfeit handbags? When I researched the post I found no evidence linking counterfeit merchandise to terrorism, drug cartels or slavery (other than people like you saying it is, but that’s not evidence, that’s gossip.) If anything it looks like the bags are made in China like just about everything else, and like most apparel there are issues with sweat shops and child labor, but that surrounds the whole of the fashion industry. My personal advice to anyone who wants a designer purse is to save the money to buy the real thing, or if that’s out of their reach to purchase one second-hand at a consignment store or on e-bay. And if that’s too much money as well there are lots and lots of cute purses out there to choose from.

      • Jen Jones July 18, 2013 at 7:54 am #

        Wow. You are incredible. Only made in china? Really? Google. Use it. I don’t have time to educate people like you. I hope you get busted some day. I wish you had some concept of garment row in NYC. It’s pretty much gone. Do you think it’s gone because all those trades and manufactures wanted it to be? I bet your one of those great Americans that like to complain about the economy and lack if jobs too….. Jesus. Go back to school. Learn how to research. This post makes me sick.

        • Heather Fonseca July 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

          Wow. Someone’s angry. And what exactly do you mean by “busted”? Busted for having written a post you don’t agree with? I’m pretty sure I’m covered my the US constitution on that one. Or maybe I should be busted because I own a few fake designer bags, mostly gifts? Do you usually get this worked up when you read an opinion that differs from yours?

          Don’t expect any more of your comments to be approved. I don’t mind differences of opinion, which is why your first two comments are visible, but I don’t like being harassed or threatened. Go be angry somewhere else.

  39. Uc July 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Hello Heather,

    I found this blog post whilst searching for something online and I felt compelled to leave a comment. Recently, I bought a real Lambskin quilted (red) chain bag in style of Chanel 2.55 jumbo and I paid $185 for it. It is so well made and beautiful. I’ll carry my bag with pride because I cannot afford a vintage jumbo Chanel (going for 3-5k) by the way. I chose this route because it’s well made and non branded as well. I think that’s what I love the most about it. No fake CC on it.

    I read the article about child labor but really most brands use child labor so it isn’t only exclusive to knock offs. I have nothing against knockoffs. Zara makes knockoffs. This is a fact! Once high end designers release their lookbook bam! Zara jumps on it and makes theirs. Bloggers wear it with pride don’t they? You see where I’m going with this?

    Personally, I rather buy a well made quality non-branded bag in style of whatever designer I wish I could afford.

    • Heather Fonseca July 30, 2013 at 8:41 am #

      I think buying a well made, quality purse or handbag is always a good route to take. The little logo isn’t all that important for style. It’s really just there to tell the world how much money the wearer spent to own the bag. I do like the idea of buying designer purses at consignment stores and I’ve seen some beauties recently. Unfortunately even second hand I can’t afford them! So good for you for finding something fabulous, affordable and well made.

  40. sell handbags August 1, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    Wonderful Post!! While I’m not a big fan of designer handbags, I do not think it should be a crime to buy them and make them great collection of our wardrobe.
    I really think it is very challenging task for you to write about fake designer handbags.

  41. Kelly N. Halloran August 12, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Be practical about the price — designer bags cost a great deal of cash since they are decently created and they’re status symbol. In the event that the cost is so exceptional it is not possibly original, then it is, and the bag’s a knock-off.

    • Heather Fonseca August 12, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      It’s true Kelly. Even at resale stores real designer bags are not cheap!

  42. Gladys November 11, 2013 at 1:06 am #

    Totally agree with you, It should never be considered as a crime. Not all people can afford those extravagant bags from Saks. I actually think those designer bags are over priced. And not all women know the name of brands. People actually buy because they simply need a stunning bag that will last, which they can afford. I buy in this kind of streets but sometimes to save all the trouble I would just go to Poshmoda to buy what I want.

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      Hi Gladys, I think most designer bags are overpriced as well, but if they can ask for those prices, and people will pay for them, I guess it makes good business sense!

  43. Ellinhor November 15, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    I own genuine bags from Chanel and replicas from PM. sometimes I would stare at my inspired bags and just smile because I never thought I could save huge amount to have such amazing quality bags. They all just make me happy. That’s it!

    • Heather Fonseca November 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      Hi Ellinhor, it’s nice that you’ve been able to find quality replica bags. Most of the ones I see are poorly made, but I know there must be some out there that rival the real thing.

  44. Kelly sellers December 4, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    I recently got into the handbag thing. I’ve purchased several (authentic) coach bags. But recently I’ve come across Michael kors, I found a bag that I really really like. But it’s a knock off. I can’t find a real Michael kors bag that is pink like it. Is it morally wrong that I have full intentions to buy a knock off that I’m dying to have?

    • Heather Fonseca December 7, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      Hi Kelly, Well, personally I don’t think it’s immoral to buy a knock off bag. Yes, the manufacturing of the bags might not make us consumers feel warm and fuzzy, but if we looked at how the vast majority of our (legal) clothing, home wares and electronics were produced we’d probably be horrified. On the other hand if you really want a pink Michael Kors bag you could probably find a real one on Ebay, or wait until his spring line comes out to see what colors are available. Sometimes a “quest” item like the perfect pink purse can be a really fun thing.

  45. Kathleen April 12, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    It has always been a crime to sell counterfeit goods. Counterfeiting is stealing and, just like buying or being in possession of stolen property is a crime, so should purchasing counterfeit bags. It is no different!

    The standard introduced in the bill is “knowingly”, a hapless tourist would not necessarily fall into the trap. But if you go there to purchase a fake bag, you deserve it for being a part of this creepy underworld organization.

    If you can’t afford a designer brand, don’t buy it. Why pretend to be something you’re not? Be your own person and stop being a slave to a label.

    • Heather Fonseca June 9, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

      Well I agree Kathleen, but how can you tell the people who know they’re purchasing a fake bag from the hapless tourists?

  46. Anna B May 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    This article was amusing. I’m not sure you’re right about designer clothes, but not bags, trickling down economically. In stores like H&M, and Zara I think you can find knockoff designs at very low prices. Especially with designer collaborations, they usually include accessories in the collections that can be found at places like TopShop, Target, H&M… It also seems like almost every designer has a lower priced line or two in addition to their signature couture line. However, I think that people should just be patient and wait until they’re older and actually have status to wear status symbols. There are so many other cute trendy items out there that don’t have high end designer logos on them. You don’t actually need Chanel to be fashionable, so what’s the rush?

  47. Grace Tee December 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Last week I purchase designer handbags on black market I do not know if it is knock off or not. I simply look at the style and design. But I really like to have this.
    Grace Tee recently posted..DESIGNER CLUTCH BAG – $11.00My Profile

  48. Dawn February 16, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    To all the people who think buying counterfeits is okay…. What about the fairness to the designers whose names are being used and bastardized by the counterfeiters to make money? Just… To hell with them??????????

  49. Laura September 5, 2015 at 3:47 am #

    Hello.. i’m from indonesia. Leather is actually pretty cheap here. You can easily find a genuine leather purse for way under $100. I just bought a nice wallet for my hubby for less than $10 in genuine leather. We dont use child labor. Period. And i’m vr sure no such thing as organized crime blah blah blah involved. These are just common small home industries filled with dilligent, plain but talented ppl. So they are low paid. Low as comparison to the labors in the west or even as compared to their counterparts in a more industrialized parts of the country but enough to make a decent living in their respective provinces. So sometimes they may be requested to make pieces that copy the design of some famous, extremely well off designers. I bought a really nice lv replica not so long ago with genuine leather that patinated vr nicely. What doesnt make sense is if such a nice piece can be well manufactured at a cost less than $20 than what’s all about that hefty price tags that the lv company is pushing to its loyal customers? Almost a grand for marketing, royalty and what? Not yet to mention the decrease in quality and the senseless price increase every half of a year.. i even heard that some high end brands hv started manufacturing in china and here. With such a trend i wont be surprised if in a few more years some older replicas will be better in quality than some new authentics. Hope these kinds of voicing can encourage those respected high end brands to really pay attention to the quality of their products. Oh, their crazily priced products. Vr nice work you’ve done here.. tx.

  50. leather bags Manila Philippines September 10, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    From my experience, women who buy designer bags with their own money for their own use often purchase it as a reward to themselves for working hard, saving up, celebrating a milestone, or even just ‘retail therapy’. Some do it out of addiction.

  51. Louisa Banks December 25, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    buy original designer bags (brand new and fairly used) for cheap, all brands available, bags can also be gotten on request. email

  52. Henry Jone January 31, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    where there is buying,there are markets


  1. Post picked for IFB’s Links a la Mode | For Those About To Shop - June 23, 2011

    […] The Style Confession: Knock Off or Not […]

  2. Suggested Reading: 6.24.11 | Suggested Reading | Stylish Thought - June 24, 2011

    […] The Style Confession: Knock Off or Not […]

  3. Links A La Mode: June 23rd, 2011 « FIERCE - June 24, 2011

    […] The Style Confession: Knock Off or Not […]

  4. The best fashion blog posts of the week! | Style Confessions - June 25, 2011

    […] The Style Confession: Knock Off or Not […]

  5. Links a la Mode Feature: June 16th - June 26, 2011

    […] The Style Confession: Knock Off or Not […]

  6. IFB’s Links a la Mode « UN-stitched - June 28, 2011

    […] The Style Confession: Knock Off or Not […]

  7. Fashion Sinner | Style Confessions - July 14, 2011

    […] post is something of a follow-up to “Knock off or Not“, an article I wrote on the subject of counterfeit handbags. My plan was to schedule this to post […]

  8. Fast Fashion: How I succumbed to a fashion trend that won't last - July 9, 2012

    […] Purse – Santee Alley (Read all about my adventures in the land of counterfeit purses here.) […]

  9. Stripes and Dots - March 27, 2013

    […] purse from Santee Alley (I originally wrote about it in this article about counterfeit […]

  10. The Blue Bag Purse Caper – Just Another Sunny Day in Rome figuring out where the Knock-Off Purses Come From | Adventures in Europe 2014 - May 18, 2014

    […] found this article from L.A., where the author talked about having a label put into a bag while she watched.  Maybe […]

  11. Popular Is Selling Replica Handbags Illegal In The Usa | Buy Popular Handbags - February 21, 2015

    […] Knock-off or Not? The Debate Over Fake Designer Handbags – I have no idea if this Chanel bag I saw on the street was a knock off or not, but I’m leaning toward it being one of the fake designer handbags that proliferates …… […]

  12. Fashion News | am pm fashion designer bags coach - January 15, 2016

    […] Knock-off or Not? The Debate Over Fake Designer Handbags […]