Life is a Catwalk: Will you fake it ‘til you make it?

Illustration by Lizzie Bailes visit for more info
Illustration by Lizzie Bailes visit for more info
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IF you can’t afford the latest piece of designer clobber do you a) save up over a long period to buy it? b) dream on? c) buy a look-a-like? or d) buy a fake?

Firstly I’d like highlight the distinction between a look-a-like and a fake. A look-a-like is a fashion item inspired by a designer piece, but it doesn’t claim to be the real thing. Fake counterfeit goods are those that falsely present themselves as designer, normally including copied branding.

I remember getting very excited when a couple of years ago I found an impressive look-a-like of Philip Lim and Christian Louboutin SS09 shoes, in Matalan. The real deal cost somewhere in the region of £2,000, the Matalan version, cost just £18. The only thing missing, besides real leather and a hefty price tag, was that unmistakable Louboutin red under-sole.

For almost 20 years Mr Louboutin has been creating red-soled shoes, and since then the red sole has become synonymous with the brand. This signature style was granted a trademark in 2008, but just last week a judge ruled that Yves Saint Laurent could also sell shoes with a red sole. This could potentially open up the market for high street brands to sell red-soled shoes in the future.

A bag, pair of shoes or a dress inspired by a designer is one thing, but fakes are a whole different game. These items claim to be the real thing at a cut of the price, and selling counterfeit items is illegal. Just this month the BBC reported that counterfeit designer clothing worth about £750,000 had been seized by the UK Border Agency during a month-long operation at Stansted Airport.

Although you can’t currently be prosecuted in the UK for buying fakes, it is important to remember they are inferior products. It has also been argued that this illegal trade funds organised crime.

I once heard the phrase ‘fake it until you make it’ – but until I can afford it, I’d prefer to buy items inspired by my favourite designers, rather than items that pretend to be them.