The Wrong Reasons to Not Buy Replica Bags (Must Read)

A Chinese worker at a factory in Prato, Italy.

Dear blog readers,

There are certain reoccurring reasons that people state prevent them from buying replica bags. Some authentic purists often even get offended when they hear other people may mix in a fake or two into their collection, and they begin to spurn a list of criticisms, three key ones which include:

  • The bags are made by factory workers in poor conditions in China (or another developing country).
  • The original brands make it with the care and love of a true artisan – that is why they deserve to be paid thousands of dollars for their art.
  • The bags support terrorists, gangs, and every other despicable organization out there.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are good reasons not to buy replicas of certain bags. For example there are certain bags I like to buy authentic because the embroidery or handwork is not something that I have seen eloquently created in the replica market. Or when a certain bag by a certain designer that I love is so fringe or non-popular that I know a replica manufacturer cannot get perfectly right (hence why I recommend sticking with many popular models when it comes to shopping for replica bags).

Some of my friends get duplicate fake bags of their real ones, simply because they don’t want to worry about their thousand dollar investment getting dirty or deteriorating quickly. So I definitely understand that there are situations where it is better to buy authentic, while there are other situations where it is better to buy fake.

However the key point I am trying to make here is that this air of snobbery and those oft mentioned criticism I listed above are not justified, especially after the damning New Yorker article which was released recently, which makes explicit the fact that all of our favorite designers, whether it be Gucci, Prada, or even Chanel, outsource their work to Chinese factories that are located in Europe. The article even states that many of these brands outsourced their work directly to Asia at certain points, before they realized they could not do that and simultaneously label their products “Made in Italy”.

I find the article very ironic because very so often on this blog I notice that in the comments certain individuals pop up and use luxury or designer goods as a tool to attack others, try to elevate themselves, and essentially use it as a mechanism to deem themselves superior. Examples include:

This prominent niche of people who I call orthodox authentic shoppers like to think they have a certain air of moral superiority when it comes to buying strictly authentic bags. And this is what is wrong. These are the biggest shockers I read in the article (you can read the original by clicking here):

1.Workers employed to make bags for top brands (e.g. Gucci) work in very poor conditions.

Based on the price tag people tend to naturally assume that the bags are made by artisans who are paid well and who treated like humans. This is wrong. The article highlights how many workers work in poor conditions where they are yelled at to meet quotas, work long hours, and sometimes are not even paid for their work (which has lead to protests against certain factories). Read this snippet from the article:

One of the employees who protested later told me that he had been paid only twelve hundred euros a month, with no benefits, to work in a freezing-cold room. He remembered working on products for companies including Ferragamo, Prada, and Dior. The crew chief, he said, “would scream at us to work faster, to get more pieces done.” (The employees were officially paid a higher salary, to comply with the law, but, according to a union representative, managers required them to withdraw their “extra” wages and give that money to the owner.)

2. Most designer products are made by Chinese workers in a town called Prato, Italy.

Factories import workers from China as well as other developing countries to work in factories in Prato which have deals with top brands to make their goods.

3. If 2 steps of the manufacturing process take place in Italy then a product can be labelled “Made in Italy”

This allows designer brands to outsource the remaining steps to countries with cheap labour in order to maximize their profits. In the ‘90s brands would make their goods from start to finish in China or Eastern European countries (where labour costs are lower than Europe) and lie to their consumers labelling their products “Made in Italy”. They stopped when they were caught.

4. It costs Gucci about $75 USD per bag.

Read this snippet to see how much it costs per average Gucci bag produced:

Arturo took me through the economics of doing work for luxury-fashion brands. He was paid a set fee for an order, no matter how long it took to complete. He generally lost money on the first bags he finished, but his workers got much faster with repetition, and the later iterations were profitable. When he was fulfilling Gucci contracts, he said, the company paid him an average of nineteen euros an hour. He showed me a bag that featured the company’s insignia fabric, with its interlocking “G”s, and said, “This fabric would cost fifteen euros a metre. But they make millions and millions of metres, so they don’t pay fifteen. Maybe ten. The leather here costs maybe fifteen to twenty euros. It’s two euros for the zipper, plus the money they pay us—that’s the cost. And they put it on the market at between ten and fifteen times that cost.”

And another:

In 2014, an Italian artisan spoke to the investigative television journalist Sabrina Giannini. Gucci had given him a big contract, he said, but the pay was so low—twenty-four euros a bag—that he had subcontracted the work to a Chinese mill, where employees worked fourteen-hour days and were paid half what he made. When the bags made it to stores, they were priced at between eight hundred and two thousand dollars.


The Bottom Line

I could go on and on and on about how this article debunks a lot of myths about authentic bags being made, but that’s unnecessary.

The prime take away from this all is that there are wrong reasons not to buy replicas, and right ones. The ones discussed in this article are the wrong reasons not to buy replicas.

Another key takeaway is that as much one covets designer brands they are a business at the end of the day – i.e. a money making enterprise, and as a result we should not fetishize these brands to the point where we forget that they too can have disheartening manufacturing practices. There is a big percentage of “fugazee” when it comes to luxury goods.

What do you think of the story? Leave a comment below as I’d love to know!

15 thoughts on “The Wrong Reasons to Not Buy Replica Bags (Must Read)

  1. Mila says:

    This so sad to hear. These companies always increase their prices too justifying it by saying their costs are high. I think that the labour market in fashion is a sad state of affairs generally.

  2. Susan says:

    Your information is always enlightening. You give the information and let people decide for themselves
    A really good site to know how some of the vendors are trrrible or just plain dishonest thanks

    • thepursequeen says:

      Thank you Susan! I am so happy you find the blog informative. I know it’s really hard to shop for replicas out there, and there a lot scams so we have to stick together as shoppers! 🙂

  3. Denean says:

    This is exactly why I lose no sleep when I buy a replica. People have started complaining about the quality of the LV Neverfull.

    • thepursequeen says:

      Agreed. I read in the purseforum of complaints with new materials they have been using since Feb. 2017 and people have complained of things like glazing was chipping off where the strap ring hits it. Canvas splitting from a stitch on the flap joint. I mean if the bag was actually super high quality and was truly made by generational artisans the price could be justified mentally for myself; but since that is not the case it is quite hard to justify the price!

  4. zhxny says:

    I’ve read that article too. Honestly I feel a lot of individuals use luxury bags as a way of propping themselves up, to feel superior to others. The use of the excuse that “replicas fund terrorism” may have been true in the 90s if you were buying a replica from the Women’s Market in HK but in reality, how different are the factories that manufacture authentic bags versus replica bags?

    With the decline in quality of bags these days it’s hard to really justify the absurd prices that brands are charging.

    • thepursequeen says:

      Thank you for your comment! I always chuckle when people mention it funds terrorism because you have to really stretch your mental reasoning to get to a point where that even seems believable in this day and age. The reality is most rep operations are done by individuals and factories that have experience in the authentic industry (I wouldn’t be surprised if most have worked at Prato factories where they learn the tricks of the trade) and then transfer their skills over to the rep sector.

  5. SIA says:

    Well written, thank you. A debate I often find myself revisiting over and over.

    The irony lies in the reality that money is acquired through a variety of means. Many who purchase the authentic designer goods are also recipients of said money laundering and other illegal forms of business, (drugs, terrorism, etc.). Hmm. Let’s ponder that one, shall we?
    After all, what percentage of the population can actually afford a $20K+ (& I do mean PLUS) Hermes bag? Or even those $4K Chanels, YVS’, and Mr. LV, himself? Let’s get real here and I don’t mean via good old credit card & its monthly installments.

    Choice is subjective: you either turn a blind eye and accept buying into the 100s of percentages of mark-ups on the “$75.00” cost-Gucci bag at $2300.00+ or give no care in the world to the opinions of others and do as you wish. Easy said than done, for many, I reckon.

    Those with elitist ideas and pompous, arrogant attitudes, hey! No one’s stopping them from continuing to fund those very heads of markets who’re involved in things they don’t know.. and those who care to get their fill through select replicas? To each their own; including their business. Everyone should mind their own; alas, such is not the world we live in.

    Great article, great resources you offer – and a big AUTHENTIC thank you 😉

    • thepursequeen says:

      Hi Sia, thank you for such a thoughtful response! I completely agree with all of your points, especially the fact that you mention purchasing fake, real, used, or whatever is a subjective choice at the end of the day that depends on a person’s particular circumstances, and we should simply let people make their choices for themselves without judging them either way! If a person wants to spend their hard earned money on the real deal, let them be. If a person wants to spend their hard earned money on a rep product, let them be!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s