It’s only fair that a writer concede any prejudice in the fabric of an opinion piece, especially when it comes to something as important as fashion. Keeping up with changing trends in the design of clothing, accessories, jewelry… those exertions are what make life exciting for many. Without fashion constantly dictating what we should look like and buy, many would be adrift.
So I’m disclosing at the top here that in the last few years, I’ve taken to wearing mostly jeans and knit golf shirts, neither of which have changed in design in several decades. The last trend-dependent clothing item I purchased was probably a black t-shirt, in anticipation of a Talking Heads concert. I’m saying, fashion-wise, I’m Amish.
Maybe that explains my ambivalence when I read that there was a huge ‘bust’ in the downtown Los Angeles fashion district. LAPD’s Central Division vice squad swooped in and seized counterfeit handbags, glasses, belts, and other accessories. If the merchandise had been real, it would sell for $18 million.
As you probably know, counterfeit fashion items are a hot market, especially in trend-tastic Los Angeles where customers seem to enjoy beating the system and getting look-alike goods at far cheaper prices than they would pay for what is commonly referred to as “the real thing,” licensed fashion with legitimate labels.
That counterfeits and “real” fashion items are manufactured in the same parts of the world by the same low wage workers seems to matter not a whit to any of the parties involved. That upon close inspection, it can often be impossible to detect any measurable diminution in the actual quality of counterfeits over “real” also seems unimportant. So we’re left with what appears to matter most: Labels that indicate some perceived sense of taste – or “fashion”– on the part of the customer who ultimately owns the item.
If that specific impact, that compliment, can be obtained from fake goods just as easily as from real, doesn’t anybody want to stop a second and consider the entire modus operandi of so-called “fashion?”
I guess not, because I never make much headway with this argument when I bring it up at parties. Nobody likes to hear about the incredible mark up on such things as designer eyewear. Nobody can satisfactorily explain to me how a t-shirt at Banana Republic goes from $35 to $10 in four short months. I remain mystified at the pricing of a Versace scarf when compared to something equally pragmatic such as a bandana handkerchief.
An LA Times article on the counterfeit goods raid quoted an attorney for Chanel who was present at the bust. She noted that handbags are often shipped to the U.S. from China bearing no logos or labels. Once in the U.S., a fake Chanel logo will be clipped onto the bags and now you have counterfeit fashion that stirs the blood of shoppers. A vial that read “A-1 Top Quality Dope” would not persuade even the most addled drug addict. But fashion is different.
LAPD officials concede that the police and the public have played along for some time with the presence of counterfeit goods on Los Angeles streets. But now police believe that the sale of fakes sustains “a conspiracy of theft” that can extend to organized crime. As far as getting back the hard-earned cash you’ve lost to the mark-ups and margins on legitimate “fashion” merchandise, you’re still on your own.
This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz
1) The Pope was confronted about;
(a) Vatican Holocaust documents.
(b) his solid-gold nail clippers.
(c) his whalebone pocket comb.
2) Striking Northwest Airline
(a) kinda, sorta work on planes.
(b) be replaced with outside vendors.
(c) not deal with that “blue water”.
3) Rising gas prices could lead to
(a) an increase in cab fares.
(b) Nascar becoming “Nasbike”.
(c) some realization about oil companies.
1) (a) “Hey, I just got here!”
2) (b) “What’s this flappy thing…?”3) (a) “Delightful conversation: Still free!”