Fashion’s obsession with fakes and imitations takes on new life in 2022 | Bot To News


In 2022, fakeness seems to be the new fashion reality. Take, for example, Loewe’s spring 2023 collection, for which creative director Jonathan Anderson looked to artificiality as a source of inspiration. Surreal elements of science fiction were attached to dresses, shoes and bags. The designer put features of nature and everyday ephemera on full display, such as magnified fiberglass anthurium flowers attached to dresses; or uncluttered and pixelated t-shirts. Puppets and Puppets models wore bags taped with bananas, cookies and other fake food that looked hyperreal, and straight off a plate. After what seems like a lifetime of Hermès shopping, obsessions with luxury “It” bags, and Old Money TikTok content, trends have recently veered in the opposite direction: editors, stylists, and influencers have taken to shopping bags printed with Birkins splashed across them. in different shades, made by emerging brand XYLK. (The label calls it “not a fake Birkin, but a real grocery bag.”) Who could forget the subreddit where the rich go to pick up the best fake Birkin bags money can buy? Credit all of this to the memeification of fashion—or a growing penchant for all things tongue-in-cheek—but as the socio-political climate grows ever more surreal, fashion is embracing fakeness in a new way. Today, the ironic fake, as well as the subversive idea of ​​fakeness, plays with the concepts of luxury, class and the way of consuming fashion.

Of course, fashion and fakes go back a long way. “Pretending has been done for millennia,” says historian Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The most obvious connotation that comes to mind is the idea of ​​copycats, which made their way into the American consumer market as early as the early 1900s, when American designers would go to Paris with the specific intention of copying fashion there and bringing it back. Clothing didn’t even carry labels until the mid-1800s, when designers used them as a way to define authenticity. (Couturier Charles Frederick Worth is credited as the first designer to begin signing his name on his clothes during the 1860s.) Of course, this change encouraged the proliferation of imitations. Around 1913, French couturier Paul Poiret discovered illegal copies of his designs, down to the label, being sold for a fraction of the price in the United States.

Looks from Loewe’s spring 2023 collection.

Photo by Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images
Photo by Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images
Photo by Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images
Photo by Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images

But part of what makes fashion’s love affair with fakes so interesting is how the perception of copies has changed so widely. In fact, it was not always the case that fakes were thought of as a bad thing, and at this very moment, it seems that fashion is returning to this concept. “In America, for much of the 20th century, copying was not seen as a crime or as a bad thing, but as a selling point,” explains fashion historian Einav Rabinovitch-Fox. “Many department stores with their own lines, or major retail designers, advertised their products as ‘copies of Paris designs’ or as ‘like the dress seen in Hollywood.’ Many imitations were marketed as a way to democratize fashion and style for the masses; the aversion to counterfeits has always been there among those who have tried to maintain class and racial hierarchies.”

Chanel and Dior, for example, would sell a license to an American manufacturer to make a cheaper copy, even distributing the exact fabric and buttons from the 1940s, after WWII. “They would advertise it in the window: Chanel couture, $400, and the copy, $40,” adds Steel. Therefore, buying a dress with a designer brand has become a status symbol in itself. The concept of a logo and distinguishing the fake from the real did not exist for the average fashion consumer. “However, that changed with the rise of hip-hop and the fact that flaunting logos became a way to display your status symbol,” adds Rabinovitch-Fox.

This time, fashion’s obsession with fakes is more a celebration and reinvention of everything, and the idea of ​​artificiality as subversive, rather than simply publishing blatant copies.

A bag of cookies from Puppets and Puppets.

Photo by Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

For obvious reasons, fashion’s recent obsession with subversive fakery is intrinsic: “Fashion itself has often been described as artificial in comparison to other natural things,” says Steele. “The deliberate attraction to artificiality in fashion is a very sophisticated way of looking at fashion objects. Whereas deliberate copying is only an economic phenomenon.”

Another reason for the new generation to celebrate all things fake? We are currently in a unique period of lashing out at fast fashion. In 2022, publicly announcing that you shop at Shein means your moral compass is off…but the brand was even named the most popular label in the world this year. For the average consumer, shopping is not a moral activity. Still, many people’s perception of fast fashion has changed due to sustainability, human rights and labor issues.

Fashion is, in a way, mocking itself by making copies—whether of luxury products or everyday objects—and embracing them. One only has to look at the 2021 Gucci x Balenciaga Hacker project, which is about “exploring ideas of authenticity and appropriation,” to see that. The collection combined the heritage logos and signatures of Gucci and Balenciaga, as well as covering bags in hand-painted spray paint proclaiming “This is not a Gucci bag”, to resemble the kind of slightly dated item you’d find in the depths of the Canal Street in Manhattan. Historically, 2022 is primed for this kind of faux-shipping role reversal, so deeply imbued with irony. “Irony became a big factor in fashion from the 1980s,” says Steele. “People like to play with it because it’s a way to look smarter than the average Joe. It’s like, I know this is old fashioned, but I’m so fashionable that by virtue of wearing it, it becomes fashionable.”

A Paris Fashion Week attendee carries a bag with the slogan ‘You pretend like this Kelly’ outside the Chanel Spring 2023 show in France.

Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Much of this new falsehood also plays into the Y2K aesthetic that is still going strong. In the early 2000s, sales of fake designer handbags reached an all-time high, and the industry was hit with a major crackdown, associating imitations with being linked to illicit work and criminal activities. “In the early 2000s, designers embraced the fake because it helped them increase their market value and increase profits,” says Rabinovitch-Fox. “But that’s also the problem with the democratization of brands: if everyone can have them, even if it’s the fake version, they’re no longer exclusive and luxurious.”

As we enter what economists predict will be a massive recession, it’s an interesting time to look at fakes and artificiality as a fashion concept. Maybe it’s because we’re all looking for the next big thing to shock, or maybe the rise of fakeness has everything to do with our chronic online culture: staring at screens all day, showing only the best of the best, much of it filtered. . Rethinking the concept of the obvious fake in fashion feels strangely and authentically refreshing.



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