In Defense of Counterfeit Goods

High Snobiety recently ran a story entitled “Is Counterfeiting Actually Good for Fashion?” And, spoiler alert, the writer says yes.

Disregarding a litany of very real concerns surrounding counterfeits — more on that later — the writer argues that there are a number of reasons that brands, manufacturers, and consumers should essentially be grateful for the existence of knocked-off goods.

“What legitimate manufacturers often refuse to acknowledge is that counterfeiting actually provides them with free advertising,” the writer claims. He then goes on to posit that fakes can act as “gateway purchases” and that the only real moral umbrage one could take “lies in the assumption that knockoffs cannibalize a brand’s potential profits.”

And while this thesis may seem sound-ish – consumers get what they want (cheap goods), brands get advertising for free, and no one gets hurt except for robber baron fashion designers – the argument completely ignores the most problematic elements of the counterfeit industry.

For starters, counterfeit goods have been known to fund terrorist groups. What’s more, factories producing counterfeits operate without the oversight of anyone — because they’re making fakes — and thus can’t be audited for any sort of malpractice.

To argue that, “counterfeits exist in their own independent market, and it only partially overlaps with the legitimate economy,” is to turn a blind eye to the myriad social and environmental damages caused by that market.

You can read more about it at High Snobiety.

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