By Joseph Rosenfeld
WHEN a Porsche passes by, there's no doubt the car is a Porsche. But when you shop on eBay or visit a vendor of questionable repute, do you know if the clothing you're buying is the real deal? It is driving me crazy to see so much fashion fakery out there. As if "faking it" in the bedroom was not bad enough, what has become of our cultural conscience to permit "faking it" to move into the public realm? It is not OK to fake your fashion. Society pays a high price for it.When a woman walks down the street trying to look all high and mighty with her counterfeit Chanel bag, with every step, she's trying to fake it to the world that she's "made it." And in the process of faking it to make it, she's contributing to a counterculture of social irresponsibility.
Maybe she's got access to so much cash that buying a fake is so much more fun than buying the real thing. If this is the case, it's really no different than the wealthy old ladies who get busted for stealing at Neiman Marcus. Or, maybe she doesn't even have enough to buy a real Coach bag, so she settles on a fake, cheap Chanel bag because although she's dying for the real thing, she's willing to fake it.
In the first half of 2007, U.S. customs seized 56 million dollars' worth of counterfeit footwear and apparel. Imagine what they weren't able to confiscate. During this same period, 81 percent of these bad goods came from China. Another 5 percent came from Hong Kong.
Then there are the fakes produced right here in the United States. In fact, status has become so important to today's youth that adolescent brand Abercrombie & Fitch has to resort to fighting fakes. A report in the fashion industry publication, DNR, indicated how the Lacoste company spent millions in legal fees in 2006 to seize 3 million units of fake Lacoste goods featuring the famous crocodile, but lacking the brand's famous quality.
Burberry successfully shut down a manufacturer that produced a cell phone skin designed to resemble the company's prized plaid design. Stupidly, people have clamored to cover their clamshell phones with a product the company never even produced.
If the shame of having to fake fashion isn't enough to stem counterfeits, then consider the wasted and abused world resources behind faux fashion—the nonsustaining plastics, fabrics and metals. And, of course, the sweat shop labor. It's not as though all these goods just return to the Earth as compost, or that the workers are treated and compensated fairly!
The sensible alternative is to develop a personal style that's not reliant on the underground economy of phony fashions. Don't give into the counterfeit counterculture. Let your style evolve as an extension of your growth and success. Instead of being known as a faker, your authentic reputation will climax—for real—on a high note.
Joseph Rosenfeld, the nation's only male Certified Image Professional, helps men, women and corporate sales, training and service organizations build professional images. Visit www.JRImageMentor.com for more information.
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