Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200
June 27, 2007 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Busted! In one of the biggest counterfeit busts in years, a 19-month investigation reached its climax on Tuesday as federal officials conducted early-morning raids throughout the NY metropolitan area, arresting 29 people, seizing more than $230 million in merchandise and ultimately dismantling three operations believed to have imported more than $700 million in fake products over the last 24 months.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (147 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I used to date a girl who was a buyer for Saks. She taught me how to immediately spot a fake handbag. I am endlessly delighted by seeing "uppity" women strolling along with their imitation Prada bags, thinking they have the world fooled.
posted by ColdChef at 8:52 AM on June 27, 2007


"Targeting these illicit networks will remain one of the most important crimes we pursue."

Yeah, fake shoes and watches are such a danger to America and apple pie. This reads like a press release straight out of DHS.
posted by IronLizard at 8:52 AM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


You can have my Rollecks when you pry it from my cold, artificial hand.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:54 AM on June 27, 2007 [8 favorites]


The amount of counterfeit product one container can hold also can be substantial. One container seized at JFK on June 30 was found to have fake goods amounting to 7,500 Rolex watches, 4,512 Coach bags, 1,440 Louis Vuitton handbags, 1,540 Nike sneakers and smaller amounts of fake products with labels such as Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo, Balenciaga, Chloé and Christina Dior.

Wow.
posted by ColdChef at 8:55 AM on June 27, 2007


I used to see a guy selling counterfeit Kate Spade bags 50 feet from the Kate Spade store - he was fearless, though I haven't seen him lately.
posted by RMD at 8:55 AM on June 27, 2007


they can take my fake LV handbag from my cold, dead hands.
posted by Stynxno at 8:55 AM on June 27, 2007


I am endlessly delighted by seeing "uppity" women strolling along with their imitation Prada bags, thinking they have the world fooled.

What if the women themselves were fooled? Think of the poor rich women!
posted by DU at 8:57 AM on June 27, 2007


Personally I'd rather buy a fake. That way I'd be both fashionable and "Sticking it too the man" at the same time. But I don't know why anyone pays for this crap anyway.
posted by delmoi at 8:58 AM on June 27, 2007


I'm just glad they didn't nab my eyePhone.
posted by drezdn at 9:03 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does this have something to do with the Tattoo Heaven Smoke Shop getting shut down?
posted by Flashman at 9:04 AM on June 27, 2007


Of course, if they really wanted to slow down the fake sales, all they would have to do is start arresting the regular folks that swarm places like Canal Street looking for a bargain. Throw a few folks in NYC holding cells (before letting them go )... word would spread mighty fast.
posted by RMD at 9:05 AM on June 27, 2007


Fell off a truck.
posted by caddis at 9:05 AM on June 27, 2007


The thing I find wild about the idea that they have to "raid" Chinatown is that if you go down there, there are people on every block, shouting at you as you walk by "PurseHandbagGucciFendiPrada". The doors to the "secret" back room in every shop are completely visible. If they really wanted to shut the thing down, I can't imagine it would be that hard. And yet, I bet I can go down to Chinatown today and still find whatever fakes I want.

On preview, RMD- yes, exactly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:06 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


1,540 fake Nike sneakers means 770 pairs of shoes in that one shipping container alone. They may not be real Nikes, but they're real shoes. That's 770 perfectly good pairs of shoes, already manufactured, that are going to sit in a police evidence warehouse for decades. Wouldn't it make more sense to give these confiscated shoes to people who can't afford any shoes at all? Wouldn't everyone win that way?

Why don't people think of things like this?
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:09 AM on June 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


I used to date a girl who was a buyer for Saks. She taught me how to immediately spot a fake handbag. I am endlessly delighted by seeing "uppity" women strolling along with their imitation Prada bags, thinking they have the world fooled.

You can't possibly think you can get away with saying this without sharing this knowledge.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:10 AM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


I have a fake designer handbag, and I got called out once. By a girl working at a Forever 21 in a mall in Dallas, TX. She asked me why my bag had "feet" (the metal things on the bottom that hold it up), since apparently the real versions of the bag I have don't have feet. Busted! Girlfriend knew her shit.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:14 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I also used to see a guy who sold the fake label separately. He apparently sold the bag for one price, but to get the label stuck on was extra.
posted by RMD at 9:16 AM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's too bad, now if you want to be remotely fashionable you have to pay exorbitant prices. What about the middle class? Huh? Huh?!
posted by oddman at 9:27 AM on June 27, 2007


My handbag has feet so it can run away from the cops, on command.
posted by phaedon at 9:27 AM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wish there was a special homeland security task force ensuring my authenticity. I suspect all my comments on metafilter have been cheap knockoffs of my real comments. If you suspect you have read any of these fake comments please let the real indie me know right away. Make sure you don't contact the knockoff emo me because he will probably cry and start cutting once exposed as the fake he is.
posted by srboisvert at 9:28 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


FoB: Wouldn't it make more sense to give these confiscated shoes to people who can't afford any shoes at all?

Yeah, but then where's the evidence for when they go to trial? I guess they could donate the shoes after the trial...
posted by papakwanz at 9:29 AM on June 27, 2007


29 people, seizing more than $230 million in merchandise and ultimately dismantling three operations believed to have imported more than $700 million in fake products over the last 24 months.

So these 29 people are responsible for nearly a BILLION dollars in merchandise?

That seems like a delirious estimation by the cops. Kind of like when they bust some mule with a few pounds of Mexican ditch weed and claim it has a "street value" of millions of dollars...

Give me a break...
posted by wfrgms at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2007


Wouldn't it make more sense to give these confiscated shoes to people who can't afford any shoes at all? Wouldn't everyone win that way?

Why don't people think of things like this?


They think of them and reject them. The products in question are veblen goods. Giving them to the poor destroys their desireability.
posted by srboisvert at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


I was at a dinner party once and I had to sit through this incredibly insufferable girl brag about her status. I was also dating someone who worked at a high-end store and taught me how to spot fake bags. It is fairly easy, most of the time the patterns don't match up at the seams or the stitching is bad. Anyway, she was talking about how NYU is a safety school and how she hated people went to NYU and thought they were as good as Ivy, etc. I don't go to NYU but when she made a sneer at my Midwest heritage. She then asked where my family "summered", and I replied, "Not in the same place you got that awful fake purse." Zing! Normal People 1, Rich Heiress 3,431 .. we're catching up!
posted by geoff. at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


Wouldn't it make more sense to give these confiscated shoes to people who can't afford any shoes at all? Wouldn't everyone win that way?

And the handbags. What about the handbags? Half of Long Island is sitting and crying because they don't have Gucci purses.

WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE HOOCHIE MAMAS?
posted by nasreddin at 9:33 AM on June 27, 2007


i just went to the hobby shop and picked up a ton of sequins, i'm thinking of making some counterfeit bling h2o.

i wish they'd do a similar raid in my area. it's totally getting out of hand, it's such a sketchy and dangerous plague on our society. the rival gangs manufacturing and distributing artificial accessories have been doing drive-bys alot lately. i swear not a day goes by where you don't hear about someone mugging an old lady in order to buy his girlfriend a fake purse.

for a few months money got really tight so i sold this stuff for a little while. but i had to finally give it up, the guilt was just getting to be too much. i mean, to think about the kids that i destroyed selling this shit to. it's just not worth it, even to make the rent.
posted by andywolf at 9:35 AM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm more concerned about the counterfeit hotdogs. Oh yeah, and the counterfeit presidency!
posted by phaedon at 9:38 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's too bad, now if you want to be remotely fashionable you have to pay exorbitant prices. What about the middle class?

"Fashionable" and "middle class" don't belong in the same sentence. Neither do they belong in two adjacent sentences.
posted by DU at 9:39 AM on June 27, 2007


ColdChef : She taught me how to immediately spot a fake handbag.

Yeah, do tell.

delmoi : Personally I'd rather buy a fake.

On of my favorite things is a counterfeit Rolex a buddy got me in Europe a couple of years ago. It's quite good. But I love the fact that while it really looks like a $1500 watch, he picked it up for about $20.

It's nifty.
posted by quin at 9:42 AM on June 27, 2007


I've told my wife that she can go down on Harwin Drive here in Houston and buy all the fake purses she wants for $20-50 each. They still won't add up to the cost of a single "real thing", and she'll get just as much use out of them.

I'm happy, she's happy. I just wish I could find a fake Rolex or two, but I've not been able to do so yet.
posted by mrbill at 9:53 AM on June 27, 2007


I used to go out with this one chick, a real high-end dame, you know? Wealthy blue-blooded WASP family with a Mayflower descent, elite education, worked as an investment banker. I mean, she had that whole upper-crust thing going, with good seats at the opera and everything. Well, then one day one of my buddies took pity on me and let me know she was a complete counterfeit! I was actually dating an illegal immigrant from Burkina Faso! You can imagine my embarrassment. I was forced to turn her over to ICE. I still think of her sometimes even though I'm with my new girlfriend, a Nordic princess living off a trust fund in a million-dollar condo overlooking Central Park. I had this one completely checked out, down to a DNA scan. You just can't be too careful these days.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 9:56 AM on June 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


The other day I bought a pair of fake Ray-Ban sunglasses. They looked exactly like a popular (but not too popular!) pair that retails for $259, but only cost me $10. I felt pretty good about my purchaase.

Later that evening I went to this great hipster after-party for a friend of a friend of mine's band. It being a hipster 'do, I was still wearing my brand-new knock-off sunglasses. While in the middle of a heated debate about Veblen, Bourdieu, and the vagaries of social capital, my interlocutor pointed out that I was wearing a pair of trendy, expensive sunglasses, thus indetifying me as a member of the bourgois running dogs overly concerned about status and luxury.

"AHA!" I shouted. "That's where you are wrong. In fact, I purchased these sunglasses for a measly ten dollars. They aren't a wasteful luxury item, but an inexpensive, practical item." I felt pretty smug.

But then someone in a flannel shirt and muddy hiking boots spoke up:

"Actually, my girlfriend used to work at a high-end glasses place downtown. She told me that it was incredibly easy to spot fake Ray-Bans. And I can tell that those, in fact, are real Ray-Bans. no question. You can tell by the eyeglasses screws. No way you paid $10 for those; you sropped at least $250 on those suckers."

"But...but...these are really fake Ray Bans!" I stammered. "I swear I only paid $10 for them! Why would I buy real though easily-faked expensive sunglasses when I'm trying to prove to everyone that I am hip enough to buy the fake ones and thus put one over on all the fake people running around wearing the real version? Doesn't that seem silly?"

But all my protestations were for naught. My hipster cover blown, I sheepishly removed my not-so-fake not-knock-off sunglasses and slunk out of the room.

And thats why I don't buy knock-offs on the street any more.
posted by googly at 9:59 AM on June 27, 2007 [28 favorites]


ColdChef : She taught me how to immediately spot a fake handbag.

Yeah, do tell.


It's not one single thing, but rather a combination of things. As mentioned above, a big tip off is crooked seams or patterns not matching at seams. But there are other subtler ways (and fakes have gotten pretty good at this kind of thing), such as checking out the hardware on the bags. Obvious restitchings along the zipper or careless gluing? Fake. Loose lining on the interior? Fake. Rigid leather is also a tell...most luxury bags are supple.

My favorite tell? If you're able to...smell the bag. Luxury bags have a neutral or pleasant smell, the cheap crap smells like vinyl, petroleum, and despair.
posted by ColdChef at 9:59 AM on June 27, 2007 [14 favorites]


One of my best friends is serious about the labels of her purses and shoes and things. She's a sensible woman, so this used to surprise me until she explained. She swears that there's a major difference in quality and that the real thing will last longer. Plus, the Real Thing often comes with a warranty and customer support (which still makes me laugh). And when you plunk down the change for The Real Thing, you damn well send that purse off to be repaired when the strap breaks. I buy the cheap stuff, personally, but I go through them like paper, so I'm wondering if maybe she's got a point.
posted by katillathehun at 10:02 AM on June 27, 2007


Sorry, I hate doing this but...

Metafilter: smells like vinyl, petroleum, and despair

posted by quin at 10:06 AM on June 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


She swears that there's a major difference in quality and that the real thing will last longer.

I don't doubt that this is true, but with things like shoes and purses, don't they go out of style quickly enough that it's unlikely that you would need it to last for years?

I will only buy high end boots because I expect them to last at least three to five years per pair. But then, I don't worry about the fashion sense of them, I just want something that will keep my feet warm and dry. But with things like sunglasses? I'll take a fake pair, thanks.

Exempting shooting or riding glasses where I need to know that it can withstand an impact, that is.
posted by quin at 10:15 AM on June 27, 2007


A buddy of mine showed me his “Rolex” one day. I was confused, since he didn’t seem like the type to have a Rolex, when he pointed out how the second hand “jumped” from second to second, instead of running smoothly like on a real Rolex. He laughed and said he bought it on the street for $10.00.

So now I’m all proud that I know how to spot a fake Rolex. I wonder if counterfeit watch second hand technology has improved since then.
posted by bondcliff at 10:17 AM on June 27, 2007


I don't doubt that this is true, but with things like shoes and purses, don't they go out of style quickly enough that it's unlikely that you would need it to last for years?

Well, some people think there are items that are "classic", that you can wear forever. Which I think is true. Of course, if you stop liking the item, you won't wear it forever, whether it's in style or not. So I suppose it really depends on knowing yourself and what you like. Or just having enough money that it doesn't really matter.

And with sunglasses, I just buy fake cheap ones, mainly because then I won't care if I sit on them.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:19 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pfft. They'll be back tomorrow.
posted by mkultra at 10:34 AM on June 27, 2007


She swears that there's a major difference in quality and that the real thing will last longer.
My fiancee says this too, but along with what quin said about the style issue, it seems like even if a real $300 purse or shoe will last longer than a fake $20 one, you'll be able to afford multiple cheap fakes that will togeher last longer and still be cheaper than the one real one. And you don't have to worry about a break or damaging it, because you can have several backups. This is assuming that you can find cheap fakes that look as good (or close enough) to the original, of course.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:39 AM on June 27, 2007


I'm still amazed that women will blow $700 on a fucking *BAG* without even blinking.

Sunglasses? I do the same thing. $10 at Kohl's and it's all good. The more expensive the sunglasses, the more likely I am to sit on them or lose them. The cheap ones seem to last forever.
posted by drstein at 10:40 AM on June 27, 2007


So now I’m all proud that I know how to spot a fake Rolex. I wonder if counterfeit watch second hand technology has improved since then.

Yes, it's much, much better. I myself have a fake Rolex, and the second hand does the "smooth sweep" around the dial. Comparing real to fake, the similarity and quality of the construction is really uncanny. I suspect that for the fake Rolexes, the main difference now adays is in the movement-- a real Rolex will only lose 2 seconds a day, while I fake probably (I don't know, I haven't tested) probably loses 9-10, which would be in line with most low-cost Chinese-made automatic movements.

They say that the only way to determine if a Rolex is a counterfeit, these days, is by opening up, and even then, you probably have to know a lot about watch movements to tell the difference.
posted by deanc at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2007


In defense of authenticity, I used to buy generic wallets, and they would fall apart after a year or two. Not a big deal. I once received as a gift a high-end designer wallet, and after almost 6 years since I received it, it is in great condition, and I still use it. Some designer items really are made with better materials and construction quality. Of course, wallet's aren't made to "be seen," so the cost of it has to be based almost entirely on construction quality with much less of the cost devoted to fashion reasons.
posted by deanc at 10:48 AM on June 27, 2007


I'm still amazed that women will blow $700 on a fucking *BAG* without even blinking.

I hope you're amazed that many MeFites do not use the cheapest phone possible and are contemplating blowing $500 on an iPhone without blinking. Let's keep the knock-off misogyny out of this thread.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:50 AM on June 27, 2007 [19 favorites]



Personally I'd rather buy a fake.


No, you wouldn't.

Fakes may look the same, but they're made with crappy materials and will undoubtedly fall apart much faster.

I've unknowingly bought fake Nike's before. After one single wear, the bottom of the shoes looked like I'd owned them for years. Never again.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 10:54 AM on June 27, 2007


Unless the quality is really obvious, I tend to assume that all of the Coach and Louis Vuitton bags that plague our streets here in Seattle are fake.

That said, when I buy shoes or bags, I do tend to buy real ones. But that's because (a) I tend to buy "bridge brands," and not super high-end stuff, and (b) I am wont to agonize at great length over my purchases, and once I buy something, I want that sucker to stay bought. It's no fun to have to replace stuff every year, especially when you just spent the better part of a year picking it out.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:57 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


My favorite fake labels: Petroleum (Diesel) and Celvin Klain.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:00 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Homer: [gasps] Look at these low, low prices on famous brand-name electronics!

Bart: Don't be a sap, Dad. These are just crappy knock-offs.

Homer: Pfft. I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see it. And look, there's Magnetbox and Sorny.

posted by Sangermaine at 11:06 AM on June 27, 2007


I hope you're amazed that many MeFites do not use the cheapest phone possible and are contemplating blowing $500 on an iPhone without blinking. Let's keep the knock-off misogyny out of this thread.

Ah, but you forget, the iPhone is not a fashion accessory for most geeks. It is a tool. A functional piece of technology that will be utilized to it's utmost, hacked, modded, and used to augment the said geeks already numerous computing devices. It is worth the $500. A bag from a designer label? Sorry, I have a really nice $75 backpack that can carry more, is more durable, less likely to be scuffed or messed up by extensive use, and comes with a thermos.

It's the argument of fashion versus utility. Utility wins, every time.
posted by daq at 11:14 AM on June 27, 2007


29 people, seizing more than $230 million in merchandise and ultimately dismantling three operations believed to have imported more than $700 million in fake products over the last 24 months.

That seems like a delirious estimation by the cops. Kind of like when they bust some mule with a few pounds of Mexican ditch weed and claim it has a "street value" of millions of dollars...


How do you suppose they come up with those numbers? Do they value the counterfeit bag at the price of the real thing? Like the RIAA counts how every single downloaded copy of a CD is valued at the retail price, not taking into account the fact that plenty of those people would not have purchased it at full price?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:20 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ah, but you forget, the iPhone is not a fashion accessory for most geeks. It is a tool. A functional piece of technology that will be utilized to it's utmost, hacked, modded, and used to augment the said geeks already numerous computing devices.

+1, Funny

Oh, it wasn't sarcasm? Nevermind then.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:23 AM on June 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Ah, but you forget, the iPhone is not a fashion accessory for most geeks.

Bwa ha ha ha. Stop, you're killing me.
posted by piratebowling at 11:23 AM on June 27, 2007


The Jesus phone is a *utility* item? Choosing it instead of a phone that integrates with your work email, has an SDK, and buttons you can push without looking is choosing *function* over *form*?

Come on - I hope you're being sarcastic.

Don't get me wrong, I want one bad. But I have few illusions about why....
posted by freebird at 11:27 AM on June 27, 2007


Sangermaine writes "My fiancee says this too, but along with what quin said about the style issue, it seems like even if a real $300 purse or shoe will last longer than a fake $20 one, you'll be able to afford multiple cheap fakes that will togeher last longer and still be cheaper than the one real one."

That may be true. However, I once bought some shoes at Payless for a waiting job I just got. The shoes lasted one day before they started falling apart. ONE DAY. I went and bought some Brooks Brothers shoes for $60, which lasted me for years. My experience with clothes is similar. I don't care much about fashion, but buying cheap as possible doesn't usually work out too well in the durability department. Clothes that last cost more money, but not excessive amounts. I don't need a label, but I do want clothes that fit and last for longer than a week or two, and I'm willing to pay a little more for it.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:27 AM on June 27, 2007


It's the argument of fashion versus utility. Utility wins, every time.

I agree 100%
For my bag.

I wear some of the dumbest clothes, because I like the way they look, they're a pain. I even have some pants made of materials that can only be dried on a line. Waste of time.

But my bag.

My bag is a tool. And it looks like its made of burlap and it doesn't go with anything I wear. But I don't care. It's my bag.
posted by Esoquo at 11:30 AM on June 27, 2007


Ah, but you forget, the iPhone is not a fashion accessory for most geeks. It is a tool.

I'm having a hard time deciding if it's the iPhone or you that is more of a tool right now.
posted by Stynxno at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2007


I don't doubt that this is true, but with things like shoes and purses, don't they go out of style quickly enough that it's unlikely that you would need it to last for years?


If you buy into the fads. My label-loving friend dresses well, but isn't a trendwhore. She sticks with classics, which usually look better anyway and protect her investments from looking hilariously outdated in three years.
posted by katillathehun at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2007


Ah, but you forget, the iPhone is not a fashion accessory for most geeks. It is a tool. A functional piece of technology that will be utilized to it's utmost, hacked, modded, and used to augment the said geeks already numerous computing devices. It is worth the $500. A bag from a designer label? Sorry, I have a really nice $75 backpack that can carry more, is more durable, less likely to be scuffed or messed up by extensive use, and comes with a thermos.

It's the argument of fashion versus utility. Utility wins, every time.


Assuming you aren't being sarcastic, you realize for women that a bag is ultimate utility, especially if you live in a city and don't drive? You use it every single day and it matters that it go with your clothes. Frankly, a good bag can dress up cheap clothes, and in that sense can already be a good deal. (I am not being defensive here: all my bags are cheap, though I am rethinking that.) And the manufacturer repairing them? That is totally worth it (and why I am rethinking). A good bag or two, with classic looks that lasts a decade? That is worth $700, if you have it lying around.
posted by dame at 11:33 AM on June 27, 2007


Ah, but you forget, the iPhone is not a fashion accessory for most geeks. It is a tool.

If you define things you don't like as merely 'accessories' and those which you do like as utility-bearing 'tools', it seems like you should be able to make a better argument than you do. It's fun to put rabbits into a hat and then pull them out again. Let me try.

You don't understand. The iPhone is an unnecessary doo-hickey that men use as a compensatory status symbol. No thank you, I'll stick to my three-year old Samsung with the scuffed up screen and sticky #9 key. Fashion pieces, however, are the artisinal products of highly-talented designers and the selection and personalization process is a way for individuals to promote the arts. High art always trumps cheap plastic. See, that was fun.

Obviously I don't believe that, nor do I care about fashion or phones (stupid #9 key). I just get annoyed that these discussions inevitably end up with someone saying LOLwomen.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:33 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link to "veblen goods", srboisvert . That was pretty interesting - not a new concept, but I didn't know there was an explicit term.
posted by freebird at 11:39 AM on June 27, 2007


Oh, and if I now say:

LOLwomen

no one can post after me without fighting allen.spaulding.
posted by freebird at 11:40 AM on June 27, 2007


> Personally I'd rather buy a fake.

No, you wouldn't.

Fakes may look the same, but they're made with crappy materials and will undoubtedly fall apart much faster.

I've unknowingly bought fake Nike's before. After one single wear, the bottom of the shoes looked like I'd owned them for years. Never again.


I've bought real Nike's for $70 (Speed TD cleats) that have fallen apart in a single season, less than three months. Not to diss on Nike specifically, but I wouldn't be surprised if these "brand-name" cleats were made with the same crappy materials in China in a factory next door to the one where the fake shoes are made.

As an interesting aside, I have done some blind taste testing with a bunch of people and have found that generics (to my surprise) tend to taste noticeably worse than brand-names when it comes to snack foods (e.g. Wheat Thins vs. Thin Wheats) and cereals (Cheerios vs. Toasted Oats, Cinnamon Toast Crunch vs. Cinnamon Crunch, Crispix vs. Crispy Hexagons (my favorite name), etc.).

This could be because we're conditioned to like the brand names, and dislike foods that differ in taste from them. But in blind testing, even when eating the generics first, people find that they taste bad.
posted by ajshankar at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2007


I have a running list in my mind of the things I'm OK buying generic, and the things I must buy brand-name. Generic cereal? Sure, I can do that. Generic oatmeal? Tried it, not good. Generic Chips? No way, I need my Nacho Cheese Doritos.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


But what will become of Canal St?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:52 AM on June 27, 2007


I plan on standing in line to buy an iPhone cause I think they're cool and my 3 year old, beat up Nokia phone is outdated.

I buy expensive bags and I think they're worth every penny. My Coach bags have last years and I've sent 1 or 2 of them back to the factory for repair.

My $700 Armani bag was a gift from a boyfriend. He'd say it was worth every penny. I was very appreciative.
posted by shoesietart at 11:55 AM on June 27, 2007


1,540 fake Nike sneakers means 770 pairs of shoes in that one shipping container alone. They may not be real Nikes, but they're real shoes. That's 770 perfectly good pairs of shoes, already manufactured, that are going to sit in a police evidence warehouse for decades. Wouldn't it make more sense to give these confiscated shoes to people who can't afford any shoes at all? Wouldn't everyone win that way?

Why don't people think of things like this?


they are counterfeit, dude! they take the food right out of the mouths of the children of corporate moguls! are you some sort of socialist? why do you hate amercan capitalism so much? better that 10 million brown proles go shoeless than one brand be harmed!
posted by quonsar at 11:57 AM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


krinklyfig,
Oh, I agree completely. There's obviously a lower limit to the price-squeezing, but the thing to remember is that the quality thing is really a red herring, because there's an upper limit to it as well. Item quality does not increase infinitely with price. A $300 bag may be sturdier than a $20 one, but is an $800 bag proportionally sturdier than the $300 one? I'm not clothing or accessory manufacturer, but I seriously doubt it. The additional price you're paying is for that Prada or Gucci label, not a better bag. It seems like if quality is your real concern, then the best thing to do is go for mid-level generic brands, or relatively high-quality knock-offs. Thus it still doesn't make sense to buy the real label items for any reason other than you want them. And if you want a high-end bag because you just like it, that's great. It just seems wrong to try to justify it as a rational quality thing instead of personal taste.

And even still, the cheap fakes are a good alternative. I said a quality-minded person should look for decent knock-offs or mid-level generic stuff, but really fakes can be so cheap that there's little risk involved. If I pay $10 for something and it falls to pieces, I'm out $10, and still try several more fakes before I've put down any large amount of money. After a while, just as you can spot fakes themselves, you can probably learn to tell what fakes are truly crap and which are half-decent.

Please note that I was really responding more to what katillathehun was saying about her friend's buying philosophy.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:01 PM on June 27, 2007


I'd buy a fake, no question. I've done it in Italy, where I got a little fake handbag. I know it's fake, the seller knows it's fake, everyone who sees it knows it's fake, but it's an ITALIAN fake. Great souvenir.

I also buy cheap shoes, because I have a weird shoe size. I love nice shoes but can rarely find them in my size.

I Knew a woman who had ridiculously small, size 5 1/2 feet. She would get shoes for free because that's the size they use for the "model" shoes that get put up on the stands to convince you they will look great on your huge boat feet. Hardly anyone actually wears that size, so she would get the model pairs sent to her all the time, gratis, for her opinion on the shoes.
posted by misha at 12:14 PM on June 27, 2007


...seizing more than $230 million in merchandise...

translated:

...seizing a small cardboard box containing some $10 Rolecx watches, which bear a visual resemblance to what $230 million dollars of Rolex watches might look like.
Fraud and forgery experts also noted that even the small cardboard box had logos claiming that it was "Michelangelo's Pizza" yet to the best of their knowledge, the Renaissance master had never produced sculpture in cardboard, and the box had been produced in New York, not the Italian town of Piza.


Ok, I now stop ragging on people doing their job. But their style of PR was kind of begging for it. :)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:18 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


If people could buy a fake iphone for $20 that was as functionally equivalent to the iphone as a fake gucci bag is to the original, I don't think many metafites would choose to buy the iphone at all.

Last I looked, you couldn't buy a fake iphone.
You can't even get a fake ipod.

Even the mp3 players that try hard to look like ipods, are still 80% of the price of the brandname device. Not between 1-10% like the bags.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:25 PM on June 27, 2007


The real rich people are not buying knock-offs, or the "real" thing or in fact shopping retail at all. Or wholesale. Or designer. They are getting items custom made by artisans and family retainers that only they and their cohort know about.
posted by nax at 12:41 PM on June 27, 2007


Last I looked, you couldn't buy a fake iphone.

O RLY?
posted by mkultra at 12:43 PM on June 27, 2007


Counterfeit goods do a service to the public at the expense of corporate domain. I applaud these shoddily-made goods.
posted by tehloki at 12:52 PM on June 27, 2007


Will my wool suit still exist if I remove the Hugo Boss tag?

Will I vanish into a epistemological purgatory, where no one can brand anything?

In Limbo, is Adbusters typeset in incomprehensible text?

In Hell, is everyone a celebrity?
posted by four panels at 1:05 PM on June 27, 2007


I used to buy my shoes at Aldo. Fashionable enough that I felt stylish, moderately priced enough that I didn't feel cheap, yet inexpensive enough that I didn't feel like a pig. However, I would have to by three new pair a year because within four months the insoles would be worn through, the leather would be cracked and the heel would be coming off. Maybe it's because I live in NYC and I actually have to walk on these things alot, but I started to get real fucking sick of blowing 80 bucks every 6 months as a pair wore out. So - I went to Brooks Brothers and let the salesman convince me to buy a 450 dollar pair of brogues.

First of all, I have never ever experienced such comfort and support in a shoe - I felt like I had had a foot transplant from a 15 year old. Straight out of the showroom there was no rubbing or blistering, and after two months of spending entire days in them from commuting to work, working, going out at night and coming home my feet never once felt tired.

Secondly, I have not noticed a single hint of wear. If I get four years out of these things I've broken even money wise. But who knows how much money I've saved myself on future foot surgery.

Third, brogues will never go out of style - at least not the ones I bought. Once they are not spiffy after five years they won't be appropriate for business/dress, but they will look damn good with jeans all beat up.

So, in conclusion, sometimes the extra money is worth it. I will never go back to cheap shoes again and my feet will love me for it.

Now, the 800 dollar Marc Jacobs sport coat I really have no excuse for.
posted by spicynuts at 1:05 PM on June 27, 2007


Hell, in this economy, I can't afford to buy the cheap knockoffs.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:05 PM on June 27, 2007


I see all sides of the discussion here, but comparing a highly advanced touchscreen cellular telephone/media player to a leather sack is absurd in any light. It is an apples and oranges comparison. I'm not saying the iPhone is worth more, or even worth what it costs, I'm just saying they are profoundly different products and it's a bad comparison to build an argument on.

I think most people here are overlooking the fact that something can be BOTH useful and fashionable.

Leatherman tools are like that, to a degree. There are lots of minitools but none have the cachet of Leatherman tools. But, I doubt many people carry a Leatherman for PURELY aesthetic reasons. And, in the right conditions, they truly are worth every penny in cold hard functionality.

Having a Y chromosome, I also struggle with the $700 purse thing. But I'm willing to overlook it as one of those mysteries I simply cannot know or understand.

And I back harlequin 100%. The difference between knockoff electronics and name brand is often negligible. If you could buy an 80gig "iPawd" that was functionally equivalent for $30 instead of $300, I would do it in a second, as would most of you.

But, the "iPawds" cost $275 instead of $300, and they don't work at all the same. In that case, yeah, give me my Genuine Apple Product (c) (tm) (r) (inc).

I wish counterfeiting worked on a much larger scale.

Consider if you could buy a Ferrari for $200,000 or a Pherari for $10000. The Pherari looks the same, but it only does 0-60 in 7 seconds instead of 4, and tops out at 120 instead of 185. Would it sell? I'm guessing "yes".
posted by Ynoxas at 1:07 PM on June 27, 2007


They are getting items custom made by artisans and family retainers that only they and their cohort know about.

That's why even at this moment, I am totally rockin' out to my argon-laser-powered liquid-nitrogen-cooled millophonic sound system with the moon rock needle.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 1:10 PM on June 27, 2007


I hope you're amazed that many MeFites do not use the cheapest phone possible and are contemplating blowing $500 on an iPhone without blinking. Let's keep the knock-off misogyny out of this thread.

Please, with all due respect, give me a fucking break. In terms of their functional properties, an iPhone is a piece of computer equipment, and a Prada purse is a bag that holds your shit. While both obviously have status-infused aesthetic value, if you paid me $500, only one of those things I could make by hand that serve the extent of their legitimate functions equally, and it's not the one that has microchips and an operating system.

With the exception of the diamond trade, it's embarrassing to hear anyone defend the cost of "designer" fashion with price comparisons- especially to products like an iPhone or a car or even a watch that at the very minimum serves a practical purpose beyond looking pretty. And when faced between people who brag about owning a thousand-dollar handbag and people who brag about having spent the time learning how to discern a fake thousand-dollar handbag I'm not sure who I'd like to push into a medium-sized body of water more. Forgive me if that's "misogynistic," but rest assured I'd say the same thing to any men buying Prada bags as well.

As far as counterfeit stuff, I only care because they're often made by slave labor and shipped over from Asia at the expense of more suffering that you'd usually consider if you were so desperate to pretend owning a Prada bag or Armani suit was really that fucking important. It's like fake fur- you're not a better person for it. You're still perpetuating the idea that that stuff is desirable, or worth its cost. You're still fucking everything up; you just have cameras.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:10 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well said, XQUZYPHYR. Although I contest the idea of the iPhone being defended on its geek-friendliness. "Owning" an iPod per se has nothing to do with geeks. Sure, they might code a couple of small things on it, report on it, salivate over it. But actually owning one of these gadgets has totally crossed over into the consumer mainstream - namely, people who want cool phones.

In Europe, I use little shit plastic phones that you pop a card in and can call anywhere in the world. Throw it away after you're done, hell, who cares. In the US, it's all about being flashy and expensive exterior, with a two-year commitment and fucked up monthly restrictions on the back-end.

And to the extent that this is true, the iPhone is the fucking lobster on the American menu. This has little to do with functionality for the sake of functionality. It's functionality for the sake of cool. And in a tanking economy, being cool is of utmost value.
posted by phaedon at 1:26 PM on June 27, 2007


It's the argument of fashion versus utility.

Fashion is utility, something we geeks often overlook.

posted by Extopalopaketle at 1:26 PM on June 27, 2007


Not to diss on Nike specifically, but I wouldn't be surprised if these "brand-name" cleats were made with the same crappy materials in China in a factory next door to the one where the fake shoes are made.

Knowing someone that travels to China busting counterfeiters of his company products--many times the factories they hire run additional night shifts to produce "fake" goods. Obviously these are the same products, but sold on black market.

Why not buy them.
posted by vaportrail at 1:28 PM on June 27, 2007



Consider if you could buy a Ferrari for $200,000 or a Pherari for $10000. The Pherari looks the same, but it only does 0-60 in 7 seconds instead of 4, and tops out at 120 instead of 185. Would it sell? I'm guessing "yes".
posted by Ynoxas at 4:07 PM on June 27 [+] [!]


They do make them and people do buy them. They are called Kit Cars. You get a molded body that you can put over a Chevy frame or something like that. Engine is up to you.
posted by spicynuts at 1:29 PM on June 27, 2007


While it's true that designer items are made with a reasonable amount of quality and will stay together for quite a while, you're still paying a huge premium on name. There are numerous items (not so good-looking, of course) that offer equal utility and durability with a fraction of the cost.

Fashion is still the number one concern, don't delude yourself...but it's made well too!
posted by invitapriore at 1:30 PM on June 27, 2007


They are called Kit Cars.

Not to mention the evil step-sister of kit cars - fake car badges.
posted by phaedon at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2007


And when faced between people who brag about owning a thousand-dollar handbag and people who brag about having spent the time learning how to discern a fake thousand-dollar handbag I'm not sure who I'd like to push into a medium-sized body of water more.

I wouldn't put it in quite that strong of terms, but I understand the sentiment.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:38 PM on June 27, 2007


XGUZYPHYR, I'm going to have to strongly disagree with you. You assume that a Prada handbag is just someone making bags and instead of slapping a Kohl's label on it they put a Prada label on it. I don't think it is misogynist, as much as it is devaluing the work of fashion designers and craftsman. As someone who has actually studied fashion, I can say that I value the work of a good leather good designer as much as that of the work of a good engineer or product designer.

Am I saying that all luxury goods are created equally? Of course not, it is a very subjective process but I have found clothes and goods that are not worth the markup and are literally a fad of the moment. Similarly I've found electronic gadgets that are not worth the markup and are the fad of the moment. You are deluding yourself if you believe the premium of an iPhone differs greatly from the premium of a handbag.

There are people who just buy the iPhone because it is a status symbol, just as there are people who buy Prada/Gucci for the status symbol. I've known girls who live in small apartments, still paying off their cars and have a closet full of expensive luxury goods. I also know guys who have large plasma televisions, universal remotes and other gadgets in the same position.

To be honest, one year I got a bonus and needed a pair of shoes. I decided to splurge on a pair of Pradas and I have to say, over the no-name department store brand, they have paid for themselves many times over. Even though it was several years ago they still retain a fashion forward image and look exactly as they did when I bought them. Both the quality of the shoe and the design have held up, and much to my surprise, have paid for themselves. I do not think this is a riskless proposition by any means, I am sure some more couture lines have shoes that you can only wear several times and I'm sure there have been instances of poorly made shoes (and poorly made iPods as I'm sure many people can attest to).

My point is this: just because fashion design is not your area of expertise and you're unable to discern differences does not mean they exist. I am sure there are people, though not on this web site, who beyond the status symbol of the iPhone do not gain the usage out of it. Just as there are air-headed girls from West Hollywood who just want a LV bag. With anything there is a degree of fetishism where diminishing returns comes into play. Yes someone's $50,000 stereo will sound better than my $1,000 setup, but I doubt that it will sound 50x better. Similarly the iPhone is a brilliant piece of gadgetry but I doubt it is 5x better than a $100 Razr. You simply cannot apply quantitative measurements on such things. I do not go into a gallery of modern art and say simply, "this is just paint on a canvas," when such things require a certain degree of knowledge and education to appreciate to its fullest extent. If we'd all buy things according to their functionality we'd be living in an incredibly boring, ascetic lifestyle.
posted by geoff. at 1:43 PM on June 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


geoff., fashion is not important. Sorry.
posted by four panels at 1:45 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yet, ironically, David Bowie is.
posted by four panels at 1:46 PM on June 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I just blew my mind.
posted by four panels at 1:46 PM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


LOLEX!
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:14 PM on June 27, 2007


I think Geoff.'s absolutely right.

I don't buy the really high end stuff, but lawd, I want to. The thing about clothes and accessories made by really great designers is that there's a often a great deal of intelligence in them. Both the way they flatter the body the way they synthesize current trends, historical influences, and the like shows marvellous amounts of thought, mastery, and craft. Having seen that, it's really hard to want clothes designed with only average intelligence, or outright stupidity.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:35 PM on June 27, 2007


Not to mention the evil step-sister of kit cars - fake car badges.

I thought the evil twin of KITT was KARR?
posted by mazola at 2:42 PM on June 27, 2007


Forgive me if that's "misogynistic," but rest assured I'd say the same thing to any men buying Prada bags as well.

It would still be misogynisitic then. Not only did you miss the point of a very short post of mine, you showed exactly what I was talking about. Quite simply, you find products that are traditionally classified as male to have worth and those that are traditionally classified as female to have no worth. That's what I was getting at above. You can try your hardest to justify male consumerism while rejecting female consumerism, but don't bother. I get it. LOLwomen.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:49 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


LOLwomen.

We wouldn't want them to cry.
posted by four panels at 3:02 PM on June 27, 2007


Would the people bashing women who buy expensive handbags instead of knock-offs say the same about someone who bought paintings instead of posters to decorate his home? When you buy fashion, sometimes you are purchasing both a work of art and a functional item.
posted by amber_dale at 3:10 PM on June 27, 2007


IZ REAL? sry
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:26 PM on June 27, 2007


they are counterfeit, dude! they take the food right out of the mouths of the children of corporate moguls! are you some sort of socialist? why do you hate amercan capitalism so much? better that 10 million brown proles go shoeless than one brand be harmed!

Actually you would be taking the food directly out of my mouth.

I buy expensive bags and I think they're worth every penny. My Coach bags have last years and I've sent 1 or 2 of them back to the factory for repair.

Actually you're sending those purses to a warehouse to be repaired. All of the factories are in Italy, China, and Turkey for the most aprt (with the odd few in Malaysia). But, really that's nitpicking.

And when faced between people who brag about owning a thousand-dollar handbag and people who brag about having spent the time learning how to discern a fake thousand-dollar handbag I'm not sure who I'd like to push into a medium-sized body of water more.

You're more than welcome to give me a shove when I say that I can spot a fake, of course that's because I spend about 50 hours a week surrounded by the real ones.

I have real mixed feelings about this;I feel guilty because I've sold out and work for a big retail fashion company, but on the other hand I don't want you to buy those knock-offs because I like being receiving a paycheck. I know for a cold hard fact that you're paying a hefty premium for a name here (almost down to the exact penny), but I like to think that the company I work for makes good products, and all the ones I've purchased for myself and given as gifts have lasted for a long, long time. Of course I'm also not paying that premium. My wallet only cost me a dollar. God Bless factory confirmation samples.
posted by nulledge at 3:41 PM on June 27, 2007


"To be honest, one year I got a bonus and needed a pair of shoes. I decided to splurge on a pair of Pradas and I have to say, over the no-name department store brand, they have paid for themselves many times over. Even though it was several years ago they still retain a fashion forward image and look exactly as they did when I bought them. Both the quality of the shoe and the design have held up, and much to my surprise, have paid for themselves."

I have a fabulous pair of Prada shoes and the craftsmanship is amazing. They are a work of art and well worth the $450 I paid for them. I also like to think that I'm keeping Italian crafsmen employed. Ahem.
posted by shoesietart at 3:41 PM on June 27, 2007


It would still be misogynisitic then. Not only did you miss the point of a very short post of mine, you showed exactly what I was talking about.

First of all, the term 'misogyny' applies to an attitude of prejudice towards women, not things women buy. Your counterpoint is laughable, even when one assumes that the majority of consumers that buy prada bags are women. That simply has no bearing on anything. The fact that you can't carry his point over to include bags that we might agree are equally fit for the "male consumer" - say, a baseball bat bag, or a school bag - is surprising. A bag that holds your shit. You have to be trolling to call that misogynistic.

My point is this: just because fashion design is not your area of expertise and you're unable to discern differences does not mean they exist.

The question remains how do differences in fashion play out in the marketplace, in terms of price tags. Not whether fashion has value, but rather how much are people willing to pay for it, and why? And at what point are you paying for workmanship, versus paying for brand? I can't offer a solid answer, as I agree that (especially) with companies like Armani, Fendi, and Prada, it is extremely hard to determine whether you're overpaying for something. You're talking about first-rate, high-quality items - that aren't available anywhere else, and are also extremely expensive. And yet it is obvious that people who are not experts and cannot discern differences between top-shelf bags and their knock-offs covet the brand name and are willing to pay top dollar to get the real thing.
posted by phaedon at 3:47 PM on June 27, 2007


When the peak oil crisis comes, and the suburbs collapse, the barefoot will envy the shod, now matter what the manner of their footwear. In the land of the shoeless, those with Prada shall be king.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 3:50 PM on June 27, 2007


> I plan on standing in line to buy an iPhone cause I think they're cool and my 3 year old, beat up Nokia phone is outdated.
>
> I buy expensive bags and I think they're worth every penny. My Coach bags have last years and I've sent 1 or 2 of them back to the factory for repair.
>
> My $700 Armani bag was a gift from a boyfriend. He'd say it was worth every penny. I was very appreciative.
> posted by shoesietart at 2:55 PM on June 27 [+] [!]

shoesie, why are you hanging around a tatty, style-challenged website like this one?
posted by jfuller at 3:57 PM on June 27, 2007


Yes, but what about designer camera bags? Are they more utilitarian or just more fascination with the expensive? If you can compare anything males might use to a purse, that would be it (not that women don't use camera bags).
posted by IronLizard at 3:59 PM on June 27, 2007


Spicynuts--

Do yourself a favor and go out and buy another pair of really good shoes, if or when you've got the cash. A single pair of high-end shoes will last you five or six years, but two pairs, alternated every other day, will combine to last you thirty. (Or so says my dad, for whom half his business wardrobe is older than I am.) Oh, and take care of 'em by shining them every few months, too--they'll last forever, and business fashion (men's and women's) is getting more standardized and less subject to the whims of fashion every day.

As for the debate at hand--
As a college student, I tend towards the cheap, knock-off goods because that's the sort of thing I can afford. I saw a decent looking briefcase at the college bookstore for $50, and decided to get it instead of waiting to save up $300 or so for a good business bag when I got out. Damn thing lasted me two months before the screws on the clasp came out (right before an interview, too); after getting a decent fix by running into a nearby hardware store, the shoulder strap broke off a couple of months later. It's a damn good thing my laptop wasn't in the bag that day, or I'd be out another $600.

Point: Some people are always going to buy high-priced goods, be it a bag or an iPhone as a status symbol. Others are going to buy knock-offs to emulate those status symbols. And still others are going to go middle-of-the-road and buy expensive things with or without brand name attachment because they're more functional in the long-run and, over that long run, not significantly more expensive than the knock-off products. It's a fucking human thing. Arguing over the web about this isn't going to change anything.

On preview: if there's anything specifically male-oriented we can compare directly with a purse, it's a briefcase with a shoulder strap.
posted by thecaddy at 4:08 PM on June 27, 2007


On post-preview: not that women can't use briefcases with straps!
(The point being it's a thin line from messenger bag to briefcase to a decent-sized purse.)
posted by thecaddy at 4:20 PM on June 27, 2007


I will say this much - I'm an avid sunglass buyer and wearer, and for years I took my purchasing advice from the boys in ZZ Top - I went and got myself a pair of cheap sunglasses.

Actually many, many pairs. Anything from dollar store specials to $15 "expensive" cheap shades. I don't lose things very often, but I went through them by the handfuls anyway - the lenses would scratch, or pop out, or the frames would crack, or the hinges would fall apart.

Finally, last fall I was wandering around with a friend, and feeling a little sassy, I popped into the "Sunglass Hut" to drool. And ten minutes later broke down and bought myself a pair of gen-yew-een Ray Ban Aviators.

For the first few months I was all kid gloves with them - always carried them in their special little carrying case, polished them with their special little polishing rag, always took them off with both hands to be sure not to bend the frames, or put undue stress on the hinges. I'd make sure to set them down lenses up, and never, ever touch the glass...

Then one day I just stopped paying attention. I'd gotten used to them, and I'd drop em in my shirt pocket, or *gasp* in a front pants pocket full of change. I'd throw em in the car on the passenger seat, lenses down. their black leatherette case and fancy polishing cloth have long since gotten shoved in a junk drawer somewhere.

I'm an IT guy, and a big dude, about 6'4". and I do a fair amount of crawling around under desks, fishing cables, etc. and I've always got my shades on me. *Most* of the time, I remember to take them out of my pocket and set them aside with my cell, but I've lain on them, temporarily forgotten in a hip pocket of my jeans more than once.

These things are bulletproof. I can't believe how solidly built and durable they are. I've yet to bend the frames, scratch the lenses, or in any way damage them.

So, Billy Gibbons' thoughts on rhinestone shades or cheap sunglasses aside, I suppose it sometimes is worth dropping the extra dough to get a quality product.

It doesn't hurt if they make you look like a total badass mofo either.
posted by stenseng at 4:23 PM on June 27, 2007


The fact that you can't carry his point over to include bags that we might agree are equally fit for the "male consumer" - say, a baseball bat bag, or a school bag - is surprising. A bag that holds your shit. You have to be trolling to call that misogynistic.

I think there is a misunderstanding here. He was saying "forgive me if I'm misogynist", I'm saying he was not being misogynist, just ill-informed.

People pay a premium for things that are aesthetically pleasing all the time (men's briefcases, Apple products) or for reasons that have nothing to do with the inherent cost of manufacturing the product. I would agree that purchasing such things to show that you can purchase such things is lame, but happens all the time. I don't think you should assume that just because it happens that it is the sole reason people buy it. And I would put some of these reasons as being good.

Yes some people spend their money on a Picasso because its a Picasso and some people spend their money on a Picasso because regardless of the name the painting is inherently good. And that is something with very, very little inherent value, it is just paint on canvas.

I would argue that good fashion is (1) functional, (2) aesthetically pleasing, and (3) well-made. The first one is worth very little, as evidenced by free grocery bags. The last two are more rare, and the more rare something is, the more it is worth.

Now if you want to argue that a lot of people are mindless drones and want a bag with "LV" plastered everywhere, I am with you. As I am with you when people buy organic at Whole Foods because they want to be seen shopping there. You don't here anyone here complain about the premium of organic when you can buy just any fucking apple for half the cost of a locally grown, organic variety.
posted by geoff. at 4:23 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was referring to allen.spaulding's comment in that first part of my comment. I think it's time for me to graduate to that greasemonkey script to make things clearer..
posted by phaedon at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2007


It's not a purse, it's European!
posted by papakwanz at 4:42 PM on June 27, 2007


I've only been able to scan this thread, but I hope for the life of me that I missed the part where someone pointed this out...

(As a former exec in the retail merchandising / fashion industry in NYC)

Who's REALLY losing when you, Joe Consumer, decides to go ahead and buy counterfeit product? Not you, you got something that smells like teen spirit and your pocket's still full of cash. So it must be the Big Corporations that you're really sticking it to, how are they ever going to keep making money on their high end goods when so many THOUSANDS of people (who couldn't afford their ridiculous price points in the first place) actually DON'T BUY THEIR BAGS??? Oh, wait. Maybe they've been doing just fine for many, many years.

Hmm...

Could it be the kid in the sweat shop in Thailand who considers it a rare treat to go outside in the sunshine? He doesn't eat very well, he'll never learn to read, and he hasn't seen his siblings in 3 years. But he can make those fake watches damn fast with those useful tiny fingers.

Maybe he's on the short end of the stick here.

There's a reason the cheap impressions are so cheap. Get a fucking clue.

(Sorry to be so blunt, but I have a real problem with counterfeit fashion. DVD's are one thing - some ass had to sit in a theater with a digicam to stick it to the MPAA. But the gambit of fashion - shoes, bags, watches, glasses, etc. - somebody had to make that somewhere for damn cheap. Its a booming industry overseas for all the wrong reasons.)
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:07 PM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Oh, and just because you're buying real labeled merch from a retailer, don't think you get an auto-clean-conscience, either.
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:08 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's right. You make sure you buy brand so the kid gets to starve. At least he'll be doing it outside. You know, cause his family can't afford to live indoors anymore.

Nothing is so cut and dried.
posted by IronLizard at 5:16 PM on June 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Nothing is so cut and dried.

Um, beef jerky?
posted by phaedon at 5:20 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


> But he can make those fake watches damn fast with those useful tiny fingers.

How much better, exactly, is it to work in a genuine Nike-brand Thai sweatshop, compared to working in a Nike-knockoff Thai sweatshop? Just asking, I get my sneakers from K-Mart.
posted by jfuller at 5:21 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


In Beijing at the Silk Market, "genuine" Samsonite meant "please change the label in the back". It's all about keeping up appearances.
posted by graventy at 5:22 PM on June 27, 2007


daq writes 'Ah, but you forget, the iPhone is not a fashion accessory for most geeks. It is a tool. A functional piece of technology that will be utilized to it's utmost, hacked, modded, and used to augment the said geeks already numerous computing devices. It is worth the $500. A bag from a designer label? Sorry, I have a really nice $75 backpack that can carry more, is more durable, less likely to be scuffed or messed up by extensive use, and comes with a thermos.

'It's the argument of fashion versus utility. Utility wins, every time.'


What complete and utter bollocks. It's a phone. I just bought a Motorola V3 for £50 that does pretty well everything that an iPhone will do. It's the argument of elite geektoys vs. prole geektoys. For a geek, elite geektoys wins every time and utility has nothing to do with it.

In both cases, the issue is elegance in design and status among your peers.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:23 PM on June 27, 2007


Nothing is so cut and dried.

Um, beef jerky?

Beef jerky is cut and dried in a completely different way. Today, we use dehydrators. In times past, a simple smoking in a wood enclosed stove was used. Before that, simply hanging your meat over an open fire. I, personally, would not hang my meat over an open fire.
posted by IronLizard at 5:25 PM on June 27, 2007


It's Raining Florence Henderson: Rollecks

priceless
posted by brandz at 5:31 PM on June 27, 2007


That's right. You make sure you buy brand so the kid gets to starve. At least he'll be doing it outside. You know, cause his family can't afford to live indoors anymore.

Yeah, because that's all those folks in those Third World countries are good for- making cheap consumer products for us. Is that what you're saying?

How much better, exactly, is it to work in a genuine Nike-brand Thai sweatshop, compared to working in a Nike-knockoff Thai sweatshop? Just asking, I get my sneakers from K-Mart.

Not every brand uses sweatshop labor.
posted by mkultra at 5:35 PM on June 27, 2007


Thanks mkultra (for stating the obvious, that obviously needed to be stated).
posted by allkindsoftime at 5:38 PM on June 27, 2007


Yeah, because that's all those folks in those Third World countries are good for- making cheap consumer products for us. Is that what you're saying?

How did you manage to get THAT out of what I said? No, really. That must be the most ridiculous extrapolation I've seen here is really stretching it.

OK, sometimes I forget where I am.
posted by IronLizard at 5:40 PM on June 27, 2007


Please, educate me. What were you trying to say? That some family in some far-flung part of the world has no other means to feed themselves other than by working for Nike? People have lived in those places for centuries before Nike showed up.

I'm not gonna call you a racist, but flip snarks like that just come across as crass and ignorant.
posted by mkultra at 5:57 PM on June 27, 2007


Personally I like to buy stuff that lasts as long as possible, works as well as possible, looks as good as possible, for which I wish to pay as little as possible. So I spend a lot of my money in second-hand stores, on Ebay, at run-out sales, auctions, etc, and I believe I get good quality stuff for my money. The trick is to look around a lot, don't buy until you've looked around, and don't go out looking for a specific kind of thing unless you absolutely require that thing. Over time, going out for whatever "good clothes" you can get on that trip will get you good pants, good shoes, good coats, etc in a way that going out for good pants today and good shoes next Saturday will not. That's my personal algorithmic solution to the problem of acquisition of stuff. It's all about benefit maximization, cost minimization.

As a broader question of social policy, I do not give a damn for the troubles of fashion labels, Microsoft, etc, and I consider the time and effort of the police spent chasing "counterfeiters" to be wasted and worse than wasted, in that it takes time away from the pursuit of actual crime. I've read over all the arguments about copyrighting and trademarking in many contexts, and I am well-convinced by the arguments of Boldrin and Levine against the concept of intellectual property. Copyright/trademark violation on a minor scale helps the general economy in that the $15 you did not spend on a CD you copied, you did not destroy, instead, you spent it somewhere else. Same goes for the $50 bag vs the $500 bag; the $450 saved is spent elsewhere in the economy. The brands that are knocked off are the "name" brands, which are definitionally, those brands that are doing financially well.

The figure of $230 million is complete rubbish. Likely that is the sum of the estimated current undiscounted price tags the goods would, if they were the "genuine article", have on them. The cost to, say, Prada, is a lot more complicated than that. The figure doesn't take into account the cost of production of the items, storing them, bringing them to market, selling them to people, etc. It also doesn't take into account the sales which would never have been made to to the "genuine company" at their listed price. Prada is no more denied a sale of its $500 handbag by people buying a $50 "Preda" handbag than it is denied such a sale by people buying a $50 Woolworths handbag. Further, this figure completely ignores the "peer pressure" gain from having vast numbers of apparently-Prada bags carried down the street; for a certain level of distribution, Prada sales will actually go up because fake-Prada bags are seen. People who could spend $500 on a bag, but would prefer not to because their idea of a good price is more around $300 or so, will talk themselves into paying the $500, due to peer pressure.

Perhaps there's a fraud issue there, if the knockers-off are claiming the items are "genuine" and selling them at the same price. But just because the price is the same oughtn't to make it fraud, any more than Prada commits fraud by selling $50 worth of materials on which $50 worth of effort has been spent for $500. The knockers-off are selling $5 worth of materials, $30 worth of effort, for $500. In both cases, the problem is the lack of transparency to the consumer. If we knew what the materials costs and labor costs were for all the goods we buy, we could make better decisions as consumers; which would be better for us all, as an economy.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:16 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


> People have lived in those places for centuries before Nike showed up.

Not nearly as many of them at once, as a moment's thought will remind you. Try it, you can stand the pain. Would anyone take sweatshop labour if they didn't have to? Hint: the answer is "no."


> I'm not gonna call you a racist

Big of you. In return I won't call you clambrained, in spite of your just-past performance.
posted by jfuller at 6:33 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


In return I won't call you clambrained, in spite of your just-past performance.
posted by jfuller at 9:33 PM on June 27



Bivalves don't have a brain.
posted by four panels at 6:40 PM on June 27, 2007


Just asking, I get my sneakers from K-Mart.

Then, you, jfuller, are personally causing the starvation of both authentic-Nike-sweatshop guy, AND counterfeit-Nike-sweatshop guy!

I hope you're happy.
posted by swell at 7:15 PM on June 27, 2007


It's like fake fur- you're not a better person for it. You're still perpetuating the idea that that stuff is desirable, or worth its cost. You're still fucking everything up; you just have cameras.posted by XQUZYPHYR

You're not "perpetuating the idea that that stuff is desirable" if it's a great, big, ankle length, ridiculously violently green fake fur coat that makes you look like a vast cuddly hedge.

(I adore mine. So did about a dozen cold little kids once, when I was wearing my fake green fur waiting outside a bookstore, one freezing midnight, for a new Harry Potter launch event . It was worth it for that spontaneous group hug alone.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:45 PM on June 27, 2007


I'm built like a guy-overweight, but even where I should be my waist is only 5 inches smaller than my hips --so I can wear either sex's pants. During the last five years, the pockets in the women's have been sized down (I prefer to carry cash in my pockets) which annoys me no end--I haven't seen any cropped men's pants. If the situation calls for a dress, I bring enough in a purse for a cab home.

In general, I prefer things which are classic, built to last and comfortable--I don't need a designer logo splashed on my things to prove a point.
posted by brujita at 9:28 PM on June 27, 2007


Sigh. It's frustrating to hear MeFites, whose opinions (in general) I consider generally much more well-informed than average, and have grown to value, trotting out the old "Nike products are made in sweatshops" assertion as if it was fact.

I do actually work for Nike, and first of all (of course) any of my comments here are my own opinions; I'm speaking my own mind, and not on their behalf in any way. Just sayin'.

Anyway, I have personally spent time in several factories producing Nike's shoes in Asia, including Thailand. Sweatshops, they're not. Factories, yes. Floor-level manufacturing jobs are generally pretty monotonous (I think) no matter what you're making, since consistency is one of the most important success criteria for any mass production items, be they shoes, iPods, jester hats or rubber barf (okay, maybe not that last one.) But just because your job involves running a sewing machine, or a foam mold, or whatever, does not a sweatshop make. Things were light, things were clean, people got breaks, even midday naptimes in countries where that's part of the culture. Paid overtime, free lunches, etc. I personally have held much shittier factory jobs right here in the good old USA... manually stirring vats of liquid PVC on a swingshift comes to mind.

If you want Nike's official party line, check this. Let me add my further, personal observation that, inside the campus (where nobody's watching), Nike's commitment to social and environmental sustainability has been intense and genuine. If you're picturing the "Springfield Republican Party" headquarters, with hooded robes and gargoyle chairs, you couldn't be further from the truth. I'll also say that I've been working for Nike for ~8 years... *if* things were different before that, I can't speak to it, and *if* they were, well, any muckraking had its desired effect on Nike's corporate values and culture.

From a technical standpoint, it's extremely easy to make something that looks like a brand-name shoe but performs like a brick. It's easy to fake something that *looks* like an Air cushioning unit, or Shox columns, or whatever, but try taking it for a run, or playing in a game... ouch. It's not just marketing hype... there's a lot of engineering and chemistry involved. Foam and rubber are not just foam and rubber.

I fully expect there are some who'll be skeptical of my comments, especially since I've never posted before. FWIW, I've been a long, long, *long* time listener, but a first-time caller... I've been a daily MeFi reader for probably 2+ years, but haven't felt compelled to testify about anything until now. Not a Pepsi Blue moment here... I'm not trying to pimp for Nike. I just wanted to state the opinions of a person who's *actually been there, on the manufacturing floor* and feels strongly that Nike is currently one of the Good Guys. Again, just sayin'.
posted by rodeoclown at 10:36 PM on June 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


What I don't get is why the top designer stuff so often ranges from mediocre to ugly.
Most purses either look cheap, or ugly, or both. Whatever happened to stylish? Getting a purse to announce "I paid $700 for this" is nice, sure, but it would be a whole lot better with some actual style thrown in for good measure.

My suspicion is that its like the saying goes - everyone has one masterpiece in them. (The catch being that pretty much no-one has unlimited masterpieces in them). The labels built their names with the real deal, but when you've been doing and re-doing the same thing for 20 years (or more), and yet again you have to find a way to make next seasons products look distinctive AND different from your work a few years back, and over the last 20 years you've already mined all the easily accessible style veins, you end up making stuff that is different, but not really better. Worse, in fact. You start going down. But by then, you're a marketing powerhouse and the name is untouchable. So it doesn't matter - you'll remain the thing to own, for the name alone and all it entails. Even if that doesn't entail much style any more.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:05 PM on June 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


rodeoclown:
Delurking eh? Allow me to be the first to flame you.
Actually, no, that was an informative and interesting comment. Thanks for posting it.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:09 PM on June 27, 2007


I used to buy my girlfriend a knock-off designer hadn-bag every year for christmas that I would then fill with dumb stuff. It was funny, and one or two of the bags were a little better than garbage, one ended up as pretty good small tool bag, another is used by our kids.

Then I got serious one year and bought a muy expensive, muy good looking bag. (Actually, not the first one I bought her, but this one was by a fashion house that first made luggage, then became chic). I really liked it, she really liked it, but after a year it was pretty much finished. Dead, wore out. Popped seams, seperated strap, tired looking, not worn, tired. We brought it back to the store and they patched it up, and then one more time, and then the bag was pretty much done. Three years.

Still pisses me off. And I generally go with the spend a little more get a lot more; this kind of busted the myth of higher quality for me. (for this particular brand)
posted by From Bklyn at 12:11 AM on June 28, 2007


I too will emerge from the shadows to praise rodeoclown's comment. Interesting, and something that I will take to heart.
posted by Flashman at 2:07 AM on June 28, 2007


Nike first reported on the conditions in their sweatshops in 2005 following many years of campaining by non-governmental organisations (charities) concerned with human rights and working conditions. That the company has taken this step greatly benefits the transparency we would all like to see in business practices. Having said that, the report, and the subsequent reports highlight the continuing use of sweatshops by the company and the appalling conditions experienced by a good proportion of the workforce.

Nike's own figures for working conditions:
* Harassment and Abuse: 25-50%
* Hours of Work: 50-100% exceed Nike standard: 25-50% exceed legal limit
* Wages: 25-50% below legal minimum
* Freedom of Association Prohibited by Law: 10-25%
I have found that both designer and knock-off products have variable quality. In general the quality of branded goods has been superior, resulting in a product that performs well in the basic areas of comfort, durability and reliablity. However, I am of the opinion that we should be able to produce items that are comfortable, durable and reliable as standard. The premium on designer brands should be for some kind of added value, not just for impressing lable watchers and conspicuous consumers.
posted by asok at 4:29 AM on June 28, 2007


I'm surprised that so many people here are of the "buy a cheap one every year and toss it" mentality. Even if it costs you less out of pocket, it's incredibly wasteful -- plastic bags aren't exactly going to decompose gracefully in the landfill. I started buying fewer but better things a few years ago, and my level of consumption has gone way down in physical if not monetary terms... and I have way less need for storage.

Also, thanks, rodeoclown. Having also worked with a shoe manufacturer, I can confirm that raising the bar in third countries is difficult and not cheap. You can't just set a policy -- you have to monitor your partners to make sure they're in compliance. There are plenty of local factory bosses in China happy to cut corners to boost profit, as we've all seen recently with toy trains, toothpaste, and pet food. I'm gonna assume those counterfeiters aren't going through the trouble of establishing standards and monitoring compliance.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:02 AM on June 28, 2007


The only brand-name item I buy with any consistency is Sharpie, and I use that to obfuscate the brand names and logos on anything I own that contains them--including Sharpies.
posted by troybob at 6:58 AM on June 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


First of all, the term 'misogyny' applies to an attitude of prejudice towards women, not things women buy. Your counterpoint is laughable, even when one assumes that the majority of consumers that buy prada bags are women. That simply has no bearing on anything. The fact that you can't carry his point over to include bags that we might agree are equally fit for the "male consumer" - say, a baseball bat bag, or a school bag - is surprising. A bag that holds your shit. You have to be trolling to call that misogynistic.

My point is not difficult and yet you willfully are ignoring it. I accused a few posters in this thread in considering consumer products that are coded as 'for women' as being inherently valueless. If he disparaged a man for buying a 'woman's' product (a purse) that doesn't change the problem. I'm trying to draw attention to the disparity in disdain between expensive women-coded products and expensive male-coded products.

People don't find purses ludicrous because they are bags, they find them ludicrous because they are a product for women. Clearly there are bags for male consumers, but nobody flips out when someone posts a thread about a nice roadwarrior laptop bag. The disdain doesn't carry over, which proves my point, not yours.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:09 AM on June 28, 2007


I Knew a woman who had ridiculously small, size 5 1/2 feet. She would get shoes for free...for her opinion on the shoes.

Pray tell how she managed this feat.

/Size 5 and thus hates shoe shopping - I can't buy stilettos in the kiddie section.
posted by romakimmy at 7:27 AM on June 28, 2007


Look, allen, all I'm saying is that you might be reading him wrong:

If he disparaged a man for buying a 'woman's' product (a purse) that doesn't change the problem.

A charitable reading of what XQUZYPHYR was saying indicates that he wasn't disparaging men for buying "women's products" - but bags, whether they were intended for women, or not. If Prada made bags for men, then he would criticize the men for buying them. The way you twist this to make it sound like he is targeting women's products - as opposed to the consumer attitudes that theoretically are shared equally to men and women - is unfair.

Whether there is latent misogyny in popular culture, even MetaFilter - well I think it's interesting you bring it up and I never thought about it that way. But I also don't see it cropping up here.
posted by phaedon at 8:43 AM on June 28, 2007


"I hope you're amazed that many MeFites do not use the cheapest phone possible and are contemplating blowing $500 on an iPhone without blinking"

I am, but this thread isn't about the iPhone now, is it?
posted by drstein at 9:00 AM on June 28, 2007


Floor-level manufacturing jobs are generally pretty monotonous (I think) no matter what you're making,

Nah, if you're making $25/hr, they are only a little monotonous. Now at $0.25/hr.. Ya, a fucking grind!
posted by Chuckles at 9:25 AM on June 28, 2007


drstein - I am, but this thread isn't about the iPhone now, is it?

Well, at least you're consistent. I brought it up because there is often an undercurrent of disdain directed towards female consumption, or at least consumption that is coded as such. In similar threads about male consumption, there isn't the same disdain.

phaedon - A charitable reading of what XQUZYPHYR was saying indicates that he wasn't disparaging men for buying "women's products" - but bags, whether they were intended for women, or not. If Prada made bags for men, then he would criticize the men for buying them

Sure, but I doesn't seem that such a charitable reading is warranted within the context of that post. It's dripping with a sneering dismissiveness. And besides, I want you to think about whether or not you've ever seen this kind of reaction to a thread about expensive watches or briefcases (XQUZYPHYR even mentioned watches as ok). A briefcase is also just a bag to hold your shit as XQUZYPHYR lovingly put it, but people rarely get incensed at the purchashing habits of an entire gender because of Samsonite.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:27 AM on June 28, 2007


Sangermaine writes "And even still, the cheap fakes are a good alternative. I said a quality-minded person should look for decent knock-offs or mid-level generic stuff, but really fakes can be so cheap that there's little risk involved. If I pay $10 for something and it falls to pieces, I'm out $10, and still try several more fakes before I've put down any large amount of money."

Sure, on pure fashionable items. I'd prefer my tools not be quite so hit or miss.

Ynoxas writes "Consider if you could buy a Ferrari for $200,000 or a Pherari for $10000. The Pherari looks the same, but it only does 0-60 in 7 seconds instead of 4, and tops out at 120 instead of 185."

spicynuts writes "They do make them and people do buy them. They are called Kit Cars. You get a molded body that you can put over a Chevy frame or something like that. Engine is up to you."

At one time Pontiac Dealers sold knock off 308s.
posted by Mitheral at 9:39 AM on June 28, 2007


My $700 Armani bag was a gift from a boyfriend. He'd say it was worth every penny. I was very appreciative.

Okay I'm probably reading far too much between the lines here, but does this mean to suggest that you ... gave him affections based on the fact that he bought something for you? There are some rather unsavory names for people who do such things, and I'd be a bit shocked if this is what you're getting at and you're so happy to tell us all about it.

I'm probably crazy, but it just jumped out at me. You're probably not even looking at the thread at this point. Oh well.

(I hope I'm wrong).
posted by marble at 11:15 PM on June 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's a truly horrible thing to insinuate. Just... back away from the keyboard.
posted by mkultra at 7:58 AM on July 1, 2007


Not to diss on Nike specifically, but I wouldn't be surprised if these "brand-name" cleats were made with the same crappy materials in China in a factory next door to the one where the fake shoes are made.

Years ago I worked at a now-major catalog clothing dealer and we used to get major yuks over the fact that the same factory was making identical shirts for us and for a high-end manufacturer; the ones with our labels cost about $20; the identical shirt, made in the same place by the same workers with the same materials but with the fancy label in it cost $120.

You have to go REALLY high end before you get a quality difference. How about this--forget the label, forget the quality comparisons. Let's all pay the extra cost to buy union goods made on American soil. Good quality product, good social policy and a damn good political statement as well.
posted by nax at 4:46 PM on July 1, 2007


Just 'cause stuff is made in the same factory by the same people doesn't mean it's the quality. Often quality control rejects from the primo line are sold under cheaper house brands. In the case of shirts you might find that thread that was rejected is still used for cheaper brands.
posted by Mitheral at 11:38 PM on July 1, 2007


« Older ..."imagine a painter who could, like Vermeer, cap...   |   Why yes, I WOULD like to ride ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments