Au­then­tic­ity

As de­signer bootlegs find mass ap­peal, the bound­ary be­tween high and low fash­ion blurs.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Nancy Won

De­signer bootlegs are wreak­ing havoc on our pub­lic per­cep­tion of au­then­tic­ity; Trevor An­drew’s big play on Gucci; Is­abel B. Slone in­ves­ti­gates the mar­ket for faux de­signer bags.

When I was a kid, ev­ery time my fam­ily went on va­ca­tion, my mother would break out her fab­u­lously fake Louis Vuit­ton fanny pack. We have photo al­bums filled with her pos­ing in New York, Boston, L.A. and Que­bec City, a white tee tucked into faded mom jeans and the fanny pack around her waist. She didn’t care that it was so bla­tantly fake. It was a gift from her girl­friends (be­fore she moved to Canada from South Korea in 1975), and al­though she did own an au­then­tic LV Speedy, she was more in­ter­ested in the hands-free prac­ti­cal­ity of her “travel bag” than the in­au­then­tic­ity of a per­fectly fine and damn-fly-look­ing fanny.

Clearly my mom was ahead of her time, be­cause fakes have gone from fash­ion faux pas to must-have, thanks pri­mar­ily to the high-end boot­leg­ging ways of Demna Gvasalia at Vete­ments and Alessan­dro Michele at Gucci. Gvasalia was the first to turn the fake on its head with his high-end ap­pro­pri­a­tions of brands like Thrasher, Cham­pion and Canada Goose. (Le­git col­labs with Cham­pion and Canada Goose would follow.) He took his logo-sub­vert­ing skills to Balenciaga via his cheeky flip on the Bernie San­ders logo for Fall 2017. Michele be­gan toy­ing with lux­ury Gucci bootlegs last year when he showed “fake” Gucci tees (in­spired by the pop­u­lar ’80s Chi­na­town knock-offs) for Re­sort 2017. And this past May, he one-upped him­self with a se­ries of bla­tantly fake­tas­tic “Guccy” sweat­shirts.

This tongue-in-cheek par­o­dy­ing of coun­ter­feit cul­ture has been di­rectly in­flu­enced by the rise of streetwear—be­cause, de­spite its four-fig­ure price tags and posh clien­tele, Vete­ments is a streetwear brand. And if you squint re­ally hard, Gucci is start­ing to look like one, too. “The bound­ary be­tween high and low fash­ion has blurred so much that it has al­most dis­ap­peared,” says Han­nah Watkins, se­nior edi­tor of prints and graph­ics for global trend-fore­cast­ing agency WGSN. “Street cul­ture has been so in­flu­en­tial on the cat­walk and vice versa. There is no line any­more.”

Har­lem cou­turier Daniel Day (bet­ter known as “Dap­per Dan” of Dap­per Dan’s Bou­tique) was one of the first to blur that line. Day be­came fa­mous in the ’80s for co-opt­ing lux­ury lo­gos for his over-thetop, hip hop-in­spired de­signs. The idea first came to him in 1983, when a cus­tomer in his shop was brag­ging about his new Louis Vuit­ton clutch. “I thought to my­self, ‘Wow, if he’s so ex­cited about that lit­tle pouch, imag­ine if he had a whole out­fit made out of lo­gos?’” Day be­gan cus­tom-mak­ing his own all-over-print “Gucci” bombers, “LV” sweaters and “Fendi” track suits for clients like Run DMC, LL Cool J, Bobby Brown and Salt-N-Pepa. “I didn’t do knock-offs…I did knock-ups,” says Day. “The orig­i­nal styles were drab and bor­ing. I cre­ated some­thing that was more ex­cit­ing than what the brands them­selves were do­ing.” In the end, lit­i­ga­tion forced Day to shut­ter his shop in 1992.

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